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Client:
Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board
Year:
2018, 2017

Review of the 2017 Nova Scotia Load Forecast.

Related Publication(s)
Evidence re the NSPI 2017 Load Forecast
Comments on NSPI Reply Evidence
Client:
Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board
Year:
Ongoing, 2017, 2016

On behalf of Counsel to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB), Synapse assessed Nova Scotia Power's (NSPI) advanced metering infrastructure pilot proposal. NSPI requested approval to deploy advanced (“smart”) meters to up to 1,000 customers at a cost of $8.2 million. Ms. Alice Napoleon identified multiple issues with the proposal, including, among other things, that the pilot period would neither provide sufficient time for data collection nor cover the period of highest system demand; that the pilot’s size was not adequately justified; that complementary programs to help customers experience the benefits from implementation of AMI were omitted; and that the proposed network for the pilot is not consistent with the network that may be required for full implementation. Ms. Napoleon concluded that the design of the proposed pilot would not provide a solid basis for determining whether the costs and benefits associated with AMI justify a full roll out. Ms. Napoleon recommended that NSUARB not approve the current pilot application based on the current record of evidence.

Related Publication(s)
Testimony of Alice Napoleon on NSPI Advanced Meter Infrastructure Pilot
Client:
Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board
Year:
2017

In early 2017, Alice Napoleon testified on behalf of the NS UARB regarding NSPI's proposal to implement AMI in its service area. To address deficiencies identified by Ms. Napoleon and others, NSPI withdrew its initial AMI application and stated its intention to submit an amended filing. The revised filing by NSPI is expected in Oct. 2017.

Related Publication(s)
Evidence of Alice Napoleon Regarding NS Power AMI Pilot
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2017

Synapse submitted formal comments to the Department of Energy regarding its use of the Federal Power Act to allow continued operation of the Yorktown coal units in Virginia. Dr. Ariel Horowitz drafted the comments, which focused on the lack of a sound alternatives analysis, the imprudence of relying on elderly and inefficient coal units for reliability purposes, and the need for a near-term plan to retire the units.

Related Publication(s)
Comments of Ariel Horowitz on Yorktown Alternatives
Client:
Utah Clean Energy
Year:
2017

Utah Clean Energy engaged Synapse to review Pacificorp’s proposal before the Utah Public Service Commission to alter its net metering compensation mechanism for residential customers with distributed generation. Melissa Whited submitted testimony to the Commission critiquing multiple aspects of the Company’s proposed distributed generation rate design. Synapse’s analysis of the bill impacts showed that the Company’s proposed changes would have a substantial negative impact on the adoption of residential solar. The proposed distributed generation tariff would essentially eliminate the economic advantage to residential customers of installing distributed generation. Further, the Company’s plan to move these net-metered customers into a separate rate class would increase costs to non-net metered customers. Whited also testified that demand charges are not appropriate for residential customers. Tim Woolf submitted testimony addressing the Company’s flawed cost-benefit analysis. Based on Synapse’s finding that the benefits of the Company’s existing net metering program surpass the costs, Mr. Woolf recommended that the Commission not approve the proposed changes.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Melissa Whited Regarding Pacificorp Net Metering
Direct Testimony of Tim Woolf Regarding Pacificorp Net Metering
Rebuttal Testimony of Tim Woolf Regarding Pacificorp Net Metering
Client:
Lawrence Berkeley Labs
Year:
2017, 2016, 2015

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) has prepared a series of technical reports on Future Electric Utility Regulation, which examine issues related to incremental and fundamental changes to electric industry regulation in a future with high distributed energy resource (DER) levels. Synapse provided research and analysis to support LBNL in producing a technical report on performance-based regulation in a high DER future. The report: summarizes the full suite of mechanisms used in various types of PBR; compares ratemaking and regulation of utilities under cost of service versus PBR paradigms; explains how to incorporate performance-based metrics focused on DER; presents key subtopics from the perspective of both the electric utility and the customer/broader public interest; describes a taxonomy of issues to consider in determining whether to implement some elements of PBR or comprehensive PBR; and describes criteria state utility commissions can consider to evaluate whether to adopt some form of PBR in the context of a high DER future. 

Related Publication(s)
Performance-Based Regulation in a High Distributed Energy Resources Future
Performance-Based Regulation in a High Distributed Energy Resources Future (webinar slides)
Client:
NA
Year:
2017

Kenji Takahashi presented on "Rhode Island Renewable Thermal Market Strategy -- An Analysis of Energy, Environmental, Economic, Energy Bill, and Local Job Impacts of an Alternative Renewable Thermal Energy Future for Rhode Island" at 2017 Energy Efficiency in Domestic Appliances and Lighting Conference.

