Joan E. Drake

Direct: 505.848.1850
Main: 505.848.1800
Fax: 505.848.9710
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Joan Drake has assisted clients for over 15 years as a lawyer on utility regulation and environmental permitting matters.

In utility matters, Joan represents clients on matters involving state and federal regulation of electric and gas utility rates and service, facility siting, wholesale and retail sales, utility acquisition, renewable energy and Qualifying Facilities ("QF"), electric transmission and interconnection, gas pipelines, power purchase and service agreements, and energy efficiency.  In addition to representing clients on individual matters before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission ("PRC") and Renewable Energy Transmission Authority ("RETA"), Joan monitors and updates her clients on regulatory and legislative developments of interest to energy, utility, and transmission companies doing business in New Mexico and throughout the West.

Joan also assists clients with regulatory compliance, litigation strategy, and defense of Environmental Assessments, Environmental Impact Statements and the NEPA process; Section 404 CWA compliance, including Nationwide Permits, Individual Permits, mitigation, and enforcement; and compliance with related environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act and National Historic Preservation Act.

Prior to her legal career, Joan was an environmental regulatory specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Los Angeles and New England, and has many years of experience implementing federal environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), the Clean Water Act ("CWA") and related laws. Joan's experience at the Corps focused on large and controversial projects and enforcement matters. Joan offers clients the unique perspective of both a seasoned regulator and a knowledgeable lawyer.

Joan presents frequently on environmental law and regulatory issues. She currently serves as Chair of the Utility Service Group and Co-Chair of the Renewable Energy Service Group.


  • University of New Mexico School of Law, J.D., 2001, magna cum laude, Natural Resources Law Certificate; Order of the Coif; Honorable Pete Domenici Award for Environmental Excellence; Administrative Editor Natural Resources Journal, 1998-2001
  • University of California at Los Angeles, M.A., 1980, magna cum laude
  • University of California at Berkeley, B.A., 1976, magna cum laude

Bar Admissions

  • New Mexico
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Practice Areas


Federal Environmental Regulation:
  • Representation of regional generation and transmission interests on Federal permitting and NEPA issues regarding siting of transmission facilities.
  • Representation of major industrial customers, such as mining companies, oil and gas developers, and railroads on Federal permitting and NEPA issues.

    State Utility and PRC Regulation:
  • Representation of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Cooperative, Inc. in rate cases and related investigations before the New Mexico PRC, and before the Federal district court.
  • Representation of electric utility customers on rate and service matters before the PRC.
  • Representation of Enterprise Products Partners before the PRC.
  • Representation of West Texas Municipal Power Agency on wholesale contract issues in electric utility cases before the PRC.
  • Representation of Lea Power Partners, Inc. in obtaining location approval for the Hobbs Generating Station.
  • Representation before the PRC on water utility acquisition, line extension, service, and rate issues.

    Renewable Energy:
  • Representation of renewable energy and transmission developers on state regulatory and legislative issues, Renewable Portfolio Standards, PPA approval, location control, eminent domain, and coordination with the RETA and PRC.
  • Representation of distributed generation companies and customers on state regulation of third party developers and arrangements with utilities.
  • Representation of renewable energy developers on interconnection, transmission, and QF matters and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") regulation.

    Energy Transactions:
  • Representation of energy companies, financial companies, and customers on power purchase agreements, service agreements, financial transactions, and regulation of purchases and sales.
    • Activities

      • Chair of the Board, New Mexico First 
      • Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Trustee, 2015-2016; Co-Chair, Special Institute on NEPA, 2010
      • Energy Bar Association, Board Member, 2012-2014
      • American Bar Association, Chair, Environmental Impact Assessment Committee, 2008-2009; Vice-Chair, Newsletter, 2005-2008
      • State Bar of New Mexico



      Recent Publications

      • "Transmission Key to New Mexico's Renewable Energy Development," Guest Column, New Mexico Business Weekly, June 3-9, 2009, p. 19
      • "The NEPA Process:  What Do We Need To Do and When?," 43 Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Journal, 117, 2006
      • "Contractual Discretion and the Endangered Species Act:  Can the Bureau of Reclamation Reallocate Federal Project Water for Endangered Species in the Middle Rio Grande," 41 Natural Resources Journal 487, Spring 2001

      Recent Presentations

      • "Process and Practice Tips for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Administrative Appeals," Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Special Institute on Challenging and Defending Federal Natural Resource Agency Decisions, Westminster, CO, September 14, 2016.
      • "Clean Water Act Rulemaking: What is a Water of the US?" Energy Bar Association Rocky Mountain Chapter Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado, June 20, 2014
      • "FERC Order 1000: Transmission and the Continuing Challenge of Matching Generation to Load," 10th Annual Energy In the Southwest, sponsored by Law Seminars International, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 15-16, 2013
      • "The Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative Under the Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines – What it Means, How you Comply, and How it is Related to NEPA Alternatives," Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Special Institute on Federal Regulation of Cultural Resources, Wildlife, and Waters of the U.S., April 27, 2012
      • "NEPA Basics," Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Special Institute on NEPA, October 2010
      • "Electric Generation and Transmission," Urban Land Institute, New Mexico Investment Imperative, September 2010 (with Meg Meister)
      • "Regional Perspectives on Renewable Energy: New Mexico and the Southwest," Natural Resource Journal Symposium, February 2010
      • "Alternative Energy 2009/2010 Key Issues," New Mexico State Bar Continuing Legal Education Seminar, December, 2009 (with PRC Commissioner Jason Marks)
      • "Regulatory Issues Impacting Renewable Energy Development in New Mexico," New Mexico State Bar Continuing Legal Education Seminar, December, 2008
      • "Jurisdictional Waters in the Wake of Rapanos and Carabell," Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Annual Institute, July, 2007
      • "Scope of Federal Action under NEPA: Small Handles and Segmentation," CLE International and Colorado Law Institute 4th Annual NEPA Conference, January 2007
      • "The NEPA Process: What do we Need to do and When?," Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Special Institute on NEPA and Federal Land Development, February 2006


      • Best Lawyers in America® in Energy Regulatory Law, 2017
      • Commander's Award, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1994
      • Bronze Medal, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1990
      Best Lawyers Award Badge