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Owen Smith

Former Principal


Owen Smith is a former principal with RMI’s electricity and communities practices. His areas of expertise include new utility business models, innovative electricity pricing structures, integrated resource planning, and whole-system community energy transformation. Owen joined RMI in 2013.

RMI Projects

At RMI, Smith consults with electric utilities, distributed energy resource providers, governments, and other energy system stakeholders to develop integrated energy strategies that deliver sustained economic advantage through deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy resources. He is a member of the senior team that leads RMI's Electricity Innovation Lab (eLab).

Smith leads RMI’s work on the topic of innovative electricity pricing structures. He was lead author on the 2014 eLab publication: Rate Design for the Distribution Edge, which describes new pricing structures that can resolve the growing misalignments in the electricity system as customers increasingly move to take advantage of innovative energy technologies. He has collaborated with multiple utilities and electricity system stakeholders to accelerate the deployment of these advanced rate solutions.

Smith manages eLab’s work on developing solutions for low-income customers as the electricity system undergoes significant transformation. This new initiative seeks to bring together energy system stakeholders to deploy integrated solutions in specific locations that meet the needs of these critical customer groups as the deployment of distributed energy resources accelerates. 

Smith also co-leads RMI’s communities practice, which seeks to partner with select cities and regions to capture economic benefits from taking bold actions to transform entire energy systems, including the community’s electricity, mobility, and building efficiency requirements. Smith leads RMI’s ongoing partnership with the city of Palo Alto that is assessing the merits of accelerating already ambitious climate goals and developing actionable implementation plans.


Prior to joining RMI, Owen was with Duke Energy for over a decade, where he developed a broad base of experiences in the electric utility industry through a number of distinct leadership roles across the company. A significant portion of his time at Duke Energy was focused on addressing needs and identifying opportunities pertaining to renewable energy within the company’s multi-state regulated utility business. In this regard, Owen led multiple cross-functional teams including ones focused on the deployment of utility-owned distributed scale and utility scale solar assets, including business case development, regulatory approvals, and project execution. Owen also led Duke’s efforts to assess the operational impacts of variable renewable resources, and to develop new utility rate structures to better reflect their costs and benefits; as well as to enable customers to procure renewable energy through the utility. Through these experiences Owen holds a deep understanding of utility regulation and legislative matters across multiple states, rate design, utility business models, distributed energy resources, and investment and operational requirements to accommodate growth of variable renewables.

Owen’s earlier work at Duke included roles of increasing levels of responsibility across multiple areas of the company, including mergers and acquisitions; corporate growth initiatives; finance; and customer marketing and research.


  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Executive Development Program
  • Queens University – Executive Leadership Program
  • Masters in Business Administration, Wake Forest University
  • Bachelor of Arts, East Carolina University


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