Paper Abstract

The thermal energy sector is a major consumer of energy for space heating and domestic hot water in Rhode Island. Relying primarily on fossil fuels, the thermal sector accounts for approximately one third of Rhode Island’s total energy consumption and carbon emissions. By diversifying the thermal energy sector to increase use of low-carbon renewable heating and cooling technologies (e.g., air  source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, wood pellet heating, solar thermal), Rhode Island can make significant strides toward achieving GHG emission reduction goals and reap substantial  economic benefits in the process.

Thus far, virtually all clean energy policies and programs in the state have focused on electric sector technologies and natural gas efficiency. Consequently, Rhode Island’s renewable thermal industry has historically been relatively small and slow-growing.

To address barriers facing the renewable thermal industry and promote renewable thermal technologies, Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) tasked the authors with analyzing policies and programs designed to grow the industry and conducting a detailed market model of alternative thermal sector energy futures. In one of the alternative scenarios, Rhode Island achieves 5 percent  renewable thermal energy penetration by 2035. This paper presents the results and methodologies for analyzing this scenario, including the cost-effectiveness, energy rate and bill impacts, local job impacts, and emission impacts of the alternative future. This study broke new ground by applying standard analysis methodologies and approaches used for energy efficiency measures (e.g., cost-effectiveness tests, rate and bill impacts,  job impacts) to renewable thermal technologies.

Related Publication(s)
Rhode Island Renewable Thermal Market Strategy (EEDAL Presentation Slides)
Rhode Island Renewable Thermal Market Strategy (EEDAL Paper)
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
Ongoing, 2017

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) has requested approval to increase its fixed access charges for residential customers (from $10 to $20) and small commercial customers (from $28 to $37). Sierra Club retained Synapse to develop testimony that establishes how these increases in fixed charges are inconsistent with fundamental ratemaking principles. In testimony before the Virginia State Corporation Commission, Melissa Whited addressed how the increases would provide inefficient prices signals, reduce customer equity, and reduce incentives for investments in distributed energy resources. Ms. Whited also recommended alternative methods REC could employ to address concerns about revenue sufficiency.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Melissa Whited on REC Fixed Charges
Client:
Natural Resources Defense Council
Year:
Ongoing, 2017

California’s ambitious state law SB 350 aims to increase renewable energy generation and achieve “widespread transportation electrification” across the state. Pursuant to this law, California’s largest investor-owned utilities are proposing to make over $1 billion in transportation electrification investments. These investments are accompanied by new rate designs to support adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and encourage charging in a manner that is consistent with electrical grid conditions. Synapse was retained by NRDC to evaluate the utilities’ rate design proposals for public fast-charging facilities, commercial fleets, and residential customers. 

Related Publication(s)
Electric Vehicles Still Not Crashing the Grid
Testimony of Melissa Whited on Commercial EV Rates
Testimony of Melissa Whited on Fast Charging Infrastructure and Rates
Testimony of Melissa Whited on Residential Rates
Rebuttal Testimony of Melissa Whited on EV Rate Design
Electric Vehicles are Not Crashing the Grid
Client:
Maryland Public Service Commission
Year:
2017, 2016

Synapse analyzed the implications of higher fixed charges, time-of-use rates, and minimum bills on customers of Maryland's electric cooperatives. The study focused on the ways that these rate designs would impact low-income customers, low-usage customers, net metering customers, and the ability for Maryland to achieve its energy efficiency goals.  This analysis was in response to Maryland Senate Bill 1131, which would have required the Maryland Public Service Commission to approve increases to electric cooperative customers' fixed monthly charges. 

Related Publication(s)
Rate Design Impacts for Customers of Maryland Electric Cooperatives
Client:
Meister Consultants Group, New York State Research and Development Authority
Year:
2017, 2016

In support of New York State’s nation-leading GHG emissions reduction goals—targeting 40 percent reduction of GHG emissions by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050—the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has begun a process of developing an integrated policy framework to address emissions from the heating and cooling sector. Synapse joined a group of consultants led by Meister Consultants to assist NYSERDA with this effort. More specifically, Synapse assisted NYSERDA and Meister with developing (a) a comprehensive database of costs and performance of Renewable Heating and Cooling (RH&C) technologies such as air-source heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps, solar hot water, and heat pump water heaters; (b) an Excel-based tool to analyze costs and benefits of RH&C technologies; and (c) a state RH&C Policy Framework report. As part of our effort to develop RH&C technology profiles, Synapse also participated in a stakeholder meeting by the Advisory Committee of industry stakeholders and experts and facilitated a working group on air-source heat pumps. 

