Solar Technical Assistance for States

The Solar Technical Assistance Team (STAT) Network gathers NREL solar technology and deployment experts to provide unbiased information on solar policies and issues for state and local government decision makers.

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In general, the expert assistance is intended to support legislators, regulators, and their staff members in order to develop the market for solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies. The STAT Network is a project of the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative that is implemented in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The STAT Network program consists of:

Graphic of illustrations and statistics that summary the successes of the STAT activities.

STAT has helped a number of communities. Learn more about these successes by viewing this infographicPDF.

  1. State solar technical assistance—NREL provides direct technical assistance to state and local governments on matters that require solar market expertise to either answer a time-sensitive question or to provide expert testimony on policy best practices.
  2. Do-it-yourself online education—The STAT Network provides information on solar technologies, resources, and the role that state and local governments play in supporting the development of those resources to achieve their economic, environmental, and/or energy security goals. These can be found on the STAT Blog and Policy Basics pages, and past STAT Webinars.

For more information about the program, see the STAT fact sheetPDF, explore our interactive project map, and sign up for the Solar Technical Assistance Team email list. If you have any questions, please email them to stat@nrel.gov.

For examples of technical assistance provided at the state and local levels, see the Technical Assistance Project Map. Solar STAT Blog The Solar STAT blog discusses state and local efforts to develop solar markets in the United States. With support from the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, NREL’s Solar Technical Assistance Team (STAT) authors weekly posts related to events, solar policy analysis, and technical assistance outcomes for the purpose of informing the market in a credible and timely fashion.

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STAT Network attends NASEO’s 2017 Annual Meeting to Talk Low-income Community Solar with Partners September 25, 2017 by 

States are continually innovating on the solar policy and program front, with one of the more popular recent topics being community solar applications for low- and moderate income (LMI) populations. (See previous STAT blogs on community solar policies and efforts to expand solar access to LMI populations for additional background.)  Over the past year, NREL’sPDF Solar Technical Assistance Team (STAT) Network partnered with the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) and Lotus Engineering and Sustainability (Lotus) to analyze CEO’s Low-Income Community Solar Demonstration Project. The trio presented an overview of the analysis and lessons learned from the project at the annual meeting of the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) in New Orleans, Louisiana (agenda) last week. Continue reading

We are seeing rapid transformation in the rooftop solar market with falling costs PDFand increased deployment, but these changes don’t mean that every new building will suddenly be outfitted with a solar energy system tomorrow, or next week, or even next year. However, there are building design options that can be leveraged today in order to take advantage of potential solar installations in the future.

Solar-ready building design, as the name suggests, refers to designing and constructing a building in a way that facilitates and optimizes the installation of a rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) system at some point after the building has been constructed. Solar-ready design can make future PV system installation more cost-effective by reducing the need for infrastructure upgrades, ensuring solar technical feasibility, and planning for PV system optimization. Solar-ready design is not a new concept—several states and municipalities, including CaliforniaPDF and Tucson, Arizona, have already started including solar-ready design mandates in their building ordinances and policies*—but it is still a relevant one, particularly in areas experiencing new urban development. Continue reading

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Helping Communities Reach Renewable Energy Goals September 19, 2017 by  Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) is becoming a more prevalent method for local communities to source electricity. Under CCA programs, cities and local governments generate or buy electricity, usually from renewable energy sources, based on the needs of their residents. CCAs are a hybrid between municipal utilities and standard investor-owned utilities (IOU), as depicted in Figure 1. Typically, utilities (whether investor-owned or municipal) are responsible for purchasing and distributing power, grid maintenance, and customer service. Under a CCA program, the CCA, which is administered by the local government, purchases the power, while the incumbent IOU maintains the grid and provides customer service. Because the local government is involved in some of the standard utility functions, the CCA could be considered a middle ground between an IOU and a municipal utility. Continue reading

These findings are detailed in a new paper released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Clean Energy Group (CEG), Identifying Potential Markets for Behind-the-Meter Battery Energy Storage: A Survey of U.S. Demand ChargesPDF. It represents the first comprehensive analysis of commercial battery storage market opportunities across the U.S., finding that about 5 million customers nationwide may have the potential to cost-effectively invest in storage technologies today. Continue reading

Join NREL Experts in a full-day solar decision-making tools workshop June 16, 2017 by Alison Holm The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Solar Technical Assistance Team (STAT) Network is hosting a one-day training for state decision-makers on how to use NREL’s portfolio of solar tools to inform decisions. The meeting will focus primarily on the System Advisor Model (SAM); the Distributed Generation Market Demand (dGen) model and the Renewable Energy Planning and Optimization (ReOpt) platform. This training session will provide state energy office staff an opportunity to learn about the solar policy questions these tools can help answer and how NREL’s solar tools can contribute to more robust energy policy analyses. In addition, participants will benefit from in-depth, hands-on training using their own state-specific data to address targeted policy questions. Continue reading

Distributed solar capacity in the United States is on the rise: approximately 2,580 megawatts (MW) of new residential solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity was brought online in 2016, and installed capacity increased more than 50% every year between 2012 and 2015. This growth in distributed PV has been the source of numerous and wide-ranging policy discussions on interconnectionnet metering, and utility integrated resource planning. Another topic that has received considerably less attention in the distributed solar conversation is solar access—i.e., ensuring access to the amount of sunlight needed for a solar energy system to operate at its planned capacity. What happens, for example, if a property owner installs a rooftop PV system and his or her neighbor wants to build a second-story addition that would potentially shade the neighboring PV system, reducing its power output? To date, there have been relatively few documented solar access cases to offer guidance on potential approaches, and states and municipalities are beginning to consider the policy options to address these issues. Continue reading

An NREL Solar Technical Assistance Team (STAT) subject matter expert recently attended and spoke at the meeting of the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Operators (ASTSWMO) that was held in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative. Speakers from across the country presented the opportunities and successes of siting solar arrays on closed landfills and other contaminated sites to a diverse set of workshop participants, ranging from state energy offices and city planning departments to solar developers. Project case studies featured hundreds of megawatts of successful projects. Clarkstown, New York, for example, turned its closed landfill site into a valuable revenue generator for the city by implementing a 2.4-megawatt (MW) solar array. The message was clear: attendees are looking for ways to facilitate the re-use of contaminated lands for solar. Continue reading

Surveying the States: Policy Strategies for Fostering Clean Energy-related Economic Development March 23, 2017 by  To date, no one source has collected all of the clean energy-related economic development policies that states have adopted to spur growth. This has made it difficult to answer this important question: what policies foster the most job development and offer the best return on investment? A recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reportPDF serves as a foundation to answer this question. Continue reading
States are continually innovating on the solar policy and program front, with one of the more popular recent topics being community solar applications for low- and moderate income (LMI) populations. (See previous STAT blogs on community solar policies and efforts to expand solar access to LMI populations for additional background.)  Over the past year, NREL’s
Clean Energy Policy Basics – Clean Energy Policy Topics

States and local communities can create policy strategies to help them achieve their clean energy goals. To create effective strategies, it is helpful to understand how to build a clean energy policy portfolio and the different types of policies.

Clean Energy Policy Portfolios

Single policies do not transform markets for a clean energy economy in states and localities. The most effective approach is to apply a suite of policies in succession—from policies that prepare and create the market to those directed towards market expansion and saturation. To build such a policy portfolio at the state and local level, NREL analysts suggest using a framework that considers:

  • Barriers
  • Policy types
  • Different mixes of technologies.

For more information about NREL’s suggested framework, see State and Local Clean Energy Policy Primer: Getting from Here to Clean Electricity with PolicyPDF.

Clean Energy Policy Types

At the state and local level, the following policies are designed to meet specific clean energy goals.

Community Solar: Community solar, also known as shared solar or solar gardens, is a solar energy deployment model that allows customers to buy or lease part of an offsite shared solar PV system. Learn more.

Feed-In Tariffs: A feed-in tariff is an energy-supply policy focused on supporting the development of new renewable power generation. Learn more.

Green Banks: Green Banks are one mechanism used to deploy low-cost capital for solar energy projects by offering favorable rates and terms to both traditional and underserved markets. Learn more.

Interconnection Standards: Interconnection standards dictate how renewable energy systems can be legally connected to the electricity grid. Learn more.

Low- and Moderate-Income Solar Policy Basics: States are leading the charge in identifying and piloting various approaches to bring the benefits of solar power to low- and moderate-income consumers. Learn more.

Net Metering: Net metering is a metering and billing arrangement designed to compensate distributed energy generation system owners for any generation that is exported to the utility grid. Learn more.

Renewable Energy Rebates: States, utilities, and a few local governments offer rebates to promote the installation of renewable energy technologies. Learn more.

Renewable Fuel Standards: A renewable fuel standard mandates the increased development of renewable fuels, such as biofuels. Learn more.

Renewable Portfolio Standards: Renewable portfolio standards require utilities to use renewable energy or renewable energy credits to account for a certain percentage of their retail electricity sales — or a certain amount of generating capacity — according to a specified schedule. Learn more.

Solar Requests for Proposals: State and local governments issue solar RFPs to select a solar developer who is qualified to design, procure, install, and/or commission a photovoltaic project. Learn more.

Value-of-Solar Tariffs: A value-of-solar (VOS) tariff is a rate design policy that gives customers with solar installations credit for the electricity generated by a photovoltaic PV system. Learn more.

More Information: For more information, see the Publications page.