Synapse provided direct testimonies before the Vermont Public Service Board regarding the economics of the Hydro-Québec purchase by Central Vermont Public Service Company and Green Mountain Power Company (GMP). Synapse’s analysis found that the purchase represented excess capacity in both cases and recommended that these excess costs be shared between ratepayers and stockholders. In the GMP case, the Board found in favor of Synapse’s used-and-useful recommendation, and required a sharing of the above-market costs of the purchase. Testimonies filed in February 1998 and September 1998.
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Synapse analyzed the economic distortions to electricity markets by grandfathering older power plants under the Clean Air Act. The study estimated that grandfathering allowed existing coal plants to avoid paying roughly $9 billion per year in control costs that are now required of new plants. Requiring all US coal plants to meet environmental standards comparable to those that apply to new power plants would reduce SO2 and NOx emissions by roughly 75 percent, but would not result in the retirement of many existing coal units. The study also analyzed policies to make air emissions regulations comparable for new and existing plants. Report dated June 1998.
Synapse Energy Economics evaluated the market power implications of the proposed merger of Allegheny Power System and Duquesne Light Company. The results were presented in the testimony of Bruce Biewald before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Docket No. EC97-46-000. Testimony filed in June 1998.
Synapse conducted a study requested by the Legislature to "examine how a competitive electric industry may be structured or regulated to protect electric power trade and commerce from unlawful restraints, price discrimination, price fixing, oligopolization, and monopolization." Synapse reviewed several analyses of market power in New England, including Hartman and Tabors for the Massachusetts Attorney General, Hieronymus for NEPOOL, and Pace for Massachusetts Electric. Synapse also conducted independent modeling analysis of market power in New England under various assumptions about market structure and mitigation. Report dated December 1998.
Synapse worked in conjunction with Environmental Futures and Tellus Institute to establish a system for tracking the electricity transactions that occurred in the restructured New England wholesale electricity market. The tracking system may be an essential tool in supporting such regulatory policies as fuel mix and emissions disclosure, generation performance standards, and renewable portfolio standards. Project completed in October 1998.
New England Tracking System Project
Synapse prepared an analysis of the costs associated with nuclear power plant decommissioning options and recommended that guidelines be established regarding the use of money raised for nuclear power plant decommissioning trust funds. The results were presented in the testimony of Bruce Biewald before the California Public Utilities Commission in Docket No. 97-12-020. Rebuttal testimony filed in August 1998.
Hydro-Québec proposed a performance-based ratemaking system for setting its generation rates. Peter Bradford provided direct testimony critiquing this proposal on behalf of this group of regional environmental counsels in Québec. Synapse supported Peter Bradford’s testimony, focusing on how PBR can be designed to provide regulated utilities with financial incentives to implement energy efficiency programs. Project completed in June 1998.
Synapse worked with the Global Development and Environment Institute to study the implications of ozone and NOx that is transported into the Northeast region from Midwest states. This study compared the costs of controlling NOx from the electricity sectors in both regions and estimated the additional costs that were expected to be incurred in the Northeast to offset the NOx transported from the Midwest. Project completed in 1998.
Synapse Energy Economics conducted an analysis of market power in New England for NECPUC. The report “Horizontal Market Power in New England Electricity Markets: Simulation Results and a Review of NEPOOL’s Analysis” was filed in July 1997 as part of NECPUC’s comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on market pricing in New England. Project completed in July 1997.
Horizontal Market Power in New England Electricity Markets: Simulation Results and a Review of NEPOOL’s Analysis - Appendix B, Data Assumptions for Modeling the New England Electricity Market
Synapse prepared an economic analysis of the Green Mountain Power Company’s above-market costs of its power contract with Hydro-Québec. The Vermont Public Service Board disallowed recovery of a substantial portion of the contract costs, based upon Bruce Biewald’s analysis and finding that the contract was not economically used and useful. Testimony filed in October 1997.
