NARUC's Center for Partnerships & Innovation, formerly known as the Research Lab, helps State commissions serve the public interest by delivering research and results to the Committees on Electricity, Energy Resources and the Environment, Gas, Water, and Critical Infrastructure. We are funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and other federal agencies.
CPI staff create and run projects that use research, papers, trainings, games, webcasts, and facilitated dialogues that provide answers to questions commissioners face in their decision-making. These projects currently address policy questions surrounding electric transmission, natural gas supply, liquefied natural gas, energy efficiency, wind, solar, and coal-fired generation, and infrastructure and cybersecurity issues for the energy, water, and telecommunications sectors.
The purpose of this paper is to review the interfaces between regulators and capital markets to explain the significance of financial market knowledge in public utility regulation. This topic is critical because IOUs finance their investments in utility infrastructure through debt and equity capital obtained from capital/financial markets. This report reviews the significance of financial markets to regulation, describes how key variables (such as cost of capital) are calculated, and describes opportunities for regulators to become educated about relevant financial market activity.
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This paper examines the present state of carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS and the challenges to widespread deployment in the energy sector. It explores the policy and technology environment for coal-fired power generation and CCUS for energy and industrial uses. It offers an array of actions policymakers and regulators can use to encourage CCUS adoption to extend the life of existing coal-fired power plants while drastically cutting carbon dioxide emissions, illuminating how the coal plant of the future could look.
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NARUC developed this Cybersecurity Strategy Development Guide to support state public utility commission (PUC) regulators in developing cybersecurity strategies tailored for their own commissions. This document aims to guide commissions’ interactions with their utilities on issues related to cybersecurity, drawing from the experiences of federal, state, and private-sector stakeholders, including state PUCs themselves. Further, it provides guidance and practices for regulators to consider as they develop and implement their strategies. Commissions that have already developed a strategy can use this guide to review and enhance their current strategy.
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Water poses many challenges to our nation’s electric power system. Water supply is a concern as every day more than 160 billion gallons of fresh and saline water are withdrawn to support various unit operations (e.g., steam cycle makeup water, air scrubbers, cooling water) for thermoelectric power generation, making it the largest withdrawer of water in the United States. The demand for electricity is growing and with it the need to site new capacity, often in locations with limited water supply options. Under extreme drought conditions power plants have been forced off-line due to streamflow/reservoir levels dropping below intake structures or water temperatures exceeding permitted operating conditions. Toward these challenges the Department of Energy has supported several of their National Labs to assist the nation’s three large electric interconnections in integrating water into their long-term transmission planning.
Much of this work is captured in four related studies. The results of these studies will be presented over a series of four, 60-minute webcasts. Stakeholders in the industry have been invited as panelists to share their perspective on the results. Time for Q&A will be available.
Monday, October 29, 2018 at 1 pm ET / 10 am PT
Characterization of Power Plant Water Use
Friday, November 30, 2018 at 1 pm ET / 10 am PT
Integrated Transmission Planning
Monday, December 3, 2018 at 1 pm ET / 10 am PT
Climate Impacts on Thermoelectric Power Generation
Monday, December 17, 2018 at 1 pm ET / 10 am PT
Energy for Water
The dual trends of utilities' increasing investments in the electric system and decreasing load growth have the potential to put upward perssure on electricity rates. Public utility commissions have the difficult responsibility of balancing the need to sufficiently fund electricity delivery with the need to preserve just and reasonable rates. This paper examines whether historic rate changes resulted in shortened tenure for public utility commissioners through a quantitative analysis of electricity rate and bill data and a set of interviews with current and former regulators. The analysis did not identify an obvious statistical relationsihp between large rate increases and effects on utility commissioners. However, the interviews resulted in a range of effective, ratepayer-centric strategies that have been useful to past commissions in times of crisis.
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The compendium can be found here.
The four workshops are taking place between September and November 2018.
Wednesday, November 14 | 12:30 - 5:30 pm
Loews Royal Pacific Orlando
At this interactive workshop, state regulators and market stakeholders will discuss ways to use DERs to improve resilience in both restructured and vertically integrated states. The discussion will find intersections between state regulators and bulk power system operators, develop policy options to advance resilient DERs, and establish connections between stakeholders to continue this important conversation.
State commissioners and public utility commission staff are welcome to participate and can receive limited travel reimbursement. Contact Kiera Zitelman at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP or request more information.
This workshop is open to commissioners and commission staff. Non-commission stakeholders are encouraged to contact Kiera Zitelman to discuss participation on a case-by-case basis.
As distributed energy resource (DER) adoption grows, the electric industry is shifting from a centralized model towards two-way power flow. Consequently, state and federal regulatory frameworks, utility business models, reliability and operating standards, planning and investment approaches, and wholesale markets will all need to evolve. NARUC explores issues for regulators to consider during this transition.
The report can be found here.
CPI has developed game-style trainings for regulators, commission staff, legislators, energy officials, and anyone who wants to be better informed about energy policy. These trainings consist of a presentation by Lab staff followed by an interactive gameplay session. We can adapt these trainings to benefit energy experts and novices alike.
We currently offer trainings on:
Check out our brief video demo of the MegaModel utility business model game (duration: 7 minutes).
In 2017, we offered these trainings for the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, the National Association of State Energy Officials and National Conference of State Legislatures, Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and the Legislative Energy Horizons Institute.
This third edition of NARUC’s cyber primer for regulators explores issues including cost recovery, information protection, supply chain issues, management of insider threats, and links to risk management processes. It also offers guidance for how state commissions can engage proactively and strategically by building on best practices of leading state in the field. It also provides twice the number of sample questions as version 2.0 of the primer that help explore how utilities are making prudent investments in cyber-preparedness. The report can be found here.
On December 22, 2016, NARUC CPI team members Miles Keogh & Sharon Thomas ran a webcast about a new primer that the NARUC Lab issued in winter 2016 that introduces risk management tools and concepts for regulators who may not be specialists in that area. Watch it here!
Do you ever feel like you're advised to make risk-based decisions, but aren't an expert at risk management? This is a paper about risk management for people who are new to it: what it is, how regulators can use it, and how they can ask questions to explore its use by the regulated utilities and other stakeholders they interact with. Risk management is a complex discipline that leverages statistics and other quantitative methods, as well as psychology and other qualitative methods, and this paper lays out an introduction to what risk management is and gives a few starting points for regulators interested in augmenting their processes with it. In particular, it focuses on ways that regulators can employ risk-informed thinking to make choices around the areas of critical infrastructure protection. Read it!
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We have a number of currently active projects.