Synapse analyzed the residential demand response programs of three New Jersey electric distribution companies.
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On behalf of Consumers for Sensible Energy and a number of other non-governmental organizations, Synapse analyzed the need for, and the cost of, the Access Northeast (ANE) natural gas pipeline. As proposed, the ANE pipeline relies on a new funding mechanism whereby electric ratepayers would pay for new gas pipelines. This unprecedented funding proposal has spurred controversy and litigation: the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission both rejected this approach, declaring that it violates state laws enacted to restructure the electric utility sector and to protect consumers from undue financial risk. Pipeline proponents claim that the ANE pipeline is needed to relieve capacity constraints on New England’s natural gas pipeline system and that the cost of the pipeline is justified because it will ultimately save money for New England electric ratepayers.
Synapse’s analysis showed otherwise. Any savings created by the ANE pipeline are likely to be outweighed by its costs, which are more than twice what proponents have generally reported. The analysis also indicated that the need for natural gas in New England will decrease dramatically within a few years of ANE’s construction. This would alleviate the capacity constraints cited to justify the pipeline. Synapse modeled energy use, prices, and emissions in a base scenario in which there is no new pipeline compared to a scenario in which the ANE pipeline is constructed.
New England's Shrinking Need for Natural Gas
Synapse is providing expert technical consulting services to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) related to Exelon Corporation’s proposed acquisition of Pepco Holdings Incorporated. Specifically, Synapse reviewed the value of the benefits and commitments of the merger and concerns regarding concentration of ownership, market power, and market manipulation in the wholesale electricity market. Synapse is submitting testimony in the legal proceeding on behalf of DNREC. Synapse performed similar analysis related to the merger on behalf of clients in Maryland, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.
Direct Testimony of Paul Peterson Regarding Concentration of Ownership, Market Power, and Potential Market Manipulation Related to the Proposed Exelon-Pepco Merger in Delaware
Synapse provided expert technical consulting services to the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel related to Exelon Corporation’s proposed acquisition of Pepco Holdings. Specifically, Synapse reviewed the Joint Applicants' economic impact analysis; merger-related reliability issues; and concerns regarding concentration of ownership, market power, and market manipulation. Synapse submitted testimony in the legal proceeding on behalf of the NJ DRC. Synapse performed similar analysis related to the merger on behalf of clients in Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
Direct Testimony of Paul Peterson on Market Power Issues Related to the Exelon-Pepco Merger in New Jersey
Direct Testimony of Tyler Comings Regarding Economic Impact Analysis in Proposed Exelon-PHI Merger in New Jersey
Conservation Law Foundation retained Synapse to provide technical analysis related to the petition of Exelon for approval to construct and operate a 200 megawatt combustion turbine electric power generation facility in Medway, Massachusetts. Specifically, Synapse reviewed the modeling and testimony of Analysis Group regarding the proposed facility’s impact on compliance with the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act.
Synapse is actively working with a group of stakeholders to engage in the development of the Energy Information Administration's 2016 Annual Energy Outlook (AEO), to be released in mid-2016. The AEO is a critical source of publicly available information for public interest stakeholders working to improve planning and decision-making in the energy sector. Synapse is participating in working groups associated with three key areas of the 2016 AEO: the renewable energy sector, the electricity sector, and the residential/commercial buildings sector. Modeling of EPA’s Clean Power Plan will be a major change in the 2016 AEO from previous forecasts. Synapse is working with other stakeholders to participate actively in this process and advocate for reasonable policy and technology assumptions.
For more information on the AEO 2016 development process, contact Patrick Luckow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AEO Buildings Working Group Meeting Notes - February 18, 2016
AEO Electricity Working Group Meeting Notes - February 10, 2016
AEO Renewables Working Group Meeting Notes - February 9, 2016
AEO Buildings Working Group Meeting Notes – December 8, 2015
AEO Electricity Working Group Meeting Notes – December 8, 2015
AEO Renewable Working Group Meeting Notes – December 7, 2015
In 2014-2015, Berkshire Gas in Massachusetts placed a moratorium on new services in part of its territory after identifying distribution capacity constraints and insufficient supply resources. On July 8, 2016, Berkshire Gas filed a petition with the Department of Public Utilities seeking approval of its Long-Range Forecast and Supply Plan (F&SL) under D.P.U. 16-103. The company based its plan on analysis of various resource options to increase access to natural gas for the region as a precursor to lifting the moratorium.
