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Solar STAT Blog

This blog discusses state and local efforts to develop solar markets in the United States. With support from the Energy Department's SunShot Initiative, members of NREL's Solar Technical Assistance Team (STAT) author posts related to events, solar policy analysis, and technical assistance outcomes for the purpose of informing the market in a credible and timely fashion.

Hot Topics Part Two: Cities, Energy Use, and Local Energy Decision Making

November 04, 2015 by Alexandra Aznar, Erin Nobler

This STAT Chat podcast features Alexandra Anzar, a member of the solar technical assistance team at NREL, talking about the energy areas that cities are prioritizing, how they plan energy-related activities and measure their progress, and why cities adopt these practices to varying degrees. Continue reading

A Western Perspective on the Clean Power Plan

October 19, 2015 by Jeffrey J. Cook

After the Labor Day weekend, state air quality officials, energy office personnel, utility commissioners, utilities, and a host of other western regional stakeholders converged in Denver, Colorado for a workshop on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan (CPP) hosted by Colorado State University’s Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE). The goal of the workshop and previous workshops convened by CNEE, was to build a common understanding among western regulators, utilities, and other stakeholders around the CPP and critical issues that states will face in thinking through compliance. Continue reading

Solar Technical Assistance Team Profile: Eliza Hotchkiss

October 12, 2015 by Eliza Hotchkiss

Eliza Hotchkiss, newly appointed Policy and Technical Assistance Section Supervisor, starts STAT’s new fiscal year by answering six questions about her work. Continue reading

New Regulations, New Technology, and a New Grid? Takeaways from the 2015 NASEO Annual Meeting

October 02, 2015 by Alexandra Aznar

Sunny San Diego welcomed state energy officials and their affiliates to the 2015 National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) annual meeting September 13-16. The theme was “Interconnected: Smart Energy Policies, Clean Energy Investments, and the Cloud.” As an affiliate, I had the opportunity to share information about state and local clean energy  policies as well as the types of technical assistance the Solar Technical Assistance Team  (STAT) provides to state-level decision makers.  Several themes emerged from the whirlwind of presentations, discussions, and one-on-one conversations with participants. Continue reading

Meet a Solar Expert: Caleb Rockenbaugh

September 28, 2015 by Erin Nobler

This STAT Chat podcast features Caleb Rockenbaugh, an engineer for the Technical Assessment and Screening group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). He talks about his role and details several of the projects that he's worked on through the country. Continue reading

Phrase of the Day: Rate Base

September 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

Phrase of the Day: Peak Load

August 27, 2015 by Alexandra Aznar

Peak load, also known as peak demand, refers to the maximum demand for energy during a given time period, typically a day (EIA, 2015). The figure below shows a fairly typical 24-hour load curve for summer and winter months at one location. The demand for energy in the summer rises throughout the day and peaks in the late afternoon. The pattern is similar, but not as pronounced in the winter due to differences between heating and cooling needs. Continue reading

Meet a Solar Expert Part Two: Carolyn Davidson

August 21, 2015 by Erin Nobler

This STAT Chat podcast features Carolyn Davidson, an economic analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), discussing data-driven market analysis and modeling as part of our Meet a Solar Expert series meant to give listeners a behind the scenes look at the working world of industry professionals. Continue reading

Solar Energy Improving Resiliency: A Look at California During a Historical Drought

August 19, 2015 by Alexandra Aznar

In February, the Solar STAT blog featured a post on 2012’s Hurricane Sandy and  how solar PV can support disaster resiliency . Extreme weather events are not limited to hurricanes, of course. Others, like California’s ongoing drought, pose additional challenges for electricity generators but also demonstrate an emerging role for solar energy. Continue reading

The RAPID Toolkit: Facilitating Utility-Scale Renewable Energy Development

August 10, 2015 by Megan Day

The Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop (RAPID) Toolkit provides information about federal, state, and local permitting and regulations for utility-scale renewable energy and transmission projects—including large-scale solar projects in certain areas. In particular, the RAPID Toolkit now includes federal permitting information applicable in any state and state-level permitting requirements in California and Nevada for large-scale solar projects. Continue reading