Synapse provided testimony in an on-going retail choice proceeding involving an Entergy subsidiary in East Texas (Entergy Gulf States). Synapse assisted the Texas Office of People’s Counse in evaluating Entergy’s proposal for an “independent” subsidiary to oversee the transition to a retail open access structure authorized by the Texas legislature. Synapse compared the proposed “independent” Entergy subsidiary to the standards and criteria that FERC applies to applications for Independent System Operators (ISOs) and Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) and provided testimony before the Texas PUC. Project completed in May 2004.
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Testimony of Bruce Biewald Reviewing Entergy Gulf State Petition for Certification of Independent Organization
Synapse was hired by NESCAUM to help review the modeling performed for the Connecticut Climate Change Stakeholder Dialogue in 2003. This modeling work assessed the impacts of a number of different policies focused on reducing carbon emissions. NESCAUM and Synapse developed summaries of this modeling work for use in discussions with Connecticut lawmakers and regulators. Project completed in December 2004.
Synapse evaluated the Public Service of Indiana's current and proposed energy efficiency programs. William Steinhurst prepared testimony critiquing these programs and recommended the establishment of a clear mandate to implement cost effective efficiency programs, a system benefit charge, and an independent third party DSM administrator. The results of this evaluation were presented in testimony before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Project completed in October 2004.
Synapse was hired by the Public Interest Research Groups to review drafts of state greenhouse gas reduction reports. The reports explored the brief history and context of greenhouse gas reduction efforts in selected states and performed calculations to estimate emission reductions from a suite of policies. In January and February 2004, Synapse edited the text of the Massachusetts and Connecticut reports and reviewed the spreadsheets containing these calculations. Synapse also met with PIRG staff to discuss methodological and editorial issues and provided technical support during the drafting of these reports. Synapse’s work on the Massachusetts and Connecticut reports was completed in February 2004.
Synapse reviewed the avoided costs used by the four electric utilities in Minnesota for their Conservation Improvement Programs. The analysis included a description of "best practices" for estimating avoided costs, a review of each utility's methodology and assumptions, a comparison of avoided cost results across all four utilities, and a set of recommendations for future avoided cost estimates. Synapse reviewed avoided energy, avoided generation capacity, avoided transmission, and avoided distribution costs. Synapse further reviewed the methodology used to estimate avoided gas demand costs. Project completed in December 2004.
Synapse reviewed the reasonableness of National Grid’s settlement of litigation over Northeast Utilities’ mismanagement of the Millstone Unit 3 nuclear power plant. Project completed in August 2004.
Synapse evaluated the policy basis for natural gas energy efficiency programs for the Vectren North service territory in Indiana. William Steinhurst prepared testimony critiquing the Company's lack of programs and recommended establishing a clear mandate for implementing cost effective efficiency programs, a system benefit charge, and an independent third party DSM administrator. Project completed in November 2004.
How to Deliver the Efficiency Goods: Why an Independent Third Party Works Best and How to Make Sure It Works Well
Synapse reviewed what length of Northeast Utilities' proposed Middletown-Norwalk 345-kV transmission line can be built underground without adversely affecting electric system reliability. Synapse worked with surrounding towns to identify alternative overhead routes for the proposed transmission line that would have less of an impact on the towns and their residents living near the proposed right-of-way. Project completed in July 2004.
Synapse investigated whether the two Wisconsin utilities that currently own the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant would receive the unit’s fair market value as part of the proposed sale to a subsidiary of Dominion Resources, Inc. Synapse also examined the regulatory consequences of selling the power plant to a subsidiary of an out-of-state multi-tiered holding company. Project completed in June 2004.
Synapse provided an analysis in October 2004 of the potential impact of the retirement of the Salem Harbor generating units on both North Shore and Greater Boston reliability through 2020. Synapse's analysis expanded upon the 2004 Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP) prepared by ISO New England. Synapse’s examination changed certain assumptions about when specific units in the region might retire and included the benefits of new transmission projects scheduled for completion in 2006 and 2008. Synapse provided this analysis to the Conservation Law Foundation for use in its settlement discussions regarding upgrades to the Salem Harbor units to reduce environmental impacts pursuant to a FERC Order. Project completed in August 2004.
Synapse reviewed the stranded cost true-up filing made by CenterPoint and Reliant Energy, requesting recovery of several billion dollars of stranded costs. Issues addressed in the testimony of Synapse’s Neil Talbot and Bruce Biewald before the Public Utility Commission of Texas included whether a “control premium” is justified, what an appropriate capital structure would be for the GenCo, the cost of environmental controls, the treatment of “excess mitigation credits,” and construction work in progress. Project completed in July 2004.
Errata to Direct Testimony of Bruce Biewald Reviewing Stranded Cost True-Up Filing in Texas
Cross Rebuttal Testimony of Bruce Biewald Reviewing Stranded Cost True-Up Filing in Texas
In the second half of 2004, the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships undertook a comprehensive review of its energy efficiency initiatives, with the goal of modifying its suite of initiatives to reflect developments in the efficiency product markets, as well as the evolving interests of its Initiative Sponsors. Synapse conducted a qualitative assessment of the existing residential initiatives, as well as several new and enhanced initiatives. The review included interviews with several key players in the relevant efficiency markets, assessed the potential for regional strategies, assessed the potential role for NEEP, and ranked initiatives according to several evaluation criteria. The results were presented in a paper entitled, "NEEP Strategic Initiative Review: Qualitative Assessment and Initiative Ranking for the Residential Sector." Project completed in October 2004.
