research lab

NARUC Center for Partnerships & Innovation

Our Mission

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.

What's New / What's Next:


Webcast! Treasure from Trash? Extracting Rare Earth Elements from Coal Mine Drainage

Tuesday, February 27 | 2:00 - 3:00 pm Eastern 

Seventeen elements in the middle of the periodic table, known as rare earth elements (REEs), are critical ingredients in everything from smartphones and MRIs to radar and weapons systems. China produces nearly all of the $5 billion global market for REEs, posing economic and national security risks to the U.S. To counter these risks, the National Energy Technology Lab has funded a portfolio of research projects studying the feasibility of extracting REEs from coal and coal byproducts, including a project at West Virginia University's Water Research Institute to develop a cost-effective method to treat and recover REEs from coal-fired power plants' acid mine drainage. Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz leads the project and will address NARUC members on his team's findings so far and the future of their work. Q&A will follow.

Register in advance here


NEW PAPER! Evolution of the Distribution System and the Potential for Distribution-Level Markets: A Primer for State Utility Regulators 

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.


Games with CPI

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: 

  • distribution system planning; 
  • utility risk management; and
  • utility business models and performance-based regulation. 

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. 


NEW PAPER! Cybersecurity Primer for State Regulators, 3.0 

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.


Webcast Recording! Risk Management for Regulators

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!


NEW PAPER! Risk Management for Regulators

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!  

Center for Partnerships & Innovation Staff

Have a question? We’re friendly and here to help!

Danielle Byrnett
Kerry Worthington
Kiera Zitelman



We have a number of currently active projects.

  • Electricity Policy Innovation (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)
  • State Electricity Regulators Technical Assistance (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)
  • Carbon Management (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)
  • Energy Assurance & Critical Infrastructure Protection (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)
  • Natural Gas Infrastructure Modernization (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)
  • Smart Grid (Funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce)