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J.A. 'Lon' Bouknight Jr. From billion-dollar mergers to precedent-setting litigation to cutting-edge policy issues, J.A. “Lon” Bouknight Jr. has done it all. The head of Steptoe & Johnson’s electric power practice, Bouknight, 61, represents some of the country’s biggest utilities, including the American Elec-tric Power Co. (AEP), Southern California Edison, Dominion Resources Inc., and the Northeast Utilities Service Co. Longtime client Robert Stahman, general counsel of the Idaho Power Co., calls Bouknight “outstanding,” praising his “extensive experience in technical, complicated energy matters.” Dominion’s general counsel, James Stutts, agrees. “I’ve worked with Lon for years,” says Stutts. “He has a great depth of understanding of market power issues and how [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Department of Justice] view those issues in the energy industry, for both electricity and gas.” Bouknight represented the Richmond, Va.-based Dominion in its $656 million purchase of three electric power plants from bankrupt USGen New England Inc. The deal was announced in November 2004 and closed in January 2005. Work on behalf of AEP, the nation’s largest electricity generator, has kept Bouknight busy in recent years, as well. He is currently representing the Columbus, Ohio-based company before FERC on issues related to market-based pricing for wholesale electricity. The proceeding, says Bouknight, “will set important precedents for the industry.” Power companies are keen to move away from regulated pricing, based on the cost of providing service, in favor of market-based pricing. But first, they have to convince FERC that their local markets are competitive enough to prevent them from imposing unfair prices. In December, FERC announced that it would investigate AEP and several other utilities selling energy at market rates. If the companies fail the commission’s latest market power screening tests, their customers could be entitled to refunds. For the time being, AEP has reverted to cost-based pricing in one market. Bouknight is also representing AEP in its drawn-out acquisition of the Central and South West Corp. The deal was the electric industry’s biggest merger when it was announced in December 1997. It closed in 2000. But in 2002, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated and remanded the Securities and Exchange Commission’s approval of the merger, directing the SEC to further explain certain findings under the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935. In an initial decision issued earlier this month, an SEC administrative law judge denied approval of the merger, ruling that it did not constitute a “single integrated public-utility system” under the act. AEP is appealing. Meanwhile, Bouknight is also working on what is now the industry’s biggest pending merger. He represents Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. of Newark, N.J., which is being acquired by the Exelon Corp. in a $12 billion deal that will create the nation’s largest utility. In addition, he and partner Richard Roberts are representing SoCal Edison in ongoing litigation stemming from California’s 2000-01 energy crisis. The company stands to reap millions in refunds from those who sold power to California utilities at sky-high prices. Bouknight earned his J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 1968. He joined a small North Carolina firm known as Tally, Tally & Lewis, where his practice was, to say the least, varied: He represented local municipal electric systems, but he also defended murder and robbery suspects as court-appointed counsel. (Suffice it to say he preferred the energy work.) In 1973, Bouknight moved to Washington. “I decided if I was going to practice in the energy area, this was the right place to be,” he says. He joined D.C.’s Newman, Reis & Axelrad, a boutique known for its nuclear energy practice. When the firm (by then called Newman, Bouknight & Edgar) merged with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in 1994, Bouknight led a group of 16 lawyers who, because of client conflicts, jumped to Steptoe instead. It proved to be a very good fit. Just four years later, Bouknight was elected chairman of the D.C.-based firm � and served the maximum six years. He maintained an active practice all the while, splitting his time, he jokes, “65 percent/ 65 percent.” At Steptoe, notable colleagues include Steven Brose, an oil and gas expert; David Raskin, a player in the development of regional transmission organizations; and Douglas Green, known for his energy antitrust work.

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