James Newcomb

Managing Director
  • Emerging Solutions

James Newcomb is a Managing Director at RMI, where he leads the Institute’s practice areas for North American electricity and India mobility. He is a writer, consultant, and scenario thinker with more than 30 years’ experience in managing cutting-edge research and advisory organizations.

Mr. Newcomb helped to develop and launch 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 to achieve a more efficient and renewable system.

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. Based on a charrette that engaged thought leaders from government, private companies, and other institutions, RMI’s India team published the widely noted report India Leaps Ahead: Transformative Mobility Solutions for All.

James Newcomb was a contributing author of the Seven Challenges for Energy Transformation, a report that examines meeting the urgency of the climate challenge in the next 10 years.


Prior to joining RMI, James managed market and policy analysis at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Strategic Energy Analysis Center. At NREL, James helped to lead the laboratory’s Renewable Electricity Futures Study, which examined the technical, economic, and environmental challenges and opportunities of delivering up to 90% 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.

As Managing Director and co-founder of Bio Economic Research Associates (bio-era), he led bio-era’s research on issues affecting the future of biological systems, energy, and the environment. Bio-era provided strategic consulting and advisory services in areas of biofuels, advanced biotechnology, and the business and economic impacts of emerging infectious diseases. In 2005, James testified to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on bio-era’s research.

From 1992–2000, James was the founding president and CEO of E source, a for-profit subsidiary of RMI that provided information on energy technology and services to electric and gas utilities and corporate energy managers around the world. E source was sold to the Financial Times, a business unit of Pearson PLC, for $18 million in 1999.

Previously, he established and led the natural gas practice at Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA; now IHS Markit), a leading global oil and gas consultancy.


MM.A., Energy and Resources, University of California, Berkeley, Energy and Resources Group
B.A., Economics, Harvard University, cum laude


Boulder, CO

Authored Works
Outlet Blog Post

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…

Outlet Blog Post

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…

Outlet Blog Post

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…

Outlet Blog Post

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…


Stepping Up: Benefits and Cost of Accelerating Fort Collins’ Energy and Climate Goals

This report examines the opportunity for accelerating Fort Collins’ energy and climate goals to reflect the community’s values while capturing economic, social, and environmental benefits. In the five years since Fort Collins initially established its current greenhouse gas emissions goals, rapid changes in the cost and availability of clean, energy…