by Robert P. Wax
Arbitration has been an important, but limited tool for alternative dispute resolution for well over 50 years in the traditionally regulated United States electric industry, but its use has undergone a significant expansion with the monumental and unprecedented transformation over the last two decades of this critical business sector of our economy. With the restructuring of the industry into broad-ranging unregulated components, rapid internationalization, large scale mergers and acquisitions and, perhaps most importantly, recent technological advances principally in the renewable energy space, disputes are inevitably mushrooming in this new and changing world. As a result, many more sector participants are turning today to arbitration as the leading way to ultimately resolve the flourishing disputes that inevitably arise in a fast changing world. As the industry has transformed in recent years and the use of arbitration has blossomed, particularly as to competitive power generation, transmission, and renewables such as wind and solar at leading providers such as AAA and CPR etc., the issues that business planners and attorneys face in these arbitrations, as well as the tools that experienced successful arbitrators use to solve those, have a number of common themes. These themes deserve the attention of lawyers drafting arbitration clauses, litigators handling the cases and the business executives leading all sectors of the industry as it further continues to evolve.