Melissa Whited

Principal Associate

Melissa Whited

MA Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin

MS Environment and Resources, University of Wisconsin

BA International Studies, Southwestern University

Melissa Whited specializes in issues related to utility regulation and rate design, particularly in response to fundamental changes in the electricity industry spurred by declining energy use and rapidly increasing penetration of distributed energy resources. Ms. Whited consults on the tools to effectively address these changes, including performance-based regulation, revenue decoupling mechanisms, and innovative rate design.

Ms. Whited led the development of a handbook for regulators on utility performance incentive mechanisms, which describes best practices in mechanism design and how such mechanisms can help utilities transition to alternative business models. She has presented on performance incentive mechanisms to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, National Governor’s Association Learning Lab on New Utility Business Models, Midwest Governors’ Association, and the Minnesota e21 Initiative working group. In addition, Ms. Whited has provided consulting services regarding the incorporation of distributed energy resources in utility planning processes in New York's "Reforming the Energy Vision” proceeding.

In the rate design arena, Ms. Whited's work focuses on the development of rate designs that effectively balance the fundamental principles of revenue sufficiency, fair apportionment of costs, and efficiency of use. She has authored numerous reports and testimony regarding the impacts of fixed charges and demand charges on low‐income customers, customers with distributed generation, and the ability of states to achieve their energy policy goals.

Ms. Whited’s expertise also encompasses water resource issues. In 2013, Ms. Whited led a study examining the water resource impacts and vulnerabilities of the U.S. power sector. Prior to rejoining Synapse as an associate in 2012, she published in the Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy regarding the economic impacts of irrigation water transfers, and analyzed water resource efficiency options for Wisconsin. Ms. Whited holds two master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin: an MA in agricultural and applied economics and an MS in environment and resources. 

Selected Recent Publications

Performance-Based Regulation in a High Distributed Energy Resources Future

Synapse Energy Economics and Pacific Economics Group Research for Lawrence Berkeley Labs, 2016

Authors: Tim Woolf, Mark Newton Lowry, Melissa Whited

Caught in a Fix: The Problem with Fixed Charges for Electricity

Synapse Energy Economics for Consumers Union, 2016

Authors: Melissa Whited, Tim Woolf, Joseph Daniel

Direct Testimony Regarding National Grid Rate Design Proposal

Synapse Energy Economics for Energy Freedom Coalition of America, 2016

Authors: Tim Woolf, Melissa Whited