On behalf of the Town of Montague, Synapse reviewed and assessed the reasonableness of Berkshire Gas’s F&SL. Our review of the resource plan revealed that while the plan included energy efficiency and demand response as options, it gave little attention to such resources. Instead, the company recommended investment in extensive and expensive new infrastructure options. We concluded that the company could lift the moratorium by implementing a few simple steps: (a) re-establish curtailable agreements with two large customers that already have dual-fuel capability, and (b) change the way it estimates impacts from current and future energy efficiency programs. We also identified additional demand-side resource potential by analyzing the historical performance of gas energy efficiency programs in New England, current program offerings, and a new gas demand-response program based on internet-connected thermostats. Our analysis concluded that with these expanded demand-side resources, the company could expect future peak load to decline from today’s level over the next five years. Furthermore, the future load forecast could be even lower if it incorporated potential impacts from emerging technologies and other factors. Specifically, electric heat pumps and the state’s existing climate change policies are highly likely to lead to substantial electrification in various sectors and to lower overall gas consumption.
In collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Synapse is assisting the Advanced Manufacturing Office of the U.S. Department of Energy in developing a set of resources (i.e., a toolkit) to demonstrate the value and communicate the approach of the Better Buildings Initiative - Superior Energy Performance (SEP) Accelerator to utilities, regulators, and industrial customers. Integrating input from key energy efficiency program administrators (PAs), Synapse is developing a toolkit providing the necessary information, resources, frameworks for analysis, and case studies that will facilitate the development and deployment of ratepayer-funded SEP program offerings. Among other resources, the toolkit includes a Cost Effectiveness Screening Tool to assist PAs with determining if developing offerings for SEP is likely to achieve positive net benefits, and a SEP Filing Guide to provide PAs with guidance on the information to include in their program plans.
On behalf of the Illinois Office of the Attorney General, Synapse reviewed Commonwealth Edison Company’s (ComEd) proposal for a voltage optimization validation project within the context of ComEd’s formula rate proceeding. Principal Associates Max Chang and Bob Fagan submitted testimony before the Illinois Commerce Commission (Case 16-0259) addressing ComEd’s planned Voltage Optimization Validation Program and its opportunities for data analytics. Synapse’s analysis found that ComEd’s validation study did not adequately demonstrate that the program would address the company’s challenges. Mr. Chang and Mr. Fagan recommended that the Commission direct ComEd to adopt a more comprehensive and robust validation study for voltage optimization. Mr. Chang and Mr. Fagan also recommended that the Commission require ComEd to provide information regarding the development of a long-term plan to fully utilize data gathered from the installation of smart meters and modern distribution infrastructure.
On behalf of Save the Sound, Synapse is comparing recent studies on the need for new and expanded natural gas pipeline infrastructure proposed by Kinder Morgan subsidiary Tennessee Gas Pipeline in Connecticut and surrounding states. Within the context of Connecticut energy demand and climate laws, the team is reviewing and synthesizing the findings of three separate New England natural gas demand reports released in 2015, examining issues related to compliance with Connecticut’s Global Warming Solutions Act, and placing these findings in the context of expected near- and medium-term capacity and demand of natural gas in Connecticut.
Sierra Club retained Synapse to review Dayton Power and Light’s (DP&L) application for approval of an electric security plan (Cases No. 16-0395-EL-SSO, 16-396-EL-ATA, and 16-397-EL-AAM). Synapse’s review focused on DP&L’s proposed Distribution Modernization Rider (DRM) and the value and outlook of the Company’s coal fleet. The proposed DRM would charge ratepayers $145 million per year over seven years. These charges would subsidize risky capital investments in the Company’s coal assets—several of which have been determined by other owners to have value and be unreliable. On behalf of Sierra Club, Tyler Comings submitted testimony to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio demonstrating the coal fleet’s low value and poor reliability and recommending that the Commission deny the DMR.
