Solar Technical Assistance Team Profile: Elizabeth Doris

July 1, 2014 by Sherry Stout

Elizabeth Doris, a senior project leader for policy and technical assistance, answers five questions about her work at NREL.

Photo styled as a professional headshot in front of a grey backdrop.

Elizabeth Doris, IE Senior Project Leader, Policy and Technical Assistance.

What are your primary research interests?

I am most interested in understanding how policy, particularly state and local policy, can support jurisdictional economic and environmental goals by supporting technology adoption. I love to see how policies interact and behave in the market. Sometimes I read articles about these policies and think, "Why is that policy having THAT impact?" and that's what I really want to know.

What were you working on this morning?

This morning I was looking at the impact of different kinds of residential demand response programs in municipal utilities. These programs haven't been widely used for a variety of reasons, but seem to be picking up speed as technology allows for improved two-way interaction with consumers.

What is the most interesting issue in solar for you right now?

The most interesting thing to me is that the distributed generation market seems to be at a point where flexibility in the policies is critical. As recently as a few years ago, the strategy was to set up a series of incentives to encourage market adoption. Now, as there are more price, adoption, and workforce fluctuations in the market, the most successful policies seem to be the ones that are flexible enough to move with the changing times. Those are sometimes a bit harder to set up, implement, AND make sure they are working in the way they are intended. I love that the policy landscape is changing with the market—it's really exciting.

Photo of a female laughing while standing in front of a projector and white board.

Liz leads workshop participants in a learning game of Jeopardy at the Tribal Community- and Facility-Scale Renewable Energy Project Development and Finance Workshop Sept. 18–20, 2013. Photo by John De La Rosa/NREL

What is your favorite thing about providing technical assistance?

I really enjoy working with the decision makers to reach their goals. Our requestors are smart, engaged people with real challenges to solve. Helping them understand how solar can (or can't) help them reach those goals in a timely manner and in a way that they can digest quickly so they can move on with their busy lives is really rewarding. Also, I like to look back and see how requests from years ago are really starting to have a broad impact. It takes patience, but I love that aspect.

What are you reading outside of work? What are your non-work interests?

I am obsessed with education policy right now, particularly how policies put in place in that field seem to frequently have unintended consequences that have big impacts on shaping how American kids develop and get educated. As a result, I'm reading a lot of court cases, commentary, and legislative bills in different states so that I can learn about the different strategies for providing high quality public education to America's youth. We need more technical assistance providers, and I'm happiest if we start 'em young.