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Solar Technical Assistance Team Profile: Alex Aznar

April 16, 2015 by Alexandra Aznar

Alex Aznar answers seven questions about her work.

What are your primary research interests?

I’m interested in the role cities play in leading clean energy innovation, climate mitigation, and adaption. In general, I’m always thinking about how quickly we can decarbonize global energy production while addressing equity concerns. These challenging issues require participation from all levels of government, so cities can be a major player.

What did you do prior to joining NREL?

I was an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher for several years before I returned to graduate school to study energy and climate change policy. While in graduate school, I received great hands-on experience working for a university sustainability office, local planning department, and doing energy research.

What has been your favorite project since coming to NREL?

I’m enjoying a project called Cities Leading Through Energy Planning and Analysis (Cities-LEAP) that focuses on enabling U.S. cities to make better data-driven energy decisions. As part of the project, I’ve had the opportunity to interview and learn from city staff making energy changes in their cities. Their work is fascinating and inspiring.

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

If and how states will use solar technologies as a compliance tool for the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan interests me greatly.

What opportunities do you see for solar in 2015?

I think solar technologies are going to be increasingly valued for their resiliency benefits. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many communities are interested in how they can use solar in disaster management. Not only storms, but droughts like the one California is experiencing right now may also encourage states to increase solar deployment, especially when they can’t reliably depend on other renewable energy sources like hydropower.

What challenges do you see for the solar industry in 2015?

I’m curious how the solar industry will respond to an increasing number of proposals currently going through public utility commissions that may reduce net metering benefits and add higher fixed charges for solar customers.

What are your non-work interests/activities?

I try to spend as much time outdoors as possible, which typically involves hiking and birding. I also love reading and seeing live theater.

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