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James Newcomb

Managing Director
  • Strategic Analysis and Engagement

James Newcomb is Managing Director at RMI, where he directs the Strategic Analysis & Engagement Group. He also serves as senior advisor to the Institute’s India and Electricity programs. He is a writer, consultant, and scenario thinker with more than 30 years’ experience in the energy sector, including expertise in electricity, mobility, and strategy.

In India, he has led a team of experts in support of actions by the central government to achieve a rapid transformation of the country’s mobility system to a future that will provide shared, connected and electric mobility services. He helped to conceive and launch RMI’s Urban Mobility Lab, which supports leading Indian cities in piloting, integrating, and scaling innovative solutions to deliver urban mobility services.

Mr. Newcomb co-founded and led RMI’s Electricity Innovation Laboratory (eLab), which brings together leading industry actors to develop, test, and scale new solutions that enable greater adoption of renewable distributed energy resources by all customer types. He has consulted widely with leading utilities, cities, utility regulators and other organizations on the transformation of the electricity sector.

Prior to joining RMI, Mr. Newcomb managed market and policy analysis at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Strategic Energy Analysis Center. He helped to lead the laboratory’s Renewable Electricity Futures Study, which examined the technical, economic, and environmental challenges and opportunities of delivering 80% of U.S. electricity supplies from renewable sources by 2050. In addition to leading the group’s ongoing research in renewable energy finance and policy analysis, he initiated new programs in behavioral economics and innovation.

Mr. Newcomb was the founding president and CEO of E SOURCE, a leading independent provider of research and consulting services to utilities and their customers on energy efficiency, distributed resources, and customer services.

Mr. Newcomb holds an M.A. in Energy and Resources from the University of California, Berkeley, Energy and a B.A. in Economics from Harvard University.


MM.A., Energy and Resources, University of California, Berkeley, Energy and Resources Group

B.A., Economics, Harvard University, cum laude


Boulder, CO

Authored Works

Massive Investment is Accelerating the Era of Clean Electrification

The age of affordable battery technology is coming faster than experts previously thought possible. Thanks to massive investment, rapid performance improvements, and falling prices, breakthrough battery technologies are poised to revolutionize the way we power our lives and organize energy systems as early as 2030. In the first half of…


DER 2.0: eLab Accelerator Unlocks the Potential of Distributed Energy Resources

After more than a decade of steady growth, distributed energy resources (DERs)—including rooftop solar, battery storage, demand-response systems, smart appliances, and electric vehicles—stand today at an important inflection point with respect to their role in the electricity system. This is reflected in half a dozen important shifts taking place in…


Reinventing Fire: Electricity

Executive Summary Electricity is the connective tissue of the information age, powering everything from smartphones to giant data centers and enabling virtually every transaction in daily life. Electricity is the lifeblood of both buildings (72 percent) and industry (28 percent). The U.S. electricity system is the greatest engineering achievement of…


Pathways to 1.5°C

What if the real momentum in actions to address climate change in the years ahead come not from top-down central government mandates but from voluntary decisions by customers, communities, corporations, and other institutions to choose clean and affordable energy options? What if the surprisingly steep cost declines and performance improvements…


Fort Collins Steps Up, Approves Accelerated Climate Target

Sometimes leadership arises from impatience. In Fort Collins, Colorado—a city known for its pragmatic, can-do attitude—getting on with the business of reducing greenhouse gas emissions doesn’t have to wait for international treaties, federal mandates, or carbon taxes. This week, the Fort Collins City Council voluntarily adopted revised climate action goals…