Synapse was retained to provide expert witness and consulting services to the Hawaii Division of Consumer Advocacy in a proceeding to develop and review integrated resource plans (IRPs) for three electric companies. Topics include scenario planning, resource modeling, community and stakeholder input processes, and analysis of locally produced biofuels, wind and solar energy opportunities (both distributed and large scale), battery storage, and other renewable energy options. The three major electric companies supplying 95 percent of Hawaii’s electricity are simultaneously facing the need to retrofit or replace existing generation impacted by new environmental regulations and the onset of a very stringent renewable portfolio standard (40 percent by 2030). Imported fossil fuel costs are the primary driver behind high electricity rates and subject Hawaiian residents to rapidly fluctuating prices. Currently all of the Hawaiian Islands operate their electricity systems independently; a major planning issue going forward is interconnecting several of the islands using undersea cables in order to better integrate and manage high levels of variable renewable energy. On behalf of the client, Synapse is reviewing these key issues and addressing how best to meet future constraints and policy goals while minimizing costs to consumers.
Direct Testimony of Rick Hornby Regarding HECO & HELCO’s Application for a Biofuel Supply Contract with AKP
Direct Testimony of Patrick Luckow Regarding HECO & HELCO’s Application for a Biofuel Supply Contract with AKP
Since 2007, Synapse has assisted the Cape Light Compact with various aspects of their participation in the New England Forward Capacity Market (FCM). Project ongoing.
The Massachusetts restructuring law enables municipal aggregators to implement energy efficiency programs with funds raised from all customers through a system benefits charge. More than 13 years ago, Synapse designed the energy efficiency programs that are being provided by the Cape Light Compact, the municipal aggregator on Cape Cod. Since then, Synapse has assisted the Cape Light Compact (the Compact) with energy efficiency plan, annual report, and energy efficiency charge reconciliation filing preparation, including energy efficiency data reporting and analysis and policy support. Energy efficiency data reporting and analysis includes processing of data from the Compact’s database into tables for plans and reports and analysis of the plans and reports, preparation of the exhibits for the energy efficiency charge reconciliation filing, and drafting of memos on key aspects of filings as needed to inform stakeholder review. Policy support includes implementing key outcomes of Massachusetts Department of Public Utility (MA DPU) Orders, developing positions in open dockets, representing the Compact in stakeholder working groups, and providing expert testimony before the MA DPU.
The Cape Light Compact Energy Efficiency Plan Phase II: 2003-2007
Serious, imminent, and irreversible damages to natural ecosystems, infrastructure, agricultural production, and human health make dramatic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions a key priority for communities around the world. Most greenhouse gases are emitted as a result of our use of energy, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is no exception in this regard. Delaware Riverkeeper Network asked Synapse Energy Economics and EQ Research to find a path forward that will enable Pennsylvania to serve its energy needs entirely with clean, zero‐emission renewables by 2050.
On October 20, 2016, Synapse joined EQ Research and Delaware Riverkeeper Network to present a public webinar discussing the report. A recording is available on Delaware Riverkeeper Network's website.
Press Conference: "Envisioning Pennsylvania's Energy Future" Report Release
Envisioning PAs Energy Future (Public Webinar Slides)
The Maryland Office of People’s Counsel retained Synapse to review the independent assessment of two offshore wind applications before the Maryland Public Service Commission in Case 9431. The two proposals under consideration are from US WInd for a 248 MW wind farm and Deepwater Wind for a 120 MW wind farm. Maryland's Offshore Renewable Energy Credit legislation establishes administrative thresholds for each offshore wind application and evaluation criteria for the Commission to use in its review. Synapse reviewed the findings, inputs, and calculations of the independent assessment and the two applications to provide recommendations regarding the renewable energy credit payments, ratepayer impacts, economic impacts, and net benefits attributed to each proposed project. Max Chang submitted testimony on behalf of MD OPC in March 2017. Project Ongoing.
