Director
Eric Cutter

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Eric Cutter

Eric Cutter leads E3’s distributed energy resources (DER) practice, which focuses on enabling energy storage, electric vehicles, and flexible loads to respond to grid needs. Eric’s work demonstrates how flexible and dispatchable DER supports higher penetrations of renewable generation and provides value to utilities and ratepayers.

Recently Eric managed a $1.8 million PV integrated storage demonstration project for the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District and Sunverge, showing the untapped value that behind-the-meter storage can provide for local distribution grids. He also collaborated with E3’s asset valuation practice to help numerous storage technology companies demonstrate their potential value to California utilities as the state transitions to a low-carbon grid.

He is currently working with utilities in California, New York, and the Pacific Northwest to assess the impact of electric vehicles on distribution system costs and to develop dynamic charging programs that better accommodate renewable generation under future high-renewables scenarios.

Eric’s passion is helping consumers and policy makers make wise decisions on the use of our natural resources. He also enjoys guiding quantitative analysis and data visualization that tell a compelling story and inspire action. Eric spends a lot of time outdoors, kayaking, rafting, and mountain biking. He leads E3 company bike trips in Point Reyes.

Prior to joining E3 in 2005, Eric worked as an independent water and energy resources consultant, and he was with Pacific Gas and Electric for 10 years working on regulatory policy for natural gas transportation and risk management for electric generation and procurement.

Education: MBA, MS, energy and resources, University of California, Berkeley; BA, economics and German, Tufts University

Projects

EV charging tariff design | San Diego Gas & Electric, 2014–15

E3 supported San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) in its successful application to the California Public Utilities Commission to launch a pilot program that uses pricing to efficiently integrate electric vehicle (EV) charging in an increasingly renewable grid without contributing to local distribution capacity shortages. SDG&E devised a dynamic vehicle grid integration rate to encourage EV charging at times when high renewable generation depresses wholesale energy prices. The tariff also discourages charging during peak distribution hours. E3 used its EV Grid Impacts Model  to show that EV owners that shift their charging in response to the proposed rates would reduce their per-vehicle charging costs to under $600 annually from around $1,400 per year on the current time-of-use rate. The modeling used projected wholesale energy prices in high-renewable scenarios developed using E3’s stochastic production simulation tool, Renewable Energy Flexibility Model (REFLEX). The commission approved a modified version of the proposed program in 2016, and SDG&E is now implementing the pilot.

Market and financial analysis for $200 million storage investment | Macquarie Capital, 2016

Macquarie Capital turned to E3 for analysis and strategic advice on a potential investment in a 50 MW distributed storage project developed by Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) in the Los Angeles Basin. We performed simulations to verify AMS’s internal modeling of the benefits, costs, and value proposition of behind-the-meter, customer-sited storage assets. To understand potential revenue streams over a 20-year period, E3 analyzed the storage project and the underlying business model, forecasting wholesale and retail electric markets. Our financial analysis for the investors and potential lenders was a key element of the due diligence leading to Macquarie’s $200 million financing arrangement with AMS to take ownership of the project.

Regulatory strategy for EV infrastructure pilot | Southern California Edison, 2014

E3 assisted Southern California Edison (SCE) in developing the policy case for its successful application to the California Public Utilities Commission to pilot a ratepayer-funded plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) infrastructure program and education effort. Envisioned as the first phase of a five-year program, the Charge Ready initiative will accelerate the buildout of charging infrastructure by preparing host sites and providing rebates to defray the cost of charging equipment. SCE will recruit hosts in multifamily buildings, workplaces, and disadvantaged communities to ensure that charging is available to a broad spectrum of potential PEV owners. E3 provided supporting analysis, which showed that increasing PEV adoption by 2030 is essential to achieving California’s long-term GHG mitigation goals. SCE also relied on E3’s cost-benefit analysis to show that PEV adoption yields net economic and ratepayer benefits. In January 2016, the CPUC authorized SCE to proceed with the pilot program.

Using a microgrid for renewables integration | U.C. San Diego, 2011–13

E3 worked closely with the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), to develop innovative business cases for utilizing UCSD’s microgrid to provide system-level renewables integration services and integrate UCSD’s onsite solar resources. The UCSD microgrid consists of a 30 MW combined heat and power system that includes natural gas generators, steam-driven chillers, and thermal storage. E3 benchmarked the UCSD microgrid and developed an optimal dispatch model that determines hourly dispatch scenarios for on-campus resources and cost-effective strategies to provide peak load shifting, grid support, and PV firming. Using the model’s results, E3 proposed new tariff designs and incentives that could motivate UCSD and similar customers to use their distributed resources to integrate variable renewable energy.

Publications

Transportation electrification assessment | CalETC, 2014–16

E3 analyzed the grid impacts of charging light-, medium-, and heavy-duty electric vehicles (EVs) for the California Electric Transportation Coalition (CalETC), a consortium of automakers and utilities. To quantify the distribution system upgrades needed to accommodate residential charging of light-duty EVs, we mapped vehicle registration data with utility distribution system and load data for more than 81,000 circuits and feeders and 2,200 substations; we then modeled costs under different rate and charging scenarios.

Even with clustered EV adoption, distribution impacts were modest, and we found that managed charging reduced distribution upgrade costs by 60 percent. For most technologies studied, we showed that EV adoption can actually reduce rates for utility customers while providing net economic, environmental, and societal benefits for California. CalETC’s member utilities used our study to educate regulators and stakeholders about the benefits of EV adoption prior to seeking authorization to invest ratepayer funds in charging infrastructure and customer outreach.

Publications


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