Synapse Energy Economics advised the Vermont DPS on electric industry restructuring. Bruce Biewald testified before the Vermont Public Service Board on industry structure, market power, stranded costs, nuclear power issues, renewable energy policies, and environmental protections. Synapse drafted the applicable sections of the DPS’s position paper on restructuring. Project completed in 1997.
Synapse conducted an economic analysis of a proposed 1,000 MW natural gas combined-cycle power plant. The results were presented in the testimony of Bruce Biewald before the Mississippi Public Service Commission in Docket No. 97-UA-496. Testimony filed in November 1997.
Synapse prepared comments on restructuring issues and a report on market power and stranded costs. Synapse provided testimony before the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission on these issues. Project completed in September 1997.
The Connecticut Attorney General retained Synapse Energy Economics to provide technical and policy support regarding the State’s electric industry restructuring process. Synapse addressed the following issues: stranded costs, market power, and environmental protection. Project completed in 1997.
Synapse prepared an overview of the utility and industry estimates of stranded costs in Massachusetts. The study discussed the implications of the Boston Edison, Massachusetts Electric Company, and Eastern Edison settlements on stranded costs, as well as the sale of MECO’s generation assets to the US Generation Company. The study also included an overview of stranded cost recovery policies, and recommended a set of policies for recovering stranded costs in Massachusetts. Report dated November 1997.
Synapse, with Tellus Institute, analyzed sustainable technologies and electricity restructuring for the New England Governors’ Conference. This project included the identification of barriers to renewable generation and current programs to overcome those barriers, as well as recommendations for policies to promote the development and use of renewable generating technologies in New England. Report dated November 1997.
Synapse provided consulting services regarding approaches to performance-based regulation of electricity distributors in Ontario. Project completed in June 1997.
Synapse Energy Economics and Resource Insight evaluated the market power implications of the proposed merger of Allegheny Power System and Duquesne Light Company. The results were presented in the testimony of Bruce Biewald before the Maryland Public Service Commission. Project completed in 1997.
Synapse analyzed PBR for distribution companies, and identified PBR options for maintaining public interest goals in a restructured electricity industry. This project included the examination of incentive frameworks for demand-side management and distributed generation, service quality measures, and PBR in the transition to deregulated generation. Resource Insight, National Consumer Law Center, and Peter Bradford were subcontractors to Synapse on this project. Report dated November 1997.
Synapse conducted a behavioral modeling analysis of electricity market power in New York City given transmission constraints. Bruce Biewald testified on behalf of the City in ConEd’s restructuring docket. Synapse reviewed the market power analysis conducted by Dr. Hieronymus for ConEd. Testimony filed in April 1997.
Synapse examined data availability and approaches for tracking transactions for “environmental disclosure” -- providing information to electricity consumers about the sources and impacts of the generation that they purchase. Report dated March 1997.
Bruce Biewald prepared “Electric Industry Restructuring and Environmental Sustainability” for the 17th North American Conference of the United States Association for Energy Economics and the International Association for Energy Economics in Boston, Massachusetts in October 1996.
In “Flexible Pricing and PBR: Making Rate Discounts Fair for Core Customers,” published in Public Utilities Fortnightly, Tim Woolf and Julie Michals discuss the inequity among customers and customer classes caused by flexible pricing and ways to increase the potential for net benefits to all customers. Article published July 15, 1996.
Performance-based ratemaking is increasingly being considered an alternative to traditional regulation within a more competitive electricity industry. If designed well, PBR can provide better financial incentives than exist today. In “Performance-Based Ratemaking: Opportunities and Risks in a Competitive Electricity Industry,” published in The Electricity Journal, Tim Woolf and Julie Michals discuss how regulators should carefully design PBR mechanisms that incorporate long-term public policy objectives as well as short-term profit incentives. Access the article here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/1040619095900187.
Bruce Biewald and Stephen Bernow prepared “Electric Utility System Reliability Analysis: Determining the Need for Generating Capacity” for the Sixth NARUC Biennial Regulatory Information Conference, September 1988.