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
- Distribution Grid Cost Impacts Driven By Transportation Electrification
- Alternative Ratemaking Mechanisms for Distributed Energy Resources in California – Successor Tariff Options Compliant with AB 327
- Benefit-Cost Analysis of Electric Vehicle Deployment in New York State
- Business models for distributed energy resource development: A case study with Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited
- Time Dependent Valuation of Energy for Developing Building Efficiency Standards
- Avoided Costs 2016 Interim Update
Electrification of Transportation Rate Design and Infrastructure Applications | Hawaiian Electric Company, 2020-2021
E3 supported the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) on four transportation electrification filings. First, E3 and its subcontractors Anser Advisory and Black & Veatch designed a program for HECO to build the make-ready infrastructure for electric buses to support electrification of transportation for transit, tourism, and other bus operators. Second, E3 designed two new electric vehicle charging rates, EV-J and EV-P, for commercial electric vehicle charging sites. E3 developed a rate design calculator and performed cost-benefit assessments to evaluate different rate designs and propose final rates that will support low-cost public EV charging in Hawaii. Third, E3 and its subcontractor Anser Advisory supported HECO in developing its Charge Ready Hawaii pilot program to deploy make-ready charging infrastructure for commercial and multi-unit dwelling locations. Finally, E3 and its subcontractors Anser Advisory and Atlas Public Policy supported HECO in developing a proposal to expand its public DC fast charging (DCFC) infrastructure pilot to build out 150 DCFC ports and 150 dual-port Level 2 charging stations across its service territory. These programs – three of which have been approved by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission with the fourth project (DCFC program expansion) under review in 2022 – build on HECO’s Electrification of Transportation Roadmap and allow for HECO to support its customers in electrifying their vehicles and fleets.
Since 2004, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has used E3’s Avoided Cost Model (ACM) to estimate the benefits of energy efficiency, distributed generation, energy storage, and other distributed energy resources (DERs). The ACM has evolved along with energy markets and policy in the West, and it currently projects avoided costs for energy, losses, generation capacity, ancillary services, subtransmission and distribution capacity, renewable portfolio standard purchases, carbon allowances, and other air permit costs. The 30-year hourly forecast is differentiated across California’s 16 climate zones. Since 2019, E3 has provided ongoing support to refine the CPUC’s cost-effectiveness framework for distributed energy resources, expanding the applications of the Avoided Cost Calculator to include the cost-effectiveness of California’s entire DER portfolio.
The CPUC approves over $1 billion in annual funding for DERs using these avoided costs for its cost-effectiveness tests. The ACM is suitable for stakeholder processes and contentious regulatory proceedings because it uses robust methods and publicly available input data. E3 also allows the download of the ACM so that all stakeholders can audit any of the calculations.
To support AEP Ohio’s program application to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), in which the company sought to install 1300 electric vehicle charging stations over four years, E3 performed a cost-benefit analysis of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) adoption in the company’s service territory. To do this, E3 developed a statewide PEV adoption forecast and estimated costs of PEVs and charging stations as well as the electric grid costs of serving PEV charging loads. E3 also quantified the benefits of PEV adoption, which primarily result from reduced gasoline and vehicle maintenance costs. E3’s analysis — which found net benefits of $1,600 per vehicle in Ohio, and utility ratepayer benefits of $1,470 per vehicle — provided credible, independent support for AEP Ohio witness testimony.
E3 provided the Hawaiian Electric Companies significant support in developing an industry-leading “Electrification of Transportation Strategic Roadmap,” filed in 2018, which outlines key utility initiatives and partnerships designed to realize economic and environmental benefits associated with EVs. In formulating and drafting the Roadmap, E3 developed a rigorous, data-driven approach to identify high-impact utility actions to promote EV adoption, minimize costs and grid impacts, and capture maximum benefits for utility customers. The Roadmap quantifies the significant benefit that EVs are predicted to provide to ratepayers and the state’s economy between now and 2045: up to $1,800 and $2,700 per vehicle, respectively, if more vehicles charge during periods of solar abundance. EVs will also support Hawaii’s ambitious goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045, provide significant CO2 reductions and local air quality benefits, and substantially reduce reliance on imported oil. Near-term priorities include: 1) customer outreach and education; 2) partnering with third parties to build critical charging infrastructure; 3) supporting customers’ transition to electric buses; 4) aligning EV charging with grid needs; and 5) coordinating with ongoing grid modernization efforts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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