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Racing to Net-Zero


Our client, a mid-sized vertically integrated electric utility, announced one of the most aggressive net-zero carbon emissions goals in the United States. The company embarked on a long-term resource planning effort to meet this goal while maintaining reliability and affordability. The client faced several common challenges in this effort, including the consideration of a multitude of options, technology readiness, context and suitability for their territory, and the absence of a regulatory mandate that would require them to pursue lowcarbon options. ScottMadden was engaged to facilitate a long-term resource strategy that could meet ambitious decarbonization goals while maintaining (or improving upon) today’s levels of reliability.


  • Developed a framework for evaluating technologies which included: technology maturity, scale of potential carbon abatement, overnight and operating costs, capacity factors, risk and dispatchability
  • Facilitated workshops to focus on the preferred technologies within the short, intermediate, and long-term plan segments
  • Engaged with client’s resource planning team using their IRP model to interactively solve for the desired emission levels and understand financial and operational impacts


  • A long-term resource plan to achieve aggressive decarbonization goals while maintaining reliability
  • Provided a plan that incorporated and identified enablers (e.g., regulatory policy, pilot projects, grid capabilities, etc.) necessary to support the resource plan
  • Prepared the leadership team to approach their board and regulators with the financial impact of the plan under varying costs of carbon to help inform decision making
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May we suggest:

Carbon Reduction Begins with Carbon Accounting

Before setting any carbon reduction goals or developing a roadmap to achieve targets, organizations must first understand their emissions profile. Carbon accounting is the process of identifying and quantifying an organization’s carbon emissions that are associated with its operations. Once an organization understands the sources of its emissions, it can use that information to identify emissions hotspots, propose reduction opportunities, and establish attainable reduction targets.

Coal's Accelerated Burn: Drivers for Coal Plant Closures

A second wave of coal plant closures is projected across the United States in the next five to ten years. The first wave began in the early 2000s and was driven solely by economic considerations. The coming second wave will be driven by similar economic considerations but will be buoyed by socio-political factors. Net-zero, renewable portfolio standards, and other clean energy emission goals and mandates, coupled with a new emphasis on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives, will accelerate the timing of coal plant retirements. ScottMadden projects the end of coal as an electric generation source in the United States sometime within this century.

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Sussex Economic Advisors is now part of ScottMadden. We invite you to learn more about our expanded firm. Please use the Contact Us form to request additional information.