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Eric Wanless



Eric is a Principal with RMI’s international practice, where he leads the Sustainable Energy for Economic Development work and serves as a key adviser for RMI’s China program. He is an expert in energy strategy development and implementation and product and market design innovation for electric utilities, governments, heavy industry, and corporations. He has been involved with RMI in various capacities since starting as a fellow in 2005.


  • International—Eric led work with the Government of Rwanda and the country’s off-grid private sector to develop an actionable plan to improve the reliability, economics, and environmental impact of the power grid and accelerate private sector deployment of stand alone solar home systems to electrify significant portions of the population. He also led RMI’s Reinventing Fire China industrial work that identified economic opportunities save more energy in the Chinese industrial sector than is consumed by the entire U.S. industrial sector.
  • Industrial energy—Eric’s experience in working with industrial clients includes the radical redesign of a large refinery to demonstrate concrete deep energy and cost savings, developing an achievable low-carbon vision for one of the largest mining companies in the world, creating a renewable energy and efficiency strategy for a large consumer products manufacturer, and improving the energy efficiency of a remote tuna cannery.   
  • Electric utility planning and analysis—Eric has worked with a diverse set of electric utilities, including Fort Collins Utilities, Duke Energy, Southern California Edison, the Rwanda Energy Group, and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. He also led an early RMI effort to evaluate the value of real-time demand response as a tool to enable large penetrations of variable renewable energy resources. 


Before joining RMI, Eric worked with the Research and Policy group at Ecova where he led efforts to identify, quantify, and pursue significant cost-effective energy savings in computers and other IT equipment. These efforts leveraged deep engineering teardowns and analysis, energy policy expertise, and ultimately led to the development of more aggressive voluntary and mandatory efficiency standards on state, federal, and international levels. 

Eric has also worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council implementing collaborative energy efficiency policy in California and as a senior field instructor teaching leadership and communication with the National Outdoor Leadership School.


  • Master of Science in Energy Engineering, Stanford University
  • Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering, Stanford University 


  • MAP Sustainable Energy Fellow, 2005, 2006
  • LEED Accredited Professional


  • Creyts, Jon, Yande Dai, Lynn Price, et al., Reinventing Fire China, pending publication. 
  • Price, Lynn et al., Envisioning China’s Energy-Efficient and Low-Carbon Industrial Sector in 2050: Reinventing Fire Pathway Vision and Methodology, CCEEE 2014 Fall Study on Industrial Efficiency, October, 2014.
  • Campbell, Martha, Eric Wanless, Jamie Mandel, et al., Integrated Utility Services: A New Business Model For Fort Collins Utilities, Rocky Mountain Institute, September, 2014.   
  • Wanless, Eric et al., Cost Effective Computer Efficiency, Pacific Gas and Electric, December, 2012.
  • Lighthiser, Erica, Eric Wanless and Laura Moorefield, Pulling the Plug on Miscellaneous Electric Loads, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, March, 2012.  
  • Wanless, Eric, Laura Moorefield, Luke Mason, Kevin Simonson, and Chris Calwell, The 2x Bulb: A New Opportunity for Generating Incremental Energy Savings from New Incandescents that Use Half the Energy and Last Twice as Long, Natural Resources Defense Council, November, 2011.
  • Lovins, Amory, et al. Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era, Rocky Mountain Institute, 2011.
  • Wanless, Eric, et al., A Golden Opportunity: California’s Solutions for Global Warming, Natural Resources Defense Council, June, 2007. 
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