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Clifford 'Mike' Naeve Plugged in. Powerful. Connected. Pick your favorite energy metaphor � all aptly describe Clifford “Mike” Naeve, widely regarded as one of the pre-eminent energy lawyers in Washington. A former commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Naeve, 57, heads the 70-lawyer firmwide energy practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. His ability to navigate the federal regulatory system and his stature on Capitol Hill make him a go-to lawyer for high-stakes energy matters. “He’s extremely well-informed. He knows the people who set the policy, their backgrounds, and why they think the way they do,” says Douglas Nichols, general counsel of the Portland General Electric Co., who has turned to Naeve for 10 years. “Mike’s a great resource to have sitting at the table with you.” Naeve is now representing Nichols’ company in federal and state litigation related to the California power crisis of 2000-01. The company, an Enron subsidiary, is accused of improperly profiting from the West Coast energy shortage. Naeve is also representing the Exelon Corp. in connection with its $12 billion acquisition of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. of Newark, N.J. The deal will create the nation’s largest utility, serving 7 million electricity and 2 million natural gas customers in Illinois, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Announced in December 2004, the deal is being reviewed by 13 federal and state agencies. The proposed merger is proving controversial, drawing fire from consumer and antitrust watchdogs, which call it anti-competitive. The companies have already offered to sell some power plants and are also proposing what they term a “virtual divestiture” � transferring control over a portion of the output of their combined nuclear capacity. Naeve is a veteran of major energy mergers. Last year, he represented Dynegy Inc. in its $2.3 billion sale of the Illinois Power Co. to the Ameren Corp. Conversely, he has helped a number of utilities fight off hostile takeover bids, including Pennsylvania Power & Light and the Public Service Company of Indiana. Naeve describes these as “two of the most interesting and challenging assignments” of his career. In recent years, most of Naeve’s work has been on behalf of electric companies, but unlike many energy lawyers, he is not a specialist in just one area: He also represents oil and gas producers, natural gas pipeline owners, and financial institutions. “My practice covers a broad range,” he says. “I enjoy helping clients make business decisions, and looking at how federal policies influence their business options.” His notable colleagues at Skadden include William Scherman, who served as general counsel of FERC from 1990 to 1993. Scherman has handled high-stakes trials before FERC and been involved in legislative matters, playing a key role in persuading Congress to modify the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 to allow electric utilities to participate in telecommunications. Other notable colleagues include Martin Klepper and John Estes. Naeve, who has an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, became a lawyer relatively late in his career. “I always wanted to go to law school, but right out of college, I couldn’t afford it,” he says. Instead, Naeve accepted a fellowship from the University of Texas at Austin’s L.B.J. School of Public Affairs, earning an M.P.A. in 1972. He worked for two Texas governors, and then came to Washington as legislative director for Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas), a post he held from 1978 to 1980. “Energy was the big issue at that point,” says Naeve. He began attending law school at night, earning a J.D. from George Washington University Law School in 1984. Naeve was hired as an associate in Skadden’s D.C. office, but within a year, President Ronald Reagan had appointed him to FERC. Naeve served as a commissioner from 1985 to 1988. He played a lead role in developing policies to promote competition in the natural gas industry. Deregulating the industry, he says, “was one of the great successes of FERC.” In 1988, he rejoined Skadden as a partner � just four years out of law school. As one of the few former FERC commissioners now in private practice, Naeve has frequently been called on to testify before Congress on energy issues. Since 2002, he has also served on the Secretary of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Board, an elite group of 39 offering advice on major policy issues.

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