Related Publication(s)
Renewable Heating and Cooling Policy Framework
Client:
Energy Outreach Colorado
Year:
2017, 2016

In 2016, Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo) filed a request for rate design modifications, including a tiered monthly “Grid Use Charge” for all residential customers and a voluntary residential demand – time-of-use rate. The Company’s stated intent for the proposed Grid Use Charge was to act as an interim step before the implementation of a demand charge. On behalf of Energy Outreach Colorado, Synapse conducted an analysis of PSCo’s proposal and Tim Woolf provided expert testimony before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Synapse’s testimony challenged the Company’s proposal to move residential customers toward demand charges because such charges are inconsistent with fundamental rate design principles, create inefficient price signals, are complex and difficult for residential customers to respond to, place undue burden on low-usage and low-income customers, and may ultimately increase long-term electricity costs. Project ongoing.

Related Publication(s)
Answer Testimony of Tim Woolf Regarding Public Service Company of Colorado Residential Demand Charges Proposal
Client:
New Brunswick Electric Utility Board
Year:
2018, 2017

Synapse reviewed New Brunswick Power's 2018/2019 General Rate Case application on behalf of the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board Staff.

Related Publication(s)
Review of New Brunswick Power 2018-2019 Rate Case Application
Client:
Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources
Year:
2017, 2016, 2015

The thermal energy sector, which relies primarily on fossil fuels, accounts for approximately one third of Rhode Island’s total energy consumption and total carbon emissions. By diversifying the thermal energy sector to increase use of low-carbon renewable heating and cooling technologies (e.g., air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, wood pellet heating, solar thermal), Rhode Island can make significant strides toward achieving greenhouse gas emission reduction goals while producing substantial economic benefits for the state. To meet these objectives, the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources tasked Synapse and Meister Consultants Group with (a) analyzing policies and programs designed to grow the renewable thermal industry and (b) conducting a detailed market model of an alternative thermal sector energy future. This market model analyzed the cost-effectiveness, energy rate and bill impacts, local job impacts, and emission impacts of an alternative future in which Rhode Island achieves five percent renewable energy penetration by 2035.

Kenji Takahashi presented on "Rhode Island Renewable Thermal Market Strategy -- An Analysis of Energy, Environmental, Economic, Energy Bill, and Local Job Impacts of an Alternative Renewable Thermal Energy Future for Rhode Island" at 2017 Energy Efficiency in Domestic Appliances and Lighting Conference. 

View Takahashi's EEDAL conference paper here and his presentation slides here

Related Publication(s)
Rhode Island Renewable Thermal Market Development Strategy
Client:
New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel
Year:
2017, 2016

Synapse assisted the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel in evaluating Rockland Electric Company’s (RECO) proposal for investments in advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). The company’s proposal seeks pre-approval to install approximately 73,880 advanced meters across its entire New Jersey service territory. RECO’s petition in a previous docket, which Synapse also evaluated, proposed AMI deployment for only a subset of customers. Tim Woolf submitted initial direct testimony to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities arguing against pre-approval of AMI investments. 

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Tim Woolf Regarding RECO Petition for AMI Pre-Approval
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2017

Sierra Club retained Synapse to conduct an economic analysis of the J.K. Spruce coal plant, located near San Antonio, Texas. Synapse evaluated the recent economic performance of the plant, the likely performance of the plant over the next two decades, and the availability of cost-effective renewable alternatives to Spruce. Synapse found that the Spruce plant has likely lost more than $100 million relative to the market since 2015, is likely to lose another $100 million from 2017 to 2019, and will only become profitable over the long term if a series of favorable conditions hold. Synapse concluded that Spruce Unit 1 would be unlikely to recover the costs of a proposed new selective catalytic reduction (SCR) pollution control system, and that replacing Spruce with renewables would reduce emissions more comprehensively and cost-effectively than retrofitting Spruce with SCR.

Related Publication(s)
The Shaky Economics of the JK Spruce Power Plant
Client:
Southern Environmental Law Center
Year:
Ongoing, 2017

2017 annual update of South Carolina Electric & Gas' (SCE&G) avoided costs, to be used in both PURPA QF rates and for Act 236 compliance. Witness Thomas Vitolo, PhD, submitted testimony (Docket No. 2017-2-E).