Synapse analyzed the Cincinnati Gas and Electric Company’s proposed “Market Based Standard Service Offer” and “Competitive Bid Process.” Synapse concluded that the MBSSO was not reasonable and subsequently proposed an alternative approach for pricing electricity for default customers. The analysis and recommendations were presented in the testimony of Neil Talbot before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Project completed in May 2004.
Bruce Biewald presented “The Shape of Things to Come: Incorporating Unproven Reserves of Efficiency Savings into Energy Models” to the East Coast Energy Group in Washington, DC on November 10, 2004.
Synapse examined whether the Arizona Public Service Company should be allowed to include in rate base the cost of five new generating units that were originally built for the Company’s deregulated affiliate. Project completed in February 2004.
Synapse performed a project feasibility study for a U.S. wind developer, focusing on probable project economics and the need for this project. The economic analysis focused on projected project costs and revenues given likely electricity market prices in the relevant region and the likely prices of renewable energy credits. The need analysis focused on regional emissions trends, new air regulations, and future demand for renewable energy created by renewable portfolio standards. Project completed in September 2004.
Synapse developed an Excel workbook tool to estimate CO2 reductions from electricity measures in Municipal Climate Change Action Plans. Users have the flexibility to choose among standard emission reduction options or to add their own options. The tool also allows users to input demographic and other data specific to their municipality, but offers default data for those cases where specific data is unavailable. This tool was applied to the town of Arlington’s Sustainability Action Plan, and is being expanded to cover additional sectors. Project completed in January 2004.
Synapse investigated the sources of air pollution in Queens County, assessed their local impact on air quality, and recommended remedies for the sources causing the greatest threat to public health. The study included evaluations of energy efficiency resources, unit repowering, emissions control technologies, and other options for improving air quality. The PROSYM model was used to develop a cohesive clean air plan for the county. Project completed in May 2003.
Air Quality In Queens County: Opportunities for Cleaning Up the Air in Queens County and Neighboring Regions
Synapse developed a clean electricity plan for the Hudson River Valley. While the plan explored options for reducing electricity use and adding new renewable generation throughout the Valley, it focused on reducing the environmental impacts of four, older power plants on the lower Hudson River: Bowline, Lovett, Danskammer and Roseton. As part of the work, Synapse modeled the future operation of these plants in a "business-as-usual" scenario, prioritized action in terms of the plants' environmental impacts and assessed a variety of options for reducing the water and air impacts from the plants.
Synapse prepared an affidavit discussing the decision to burn only oil (and not natural gas) at the proposed Jamaica Bay Peaking Facility. The affidavit also explained that the proposed peaking power plant would share numerous components with an existing gas-fired unit on the same site. Project completed in March 2003.
Synapse conducted an analysis of electricity price trends in the ComEd service territory with and without a proposed merger and legislated rate increase. Synapse also applied the REMI model to estimate the employment and other economic impacts associated with the rate increase. Project completed in December 2003.
Fewer Jobs for Illinois: Employment and Other Impacts of Commonwealth Edison’s Proposed Electricity Rate Increase
Synapse reviewed the recent electricity consumption and billing history of all the Audubon facilities located in Massachusetts. Synapse compared the default and standard offer prices available from the local electric company with competitive electric power options, and advised Audubon how to purchase their electricity. Project completed in October 2003.
Synapse reviewed the proposals for a credit-based system for the PJM Generation Attribute Tracking System (GATS), in order to comply with environmental disclosure rules and other environmental policies. Synapse also assisted the OPC with comments provided to the Maryland Public Utilities Commission and presented oral testimony at Commission hearings. Project completed in December 2003.
Synapse evaluated whether Rockland Electric Company’s power purchases during the period from August 1999 through July 2003 were prudent. Synapse prepared an audit report concluding that the Company was imprudent for failing to enter into a multi-year power purchase agreement when it divested all of its generating facilities in 1999. Project completed in July 2003.
Following the August 14, 2003 blackout that affected approximately 50 million customers of the interconnected Eastern North America grid, Synapse produced a memo that detailed what happened, what caused the blackout, and improvements that could be made to prevent future region-wide outages.
Synapse reviewed the modeling of various climate policies for ten northeast states. The policies included renewable portfolio standards and carbon emissions cap-and-trade. Project completed in December 2003.
Synapse prepared an estimate of the likely impact of a proposed renewable portfolio standard on electricity rates in Vermont. The analysis was based on a detailed “supply curve” of potential new renewable resources in the New England region, as well as potential imports from Canada and New York. The analysis considered two different renewable standards, one where renewables were broadly defined (including small hydro projects and all biomass), and one where renewables were limited to those eligible in the Massachusetts and Connecticut renewable portfolio standards. The report was presented to the Board and used to inform the Vermont RPS Collaborative discussions. Project completed in October 2003.
Paul Peterson presented “Default Service Considerations for Competitive Markets” at the New England Conference of Public Utility Commissioners Symposium in Providence, Rhode Island on June 9, 2003.
Synapse analyzed the value that renewable resources offer when acting as a hedge against volatile fossil-fuel prices. The analysis focused on the risk of fossil-fuel prices increasing over time in response to future environmental regulations. Synapse prepared a summary of recent activities to regulate or otherwise control CO2 emissions, and developed a quantitative estimate of the hedge value of emission-free renewables. The results were presented in the testimony of Tim Woolf before the California Public Utilities Commission, Docket No. 01-10-024. Project completed in April 2003.
Synapse worked with UCS to encourage the development of effective load response programs in New England and to ensure that such programs were consistent with the long term goal of environmental quality. This project identified options for “clean” load response, determined how to incorporate these options in load response programs, and worked through stakeholder and regulatory processes to develop effective load response programs. In addition, Synapse participated in regional coordination efforts on load response with Pace Energy Center and Project for Sustainable FERC Energy Policy. Project completed in December 2003.
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