Sophie A. Akins is a partner of Best Best & Krieger LLP and leader of the firm’s Renewable Energy practice group, specializing primarily in solar and renewable energy projects, proceedings before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and public contracts. She also provides general governance advice to public entities.
Ms. Akins has long specialized in renewable energy projects, with her early work focusing on power purchase agreements for public agencies. Between 2007 and 2009, Ms. Akins worked on almost 15% of public agency solar projects in California. In 2006, she wrote an article for the Los Angeles Daily Journal entitled "Solar Energy Partnerships Can Help California Beat the Heat," discussing the benefits of public-private partnerships, specifically, power purchase agreements as a vehicle for public agencies to “go green.” Ms. Akins regularly assists her private and public clients with issues related to the procurement of renewable energy projects, and assists them in drafting bid documents, request for proposals or qualifications, and/or prequalifying contractors. She also drafts renewable energy contracts, such as design-build contracts, and operations and maintenance agreements anchored with performance guarantees, and has resolved construction and performance disputes in the area of renewable energy. In 2009, on a pro-bono basis, Ms. Akins assisted the Ronald McDonald House Charities construct its first solar project under a power purchase agreement. The Ronald McDonald House solar project will help power a facility that supports families with seriously ill children.
In 2011, Ms. Akins formed a coalition of 11 public agencies, comprised of water districts, school districts and a transit agency, to protest SDG&E’s Application 11-10-002 before the CPUC proposing to impose an unprecedented “network use charge” on solar installations, which would have detrimentally impacted their solar projects’ economics. The administrative law judge ultimately issued a scoping memo in her clients’ favor, excluding the network use charge from the proceeding.
In 2009, representing six water districts and the San Diego County Superintendent of Schools, Ms. Akins successfully defeated SDG&E’s Application 08-12-021 before the CPUC which sought the CPUC’s authorization to proactively shut-off electricity to over a 100,000 residents in the San Diego County backcountry during dry, hot and windy weather conditions. She formed a coalition with the other opponents of the shut-off plan, such as the telecommunications companies, the CPUC’s own internal divisions, disability rights advocates, consumer and community groups, to draft a joint motion to dismiss SDG&E’s application. On behalf of her water district and school district clients, Ms. Akins first obtained a temporary restraining order from the CPUC and, ultimately, obtained the CPUC’s denial of Application 08-12-021.
Ms. Akins has lectured on the topic of solar schools at the Statewide Coalition for Adequate School Housing conference on several occasions. She has also spoken at the annual Association of California Water Agencies conference, the annual California Association of Sanitation Agencies conference and the Crocker Symposium, as well as other regional meetings.
Ms. Akins resides in Golden Hill, which proximity to downtown San Diego allows her to walk to work.