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Thomas Vitolo regarding Base Rates for Fuel Costs for SCEG
Client:
Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships
Year:
2017

On behalf of the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, Synapse and Meister Consultants Group identified the opportunity, costs, and benefits available if strategic electrification is adopted as a key strategy for decarbonization in New York and New England. Dr. Hopkins, Kenji Takahashi, and Pat Knight are primary authors of the resulting report, Northeastern Regional Assessment of Strategic Electrification (July 2017), which characterizes the current markets for efficiency electrification technologies (such as heat pumps and electric vehicles), identifies policies to overcome market barriers, assesses the state of electrification technologies, and models the extent of electrification both possible given market dynamics and required to meet regional greenhouse gas emission goals. 

Related Publication(s)
Northeastern Regional Assessment of Strategic Electrification
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2017

Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) filed a rate case with the Public Utilities Commission of Texas seeking rate recovery of emission control investments at its Dolet Hills, Flint Creek, Pirkey, and Welsh coal plants. SWEPCO also requested approval of changes to its rate design for net metering customers. Synapse assisted Sierra Club by conducting an economic analysis of (1) the modeling SWEPCO used to justify its emission control investments and (2) the rate and bill impacts of its proposed rate design change. Rachel Wilson filed testimony on behalf of Sierra Club addressing SWEPCO’s economic justification for the retrofits. Melissa Whited filed rebuttal testimony regarding SWEPCO’s proposed Distributed Renewable Generation tariff. 

 

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Rachel Wilson Regarding SWEPCO Rate Recovery Application
Cross-Rebuttal Testimony of Rachel Wilson Regarding SWEPCO Rate Recovery Application
Cross-Rebuttal Testimony of Melissa Whited Regarding SWEPCO Rate Recovery Application
Client:
Natural Resources Defense Council
Year:
Ongoing, 2017, 2016

Synapse provided technical and policy support for several aspects related to the NY REV Initiative. This included drafting detailed comments and reply comments on the New York Utilities' proposed Distribution System Implementation Plans, with an emphasis on ensuring that distributed energy resources are properly planned for and implemented. It also included a detailed review of NY energy efficiency activities and recommendations for how to promote the implementation of all cost-effective energy efficiency resources as part of the NY REV initiatives. This work also included technical support for estimates of avoided distribution costs at constrained locations on the grid; i.e., the "value of D."

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Tim Woolf on CHGE Proposed EE EAM
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2017, 2016

A study of the relative costs of operating each of the four Dallman Units. 

Related Publication(s)
The Mounting Losses at CWLP Dallman Station
Client:
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Year:
Ongoing, 2018, 2017

Providing technical support regarding TVA's proposed time-varying rates.

Related Publication(s)
Electricity Prices in the Tennessee Valley
Client:
Year:
2016

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals brought the Clean Power Plan back into the spotlight in May 2016, making the unusual move to hear the pending case in front of the entire nine-judge circuit. Synapse has highlighted the potential benefits of implementing the Clean Power Plan since its release last summer. During a webinar on May 26, 2016m Synapse Senior Associate Sarah Jackson and Kate Konschnik of Harvard Law School’s Environmental Policy Initiative discussed the outlook for the Clean Power Plan, including why planning continues for a low-carbon future and what some states and utilities have been up to since the Clean Power Plan was put on hold by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

Related Publication(s)
Fresh Outlook on the Clean Power Plan (Webinar Slides)
Client:
Year:
2016

Jenn Kallay presented a Synapse paper entitled Opportunities to Ramp up Low-Income Energy Efficiency to Meet Climate Plan Goals at the 2016 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings conference. She discussed key findings and opportunities from the compilation of a dataset on low-income energy efficiency efforts in the United States.

Related Publication(s)
Opportunities to Ramp Up Low-Income Energy Efficiency to Meet State and National Climate Policy Goals
Opportunities to Ramp Up Low-Income Energy Efficiency to Meet Climate Policy Goals (slide deck)
Client:
New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel
Year:
2016

Since 2005, Synapse has provided analysis of New Jersey's Basic Generation Service (BGS) procurement options for the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel. The BGS procurement process includes annual auctions held by the State of New Jersey for the procurement of fixed-price, basic electric generation service (BGS-FP). BGS-FP service is the name of the rate plan for those residential and small commercial customers who choose not to use a competitive supplier for their electricity needs. Synapse's BGS procurement analysis takes into consideration the BGS auction process and other factors relevant to procurement options for NJ BGS customers. Synapse's analyses include assessment of procurement options in other states; futures markets for electricity, natural gas, and coal; recent auction/RFP results for BGS-FP-equivalent services from other states; PJM technical issues affecting BGS procurement considerations; and other relevant issues. Synapse’s analysis of the 2016 BGS Auction examined the price divergence observed between the PSE&G service territory and the other electric distribution companies. Synapse found that higher prices for the PSE&G territory are related to significantly high transmission charges compared to other New Jersey Electric Distribution Company utilities. 

