NREL Conduit Blog

The NREL Conduit Blog discusses research relevant to state, local, and tribal governments. Contributing authors provide posts related to events, policy analysis, and decision support outcomes to inform the market in a credible and timely fashion.

Tracking State Efforts to Foster Economic Development through Clean Energy Research and Development Agencies

Aug. 25, 2016 by Jeffrey J. Cook

In 2015, Virginia enacted SB 1099 establishing the Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority within the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to, among other stipulations, foster solar deployment, jobs, and economic development within the state. Ultimately, state governments are active in implementing clean energy-related economic development policies with the intention of driving job growth and manufacturing in their respective states. Virginia's approach to house all of these activities within one entity is an emerging trend across the states. This article documents the range of similar public organizations and their programs across the country, to inform policymakers considering a more comprehensive clean energy-related economic development approach, while also documenting potential research, development, and commercialization partners for the solar industry. Continue reading

Phrase of the Day: Rate Base

Sept. 16, 2015 by Alexandra Aznar, Joyce McClaren

Rate of return regulation is a type of regulation that allows utilities to cover their operating expenses (i.e., variable costs) and ensure a fair rate of return on capital investments. The public utility commission determines the allowable rate of return for each utility. The utility’s rate base is the total value of a utility’s assets (e.g., plant, equipment, working capital, and deductions for accumulated depreciation). Both the rate of return and the rate base are components of the utility’s revenue requirement, which the utility collects from customers in the form of electricity rates. Continue reading

Meet a Solar Financing Expert: Travis Lowder

April 2, 2015 by Alexis Powers, Erin Nobler, John De La Rosa, Sherry Stout

This STAT Chat podcast features Travis Lowder, an energy analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, discussing solar financing as part of our Meet a Solar Expert series. Continue reading

Word of the Day: Levelized Cost of Electricity

March 6, 2015 by Alexandra Aznar

When analysts want to compare the cost of generating electricity from various sources such as wind, solar, coal, and natural gas, they often use a metric called the levelized cost of electricity or LCOE. This amount is typically displayed as cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). In the power industry, the LCOE is also referred to as the “bus bar” cost. Continue reading

Hot Topics: Community Solar Gardens

Feb. 12, 2015 by Alexis Powers, Erin Nobler, John De La Rosa, Sherry Stout

This STAT Chat podcast features Jason Coughlin, a solar analyst and financing expert at NREL, discussing current approaches to community or shared solar programs. Continue reading

The Ins and Outs of Solar Leasing

Jan. 8, 2015 by Sherry Stout

Leasing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system can help homeowners gain access to solar power without some of the hassles of ownership, but they need to understand the lease components to be sure they are getting a fair deal. Continue reading

Solar Technical Assistance Team Profile: Jason Coughlin

Oct. 16, 2014 by Sherry Stout

Jason Coughlin, a member of the Solar and Buildings Technologies Group at NREL, answers six questions about his work. Continue reading