Virginia Lacy

Former Principal
  • Electricity


Virginia Lacy is a former Principal with RMI’s electricity practice, where she leads research and collaboration work with electric utilities, corporations and government agencies to accelerate the clean energy transformation of the U.S. electricity sector. She has over 10 years of experience working across multiple dimensions in the electricity and clean energy space, including regulation, policy, operations, planning and finance.


Over the last several years, Virginia has led research and collaboration work focused on new utility business models, valuation of distributed energy resources and their integration into the grid, and resource and business strategy for electric utilities. She is a founder of RMI’s Electricity Innovation Lab (eLab), a unique multi-year collaboration of electricity industry leaders to develop and test new solutions to enable greater adoption of distributed energy resources. Most recently, Virginia served as a strategic advisor to the NY Public Service Commission and NY Department of Public Service in the Commission’s Reforming the Energy Vision (NY REV) initiative. She supported Commission staff and advised the NYPSC on electricity market reform, distributed resource valuation, rate design evolution, and performance-based regulation of utilities. She also led RMI’s DOE SunShot funded project, Innovative Solar Business Models, which partnered with key electricity sector actors to pilot-test new solar business models that recognize and create value for multiple stakeholders.

Virginia’s portfolio of work at RMI has also included research, analysis or quantitative modeling on a variety of topics including in the integration of variable renewables into the grid, fuel price volatility, energy commodities markets, and the financial valuation of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Select electricity sector partners have included Pacific Gas & Electric, Duke Energy, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Hawaiian Electric Company, Hawaii State Energy Office, Public Service of New Mexico, Silicon Valley Power, Invenergy, Great River Energy, and Northern California Power Agency.

Virginia has authored or coauthored several publications, including the electricity chapter of RMI’s book Reinventing Fire, which assessed the potential for an 80% renewable, 50% distributed U.S. electricity system by 2050. As part of that work, she led RMI’s analysis team that partnered with the National Renewable Energy Lab to use ReEDS, a long-term capacity-expansion model for the deployment of electric power generation technologies and transmission infrastructure throughout the contiguous United States.

In her graduate studies at Yale, Virginia focused in energy policy and investment and served as the co-coordinator of the Yale Climate Initiative, an ongoing effort to recommend and implement greenhouse gas mitigation strategies at the University. Prior to pursuing her master’s degree, she was a research analyst with the Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC), a socially responsible investment research firm, where she analyzed the environmental performance of S&P 1500 companies for some of the largest institutional investors in the U.S.


Masters of Environmental Management, Yale University, 2005

Bachelor of Arts, Government, University of Virginia, 1998


Boulder, CO

Authored Works

Sustainable Zero Net Energy: Identifying the Essentials for Solutions

This paper explores the challenges and opportunities available for the electricity and buildings industries as the adoption of distributed generation, energy efficiency, and zero net energy designs grow. This paper considers the following questions: how will increased penetration of distributed resources and ZNE buildings affect cost and value for the…


Net Energy Metering, Zero Net Energy, and the Distributed Energy Resource Future

On behalf of PG&E, Rocky Mountain Institute organized and facilitated a roundtable of experts to evaluate the potential implications for the utility and its customers of a future business environment characterized by high levels of customer energy efficiency, growing numbers of zero-net-energy buildings, and increased adoption of distributed generation (largely…

Outlet Blog Post

Zero Net Energy 2.0

Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras described them in their book Built to Last as a success strategy of visionary companies. What exactly is a big hairy audacious goal (BHAG)?

Outlet Blog Post

The Backbone of the Information Economy

The importance of electricity in our modern world cannot be overstated. Electricity not only animates the storehouses of human knowledge, it also enables communications and control, and delivers energy precisely to billions of devices that drive our economy—from the stock market to hospitals. Yet, as crucial and ubiquitous as it has already become, electricity is poised for a profound leap in importance. This clean, precise, and flexible energy carrier can help us conquer one of the most important challenges of our time: drastically reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.


RMI’s Top Federal Energy Policy Goals

This 19-page memo to the Obama administration outlines 17 goals that can reduce U.S. oil use and greenhouse gas emissions each by 50% in 10 years. These policies would also create over three million jobs in the next four years, and earning a profit for the nation in under 25…