Related Publication(s)
2016 BGS Auction Review
Client:
Maryland Climate Coalition
Year:
2016

Synapse analyzed various options for an enhanced Renewable Portfolio Standard for Maryland, on behalf of the Maryland Climate Coalition. Using a Synapse-adapted version of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS), we modeled three alternative options through the year 2030 to determine how Maryland could meet an expanded policy cost-effectively. The modeling found that the economic conditions surrounding wind and solar installations would allow the state to meet an expanded RPS in all scenarios analyzed. In addition, analysis showed that the emitting renewable resources currently included in the RPS—such as combustion of industrial by-products—had little impact on meeting RPS policies and were also only minimally affected by the policies themselves.

Related Publication(s)
Meeting Marylands RPS
Enhancing Marylands RPS - Factsheet
Client:
Conservation Law Foundation
Year:
2016

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. 

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Robert Fagan Regarding Petition of Exelon to Build Medway Power Station
Client:
New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel
Year:
2016, 2015

Synapse provided expert technical consulting services to the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel related to the Southern Company and AGL Resources petition seeking approval of the acquisition of AGL Resources by Southern Company. Synapse filed testimony addressing issues related to competition and market power.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Max Chang Regarding Merger of Southern Company and AGL Resources
Client:
Energy Foundation
Year:
2016, 2015

Synapse modeled various Clean Power Plan compliance options to determine how big an impact strong energy efficiency policies can have on the achievability and affordability of complying with EPA’s rule. Using the Synapse Clean Power Plan Toolkit, a collection of purpose-built in-house tools and commercial models, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) model, Synapse examined the comparative cost of state implementation plans that maximize available energy efficiency strategies versus a future in which states are not Clean Power Plan‐compliant. Synapse modeled and found savings for each of the 48 continental U.S. states. 

The results, updated in the factsheet and accompanying report below, show that if states comply using strategies that encourage cost‐effective energy efficiency, households can save on electricity bills.

Synapse held a series of public webinars on this topic:

 

  • Bill Impacts of the Clean Power Plan - January 14, 2016 | 2 PM EST | View presentation here
  • Bill Impacts of the Clean Power Plan (Repeated) - January 19, 2016 | 2 PM EST 

Related Publication(s)
Cutting Electric Bills with the Clean Power Plan (Slide Presentation)
Stopping the Clean Power Plan Raises Bills
Cutting Electric Bills with the Clean Power Plan Updated
The Clean Power Plan: Green and Affordable (factsheet)
Cutting Electric Bills with the Clean Power Plan
Cutting Electric Bills with the Clean Power Plan - January 15 Errata
Bill Impacts and the Clean Power Plan (webinar slides)
Client:
Food & Water Watch
Year:
Ongoing, 2018, 2017, 2016

The Los Angeles City Council has mandated that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the largest municipally-run utility in the United States, analyze powering 100 percent of demand with renewable energy. To date, LADWP's efforts have been insufficient, as the utility has only published an analysis of a slight increase over current renewable energy targets and is not planning to finalize their 100 percent renewable study until 2020 at the earliest. 

Food & Water Watch engaged Synapse to analyze a potential pathway to 100 percent clean energy in Los Angeles by 2030. In our study, we found that it is possible for LADWP to exclusively use renewable resources to power its system in every hour of the year. What's more, we found that under one of the clean energy pathways analyzed, the transition to 100 percent renewable energy in every hour of the year can occur at no net cost to the system. The resulting report, Clean Energy for Los Angeles, provides a roadmap for how to achieve 100 percent renewables by integrating and harnessing renewable energy more efficiently and investing in additional efficiency, storage, and demand response.

Although the report only focuses on a single city, the results are important and applicable to many other parts of the country. Los Angeles's 4 million residents make the city larger than 22 entire states, while the annual energy served by LADWP is greater than sales in 13 individual states, indicating that if this transition is possible in Los Angeles, it is feasible in other parts of the country as well. 

Related Publication(s)
Clean Energy for Los Angeles

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