In response to the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s questions on evaluation, measurement, and verification (EM&V) methods, Synapse prepared a memo where we reviewed, summarized, and provided recommendations with respect to current EM&V practices in Virginia, national best practices, and emerging practices enabled by the development and adoption of new information and communications technologies. The memo also discussed inputs and recommendations for methodologies to calculate the levelized cost of saved energy. The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council included the memo with its May 25, 2016 comments to the State Corporation Commission in Case PUE-2016-00022.
Synapse is providing expert testimony in an Eversource rate case, with rate design, net metering, and other issues related to distributed energy resources.
Massachusetts’ Green Communities program helps the state’s 351 cities and towns find and successfully implement clean energy solutions. To receive Green Community designation, communities must develop and implement a plan to reduce energy use by 20 percent within five years and meet additional criteria including allowing for permitting and siting of renewable energy, purchasing fuel-efficient and alternative fuel vehicles, and adopting more stringent building codes. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources has engaged Synapse and its subcontractor Lexicon Energy Consulting to review 129 Green Community Annual Reports, develop a Progress Report for the program highlighting achievements to date, and analyze and verify energy data for select towns. Synapse will also identify strategies that are effective across towns, provide support to towns to meet their energy reduction goal, and make recommendations to continue to advance and improve the program.
Synapse is providing expert assistance and testimony on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with its investigation of potential violations of the Clean Air Act by Ameren Missouri.
Synapse is assisting the Hawaii Division of Consumer Advocacy in an investigation to reexamine the existing decoupling mechanisms for the Hawaiian Electric Companies (Docket 2013-0141). The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission opened this investigation to determine whether the existing decoupling mechanisms, including both the Revenue Balancing Account (RBA) and the Revenue Adjustment Mechanism (RAM), are effectively serving their intended purposes, are fair to the HECO Companies and ratepayers, and are in the public interest. Schedule A of this docket addressed interest rates, tax deferrals, risk sharing mechanisms, baseline projects in RAM, and performance metrics. Schedule B of this docket will address issues concerning the RAM, particularly related to the incentives that the RAM provides or fails to provide, the fair allocation of risk, and ways to increase the efficiency of ratemaking. Synapse is taking a lead role in reviewing and commenting on the development of HECO’s performance metrics associated with Schedule A, and is leading the development of the Consumer Advocate’s statements of position regarding performance incentives in Schedule B, including analysis of how such incentives might interact with the decoupling mechanism.
Synapse is providing technical and expert witness services to the California Office of Ratepayer Advocates in connection with the Long Term Procurement Plan proceeding affecting the three largest investor-owned utilities in California: Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric, and San Diego Gas and Electric. As part of this project, Synapse conducted modeling of the California ISO (CAISO) area using PLEXOS to assess loads and emissions throughout California based on various California Public Utilities Commission scenarios. Synapse analyzed model inputs, assumptions, forecast projections, and outputs, and examined alternatives including renewable energy integration and retirement scenarios. Synapse’s modeling enabled determination of areas within California that would be capacity constrained.
Reply Testimony of Bob Fagan and Patrick Luckow in Order Instituting Rulemaking to Integrate and Refine Procurement Policies and Consider Long-Term Procurement Plans
Reply Testimony of Bob Fagan and Tommy Vitolo in Order Instituting Rulemaking to Integrate and Refine Procurement Policies and Consider Long-Term Procurement Plans
Synapse is providing technical support and expert testimony to the Conservation Law Foundation regarding a series of Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities natural gas pipeline dockets. In these dockets, electric distribution companies have petitioned to embed the costs of natural gas transmission pipelines in customer electric bills. In the most recent dockets (MA 15-181 and MA 16-05), Eversource and National Grid submitted separate analyses on the long-term economic benefits of Algonquin’s proposed Access Northeast natural gas pipeline infrastructure project. Synapse assessed the methodology and assumptions of the benefits in the analyses submitted by Eversource and National Grid. Specifically, Synapse reviewed the results of scenarios modeling New England’s future electric sector with and without the Access Northeast pipeline to determine whether the modeling assumptions (1) were consistent with compliance with state and federal environmental laws and (2) represented “most likely” projections of uncertain future conditions. Dr. Elizabeth A. Stanton submitted expert testimony in both dockets.
