Associate Director
Jimmy Nelson

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Jimmy Nelson

Dr. Nelson advises utilities, system operators, and state agencies on the operations, economics, and planning of electricity systems with large amounts of variable renewable energy resources. He supports the California Public Utility Commission’s integrated resource planning process and was E3’s technical manager for the development of the CPUC’s 2019-20 Reference System Plan. His study Investigating the Economic Value of Flexible Solar Power Plant Operation received the Public Utility Fortnightly’s Top Innovators Award in 2018. He is a product manager of E3’s RESOLVE planning model and is a technical advisor to many E3 projects.

Prior to joining E3 in 2016, Jimmy was a Kendall Science Fellow at the Union of Concerned Scientists and earned a Ph.D. from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley. Jimmy began his career in energy working to make solar panels cheaper when cost was one of the main barriers to adoption. More than a decade later, he is helping clients understand how to manage and use frequent surpluses of renewably sourced electricity.

Education: PhD, energy and resources, and MS, chemistry, University of California, Berkeley; BS, chemistry, Haverford College


Investigating the Economic Value of Flexible Solar Plants

Solar power has grown rapidly around the world, driven by steep cost reductions and increasing interest in carbon-free energy. In 2017, solar power was the second-largest source of new U.S. electric generating capacity, and in each of the last five years it has accounted for more than a quarter of all U.S. capacity additions. Significant strides have […]


Evaluating benefits of regional market participation | Multiple utilities, 2014–present

E3 has completed studies for more than 10 utilities on the costs and benefits of participating in the western energy imbalance market (EIM), a regional 5-minute balancing market that became operational in 2014. The EIM aims to lower costs for consumers and assist states in meeting renewable energy goals through more-efficient dispatch, which reduces the need to carry costly reserves and curtail renewable generation. For each study, we ran a production simulation grounded in a detailed representation of the utility’s system. Our work has informed decisions by PacifiCorp, Arizona Public Service, NV Energy, and other utilities to join the EIM, as well as Chelan County Public Utility District’s decision not to participate. Consistent with E3 findings, the California ISO estimated that participants saved more than $85 million in the 20 months after the EIM became operational. Several more studies for utilities are under way.