Michele Chait joined E3 in 2006 and works in the areas of large energy user services, utility rate design, and asset valuation. She also leads E3’s international work in the Middle East.
Among her recent projects, Michele identified electricity rate structures to promote widespread transit electrification for the California Transit Association and negotiated electricity rate reductions projected at over $300 million for the Port of Long Beach. She also provides procurement and regulatory support for California’s community choice aggregators (CCAs).
Michele’s international work has included advising the Sultanate of Oman on regulatory frameworks for vehicle electrification and leading projects for clients based in Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Mongolia, and Canada.
Prior to joining E3, Michele spent ten years in international power project development and finance, where she witnessed firsthand the benefits infrastructure projects can bring in terms of promoting economic growth and demonstrating a stable legal, financial, and regulatory climate that can sustain investment.
Michele thrives at E3 because it provides many opportunities to integrate expertise across multiple disciplines to solve clients’ most complex challenges. She also enjoys mentoring staff and is always on the lookout for new talent to join E3’s volleyball team, the KillerWatts.
Education: MBA (finance and economics concentration), University of Chicago; BA, mathematics and Middle Eastern studies, University of California, Berkeley
E3 utilized its deep rate design experience and robust vehicle electrification modeling capabilities to help the California Transit Association (CTA) develop electricity rate structures to promote widespread transit electrification. E3 worked with CTA member agencies to develop key data sets for charging profiles and candidate rate designs. This involved gathering extensive data to create accurate charging profiles for public buses, which differ in terms of charging locations (on route vs. at depot), charging times, and route lengths. E3’s modeling also incorporated forecasted changes in charging technologies as well as current and future bus technology configurations. E3 then developed a wide range of potential rate structures with various time-of-use energy charges and demand charge structures and levels, each of which was designed to be revenue-neutral so that any design could be implemented as an option for the relevant customer class. This project quantified the importance of rate structure selection in delivering value for both “smart” and un-managed charging and informed the ongoing discussion among utilities, regulators, and transit agencies. CTA represents more than 200 member organizations, including all of California’s largest urban transit operators and dozens of agencies in suburban and rural areas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
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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