Direct Testimony of Elizabeth A. Stanton Regarding the National Grid Analysis of Economic Benefits of Proposed Access Northeast Gas Pipeline
Synapse is providing technical assistance and expert testimony to on behalf of Conservation Law Foundation regarding the grid modernization plans of Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil in Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities dockets 15-120, 15-121, and 15-122. Synapse is reviewing the methodologies and assumptions used by the companies in their plans. Synapse is also assessing the extent to which the proposed plans meet the Department’s objectives for grid modernization, with particular focus on the plans’ incorporation of distributed energy resources as a key contributor to grid modernization.
Synapse provided expert support to the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) in its New Source Review (NSR) suit over modifications made to Merrimack Station Unit 2 in New Hampshire.
South Carolina Electric and Gas Company (SCE&G) filed a petition (Docket No. 2016-224-E) requesting that the Public Service Commission of South Carolina approve an approximately $852 million increase in the cost estimate for the construction of two new units at the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant. SCE&G has repeatedly raised rates to recover financing costs of the plant, resulting in a substantial impact on customer bills. South Carolina Coastal Conservation League (SCCCL) retained Synapse to analyze the opportunity for energy efficiency programs to mitigate the bill increases associated with SCE&G’s petition. On behalf of SCCCL, Senior Associate Alice Napoleon submitted testimony and an accompanying report in which she reviewed SCE&G’s energy efficiency efforts to date and presented recommendations for expanding SCE&G’s energy efficiency programs in order to provide all customers with opportunities to lower their bills.
Direct Testimony of Alice Napoleon regarding South Carolina Electric and Gas Energy Efficiency Efforts
Synapse is assisting the Michigan Public Service Commission in the development of a strategy to comply with EPA’s Clean Power Plan. To support the state planning process and evaluate compliance options, Synapse has built a detailed representation of the regional electrical system in System Optimizer, a utility-scale capacity expansion model. The model optimizes specific electric generating unit build and retire decisions, cost-effective energy efficiency, unit retrofit decisions, emissions trading programs, and emissions targets through 2034. Synapse developed Michigan-specific inputs to the model in collaboration with staff of the Public Service Commission, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the Michigan Agency for Energy. Synapse will use the model to test compliance plans developed by the joint agencies and stakeholders, including Michigan utilities, consumer, industry, and environmental groups.
Synapse is working for the National Efficiency Screening Project (NESP) to develop a National Standard Practice Manual (NSPM). The purpose of the NSPM is to improve the way that utility customer-funded electricity and natural gas energy efficiency resources are evaluated for cost-effectiveness throughout the United States and to inform decision-makers regarding which efficiency resources are in the public interest and what level of investment is appropriate. The NSPM updates and expands upon the California Standard Practice Manual and will provide the principles, concepts, and techniques for sound, unbiased evaluation of energy efficiency and other demand side resources. Synapse's primary role is as the lead technical consultant and is responsible for the overall drafting of the manual, managing the Drafting Committee of five experts, and incorporating input from the Review Committee.
Since 2005, Synapse has provided monitoring and representation services for clients in NEPOOL’s Alternative Resources (AR) sector, which is comprised of providers of energy efficiency, renewable, distributed generation, and demand response resources. Our clients in the AR sector have included Conservation Services Group, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, EnerNOC, and Innovative Energy Systems.
Executive Summary Only: Incorporating Energy Efficiency into the ISO New England Forward Capacity Market
NEPOOL’s governance structure allows non-profits and other customer representatives to become voting members. Since 2001, Synapse has provided representation and voting services to non-profit and consumer interest clients. Our clients have included PowerOptions, The Energy Consortium, Harvard, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and MASSPIRG.
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