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Call for Applications: Analytical Support Program for Public Utility Commissions (Applications Due August 31, 2018)


The Analytical Support Program for Public Utility Commissions is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) initiative, in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), to provide high impact, in-depth analytical support for state public utility commissions (PUCs) that addresses barriers to the integration of solar photovoltaics (PV) within the U.S. electricity system. PUCs will have access to in-depth analytical support from the national laboratories on topics related to distribution system planning and regulatory, policy, programmatic, and technology assessments of solar plus other distributed energy resources (DERs). In this round of solicitations, hydropower and water related analytical support requests associated with resilience, flexibility and planning are also being accepted.

The national laboratories will work with state PUCs to provide neutral decision support through data-driven modeling, tools, and direct technical assistance from subject matter experts. Assistance may include: analysis support; stakeholder-convened discussions; education and training through workshops and webinars; and consultations with technical experts.

Application and Selection Process

State PUCs interested in receiving analytical support are encouraged to submit an application via email to Applications are due by 5pm ET on August 31, 2018. Applications can be downloaded here.

Prior to submitting a formal application, state PUCs are encouraged to talk with national laboratory contacts who can provide additional information and address questions related to time frame, budget range, and scope issues:

Juliet Homer - PNNL
Elizabeth Doris - NREL
Galen Barbose - LBNL

Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Request is well-defined, forward-looking, and within the scope of the Program;
  • Analysis has the potential for significant impact in the requesting state and for replicability in other states or regions; and
  • Timeline of request is compatible with the program timeline.

Project scoping with selected applicants is expected to take place Fall 2018. The anticipated start date for selected projects is between November 2018 and early January 2019. Submit applications via email by 5 pm ET on August 31, 2018 to the Solar Technical Assistance Team:

Examples of Possible Topics for Analytical Support

Examples of possible topics for analytical support for state PUC requests include:

Distribution System and Resource Planning

  • Distribution system planning and oversight
  • Emerging trends in distribution planning (e.g., multiple DER and load scenario forecasts, hosting capacity analysis, locational net benefits analysis)
  • Treatment of distributed solar PV in electricity resource planning
  • Integrated resource, transmission and distribution planning
  • Modeling integration across planning domains including energy-water nexus
  • System adequacy - hosting capacity and smart inverter considerations/assessments
  • Grid architectural assessments for managing system complexity, defining platforms, enabling resilience and cybersecurity, and future-proofing investments via structural means
  • Planning for resilience with solar PV plus other DERs - quantifying and capturing value

Regulation and Utility Business Models

  • Performance-based regulation: establishment of metrics and design of shareholder incentives to meet state policy goals (e.g., improvements in physical asset use, such as PV and other DER utilization, as well as process improvements such as predictable and timely interconnection processes)
  • Regulatory incentives and disincentives for utilities to make grid modernization investments needed to accommodate PV and other DERs
  • Roles of utilities and third parties in providing value-added services enabled by grid modernization, including the utility as a distribution system platform provider

Rate Design and Ratemaking

  • Innovative rate structures for community solar, commercial/industrial customers with PV, or coordination of PV with behind-the meter DER assets, including storage
  • Rate design issues for DER customers (e.g., design of time-varying rates and demand charges for DER customers; rate structures that separately price exported generation; linkage of rate designs/tariffs to valuation analysis of DER to grid and customers)
  • Distribution system pricing with DERs, both pricing of utility services to customers with DERs, as well as pricing of services these customers can provide to the utility system

Emerging Distribution Grid Technologies

  • Conservation voltage reduction
  • Integrated Volt-VAR optimization (IVVO) systems and Volt-VAR management applications (e.g., smart inverters, power flow controllers)
  • Solar plus storage for system resilience and microgrids; distribution storage networks
  • Demand response as a flexible distribution system asset
  • Sensor/communication network platforms for distribution grid observability

Solar and/or Hydropower Resource Planning and Assessment:

  • Planning for resilience with solar PV plus other DERs - quantifying and capturing value
  • Emerging hydropower generation technologies with locational or other unique benefits
  • Planning for resilience with hydropower separate from or in addition to solar PV
  • Characterizing hydropower flexibility / availability and assessing risk, value and system effects
  • Valuation or technical attributes of reliability services provided by large hydropower
  • Treatment of long-duration / high-volume water-based storage in electricity and water resource planning and assessments


Juliet Homer

Energy Policy and
Economics Group

EP&E Capabilities

EP&E Technical Teams

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