Director
Michele Chait

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Michele Chait

Michele Chait works in the areas of asset valuation, large energy user services, and utility regulatory finance.

She recently advised a private equity firm on an acquisition of nearly 1 GW of wind generation assets and analyzed the benefits and rate impacts of a potential utility merger.  Michele has also negotiated over $300 million in electricity rate reductions for the Port of Long Beach and advised a global data center operator on renewable procurement to support its corporate sustainability goals.

Michele thrives in E3’s environment because it provides many opportunities to integrate expertise across multiple disciplines to solve complex client issues. She also enjoys training and mentoring staff and is always on the lookout for new talent to join E3’s KillerWatts volleyball team.

Prior to joining E3, Michele spent ten years in international power project development and finance, which she found satisfying because power infrastructure can promote economic growth and shows that a nation’s legal, financial, and regulatory climate is capable of sustaining investment.  She is currently applying this expertise on a project evaluating clean energy resources in sub-Saharan Africa for the U.S. Trade & Development Agency.

Education: MBA (finance and economics concentration), University of Chicago; BA, mathematics and Middle Eastern studies, University of California, Berkeley

Projects

Residential, commercial, and industrial rate design | BC Hydro

Our work for Vancouver-based BC Hydro began with the design and implementation of an innovative multipart rate structure that included customized baselines for each of its 100 largest industrial customers. In 2008, E3 began assisting the utility with developing and implementing inclining block rate structures to encourage conservation. These ranged from a simple, two-step residential inverted block rate to more-complex baseline structures for commercial customers. Our process included surveying default rates for large general service and residential customers in other markets, analyzing usage characteristics, examining class segmentation options, and ensuring that our proposed rates adhered to BC Hydro’s cost of service principles and regulatory rate-making framework. E3 also developed materials for customer engagement, solicited feedback through moderated customer sessions, and provided expert witness testimony.

Procurement and rate design | Lower Valley Energy, 2001–16

E3 has provided procurement and rate-making advice to Wyoming’s Lower Valley Energy (LVE) since 2001. Our long-term procurement plans have carefully addressed LVE’s need to mitigate cost increases due to changes in either market prices of energy or Bonneville Power Administration’s rates. We have also helped LVE assess the merits of different rate structures and compare the value of building generation in its own service territory with the costs of building new transmission facilities to access alternative power sources. Most recently, we provided an independent evaluation of the costs and benefits of a potential merger with a neighboring co-op utility.

Valuation case for potential natural gas power plant acquisition | Large equity holder, 2013

E3 provided independent, comprehensive valuation and due diligence services to a client considering the acquisition of a natural gas power plant in the Pacific Northwest. We examined transmission options and associated costs, energy market revenue projections under various regulatory and environmental scenarios, capacity values, ancillary services revenues, and potential off-takers. Based on our low-valuation case, the buyer made the prudent decision not to acquire this plant.

Market assessment for wind project acquisition | Large equity holder, 2015

E3 advised a large private equity firm on a potential acquisition of nearly 1 GW of wind generation assets. This project tapped our deep understanding of the western grid, markets, and public policy. We applied our suite of models to project price trajectories for future renewable power purchase agreements, to assess the impact of renewable curtailment on asset values, and to weigh supply and demand for renewable energy credits under potential future regulation. Our analysis helped the company stress-test its internal valuation results and ultimately supported a successful bidding strategy and acquisition.

Electricity cost reduction and sustainability support | Los Angeles MTA, 2015–present

We are helping the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), one of the largest public transit systems in the country, to reduce its electricity costs, and define and achieve its environmental goals. E3’s scope has encompassed guidance on MTA’s energy strategic plan and quantification of sustainability objectives. E3’s effort has included analyzing data for hundreds of monthly electric bills, assessing potential electricity cost savings, and investigating regulatory strategies to realize cost-reducing alternatives.

Renewable procurement strategy for corporate sustainability | Large data center, 2016

E3 advised a global data center operator on renewable energy procurement in the western U.S. to support achievement of its corporate sustainability goals. We advised the client about factors impacting the long-run cost of the renewable attribute for wind and solar procurement, which is critical to understanding the economics of long-term renewable power purchase agreements. Our 20-year hourly price projections under various market and regulatory scenarios factored in natural gas and carbon price levels, the mix and quantity of renewable technologies on the system, the penetration of rooftop solar PV, and the deployment of renewable integration technologies and strategies. These scenarios supported transaction due diligence and provided a boundary for the ranges of potential renewable energy credit costs.

Energy procurement plan | University of California, 2012–present

The University of California Office of the President (UCOP) retained E3 to develop an energy procurement plan for the six UC campuses served by competitive energy suppliers with total annual usage of over 250 GWh. We developed a model to compare the economic and environmental attributes of proposed purchase contracts against the university’s existing portfolio of contracts and retail electric rates. E3 projected each campus’s loads, operation profiles, and costs for existing combined heat and power facilities, and calculated the cost of new supply portfolios that included on-site generation, off-campus renewable power purchase agreements, and market electricity purchases. Our analysis, which found significant potential to make progress on sustainability goals while managing procurement costs and risk, formed the basis for UCOP’s procurement strategy. E3 continues to advise UCOP and individual campuses on the economics of renewable energy projects and procurement strategies for achieving the UC Sustainability Directive of zero carbon emissions by 2025.

Electric rate discounts to support electrification| Port of Long Beach, 2007-2015

E3, as electric rate consultant to the Port of Long Beach, the nation’s second-busiest port, led negotiations with Southern California Edison (SCE) to achieve electric rate discounts in recognition of the Port’s electrification program and resulting reductions in emissions of GHGs and criteria pollutants. Negotiations led to the California Public Utilities Commission’s March 2014 approval of SCE’s Rate Schedule ME, which provides electric rate discounts and a program under which SCE installs major electric infrastructure at no cost to the port or its tenants. These measures support critical electrification and environmental improvement projects at the Port, which is expected to quintuple its electric usage by 2030. The projects will improve air quality in the region, and rate discounts are expected to yield more than $300 million in savings over the term of the agreement.

Assessing benefits and challenges of the Western EIM

he grid in the western U.S. is a patchwork of 38 balancing authorities. Each balances its loads and resources independently, exchanging energy through bilateral trades. This inefficient system is being strained with the growing presence of variable resources such as wind and solar. In 2011, the Western Electric Coordinating Council (WECC) engaged E3 to quantify […]

Net energy metering tariff evaluation tool | CPUC, 2015

E3 created a public tool for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to inform the development of a successor to existing net energy metering (NEM) tariffs for eligible customer-sited renewable generators. This tool helped the CPUC and stakeholders balance legislative directives to design tariffs that maintain sustainable growth of such generation and ensure that total benefits to customers are approximately equal to total costs.

The tool lets users evaluate different rate designs, simulating their impact on adoption of customer-sited PV and on bills for all ratepayers, while accounting for feedback effects on future rates and life-cycle cost-effectiveness. Providing a common model to all parties allowed the CPUC and stakeholders to focus on fundamental differences in proposals and scenarios, rather than on disagreements and confusion over model differences.


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