November 13, 2018


People walking through arch next to Lake Merritt at sunset

Faces of EBCE — Nick Chaset

Nick Chaset

Nick Chaset has energy in his blood.

The EBCE CEO is the son of two lawyers with decades of experience in energy and telecom. His father, Larry Chaset, spent time at the Air Resources Board and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and helped pursue refunds after the 2000-01 Western power crisis while on the staff of the California Public Utilities Commission. His mother, Gretchen Dumas, spent 35 at the CPUC as a telecom and energy attorney.

But it goes back further — Larry’s father and grandfather ran a home heating business in Providence, Rhode Island, delivering oil and coal door-to-door.

That makes Nick a fourth generation energy professional.

While his passion for energy may be genetic, it is also a response to the threat of global warming.

“Every facet of our lives relies on electricity but we often don’t think about it,” he says. “It’s so ubiquitous and important, yet we have a moral and personal imperative to transition to carbon-free energy.”

Nick has spent 13 years in the energy business so far, including his own stint at the CPUC, as Chief of Staff to CPUC President Michael Picker. After undergrad at Tufts University and an MBA from Georgetown University, he worked for clean energy companies and consultants, before landing on the staff of Governor Jerry Brown.

It was there that he made his biggest mark so far in energy, he says, by shepherding the evolution of net energy metering (NEM) from version 1.0 to version 2.0. NEM is a foundational policy that sets out the rules for customer-owned generation, primarily from solar panels. As solar power took off in California, it was bumping up against caps on deployment, while raising questions about how solar should be valued to maximize benefits to the grid.

“I worked with the legislature and the CPUC to lift the cap and move to a system that would allow for the continued growth of rooftop solar,” Chaset recalls. “There was a concern that without reforming the rules solar would not scale up, and it would be limited it to very high income customers.”

The NEM 2.0 decision lifted the cap, but also required customers with solar to switch to a time-of-use rate, better aligning solar with the value of energy on the grid. He points to the continued robust growth of solar as evidence that the new policy is working.

“I see a lot of parallels between that and what is happening now with CCAs,” he says. “We’ve reached a critical mass with CCAs and now we have to come up with a system that allows for continued growth. I’m putting a lot of my attention to policies that allow for that growth.”

While California is on a path toward a cleaner energy system, Chaset thinks that CCAs can help in going greener quicker, while delivering more local benefits.

“My goal for EBCE is to deliver lower carbon, lower cost energy solutions that benefit all residents of Alameda County — especially those that have borne the brunt of our past environmental mistakes.”

“And as a community energy supplier, we want to create local jobs and local economic benefits,” he adds. “The East Bay is home to many energy innovators, including Berkeley Lab and Tesla. We want EBCE to foster an ecosystem for innovation, to become the epicenter of clean energy innovation.”