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Client:
Consumers Union
Year:
2016, 2015

Jurisdictions across the country are grappling with the challenges and opportunities associated with rapidly increasing adoption of distributed solar resources. While distributed solar can provide many benefits – such as increased customer choice, decreased emissions, and decreased utility system costs – in some circumstances it may result in increased bills for non-solar customers. Utility regulators and state policy-makers face the difficult task of striking a balance between ensuring that cost-effective clean energy resources continue to be developed, and avoiding unreasonable rate and bill impacts for non-solar customers.

This report, prepared by Synapse for Consumers Union, provides a framework for helping decision-makers analyze distributed solar policy options comprehensively and concretely. This framework is grounded in addressing the three key questions that regulators should ask regarding any potential distributed solar policy:

  • How will the policy affect the development of distributed solar?
  • How cost-effective are distributed solar resources?
  • To what extent does the policy mitigate or exacerbate any cost shifting to non-solar customers?

Answering these questions will enable decision-makers to determine which policy options best balance the protection of customers with the promotion of cost-effective distributed solar resources.

 
For more on this project, read the press release and Medium post from Consumers Union.
 
 
Related Publication(s)
Show Me the Numbers: A Framework for Balanced Distributed Solar Policies
Show Me the Numbers Slide Deck
Client:
Natural Resources Defense Council
Year:
2016, 2015

The New York Public Service Commission has undertaken an ambitious initiative to improve system efficiency, empower customer choice, and encourage greater penetration of clean generation and efficiency technologies. Called the Reforming the Energy Vision initiative, or REV, this case has proceeded on two tracks. The focus of Track Two is to examine what regulatory changes in current regulatory, tariff, and market designs and incentive structures are needed to better align utility interests with achieving the PSC’s objectives. Synapse provided the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) with analytical and policy expertise to help NRDC ensure that REV Track Two: (1) results in a regulatory and ratemaking model for New York that moves away from electricity as a commodity, (2) promotes the penetration of clean and renewable resources, (3) ultimately decarbonizes the electric sector, and (4) becomes a model for other jurisdictions. Synapse assisted NRDC in this matter by conducting and quantitative research and analysis to inform NRDC comments and proposals, developing and executing work plans for strategic engagement in REV Track Two, working with NRDC to draft submissions to the PSC, and otherwise participate in REV-related stakeholder processes, where required.

Synapse also assisted NRDC with Track One issues

Related Publication(s)
Aiming Higher: Realizing the Full Potential of Cost-Effective Energy Efficiency in New York
Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Reforming the Energy Vision Benefit-Cost Analysis White Paper
Reply Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Reforming the Energy Vision Benefit-Cost Analysis White Paper
Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Reforming the Energy Vision Track 2 White Paper
Reply Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Reforming the Energy Vision Track 2 White Paper
Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Distributed System Implementation Plan Guidance
Reply Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Distributed System Implementation Plan Guidance
Comments on New York Public Service Commission Initial Distributed System Implementation Plans
Reply Comments on New York Public Service Commission Initial Distributed System Implementation Plans
Comments on New York Public Service Commission Supplemental Distributed System Implementation Plans
Reply Comments on New York Public Service Commission Supplemental Distributed System Implementation Plans
Comments on VDER Phase 1 Implementation Plans
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
The National Standard Practice Manual and the Value of Energy Efficiency in New York
Client:
Year:
2016

A decade ago, the purpose of integrated resource plans (IRPs) was clear: find a least-cost way for central utilities to meet expanding energy needs. Today, a dramatically new energy landscape is shifting the purpose of IRPs. On June 16, 2016, Synapse's Principal Associate Dr. Jeremy Fisher, Senior Associate Dr. Ariel Horowitz, and Senior Associate Patrick Luckow reviewed the changing functions of IRPs across the United States during a Synapse webinar. They explored how the latest IRPs evaluate the costs and benefits of existing resources, assess the impacts of environmental regulations, integrate renewable energy, and address higher penetrations of distributed generation.

 

Related Publication(s)
The Changing Face of Electric Resource Planning (Webinar Slides)
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:
Sierra Club
Year:
2016

Synapse assisted Sierra Club and its fellow coalition members in their involvement in a Utah net metering proceeding (Utah Division of Public Utilities Docket No. 14-035-114). Synapse provided support for four technical conferences: on technical valuation, economic valuation, cost-effectiveness valuation, and rate design and cost of service.

Related Publication(s)
Rate Design: Options for addressing NEM impacts
Client:
Southern Environmental Law Center
Year:
2016

On behalf of the Southern Environmental Law Center, Synapse provided analysis and testimony for two dockets in front of the South Carolina Public Service Commission. In dockets 2016-1-E and 2016-3-E (ongoing), petitioners Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Carolinas proposed updated value of solar calculations in their respective annual fuel cost dockets. These updates track compliance with the 2014 settlement regarding distributed energy resources such as residential PV. Witness Thomas Vitolo, PhD, submitted written testimony regarding the appropriate calculation of benefit categories associated with the value of solar calculation.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Thomas Vitolo PhD Regarding Duke Energy Carolinas NEM Methodology
Surrebuttal Testimony of Thomas Vitolo PhD Regarding Duke Energy Carolinas NEM Methodology
Client:
Southern Environmental Law Center
Year:
2016

On behalf of the Southern Environmental Law Center, Synapse provided analysis and testimony in front of the South Carolina Public Service Commission. In docket 2016-2-E, petitioner South Carolina Electric & Gas proposed updated value of solar calculations in its annual fuel cost docket. These updates track compliance with the 2014 settlement regarding distributed energy resources such as residential PV. Witness Thomas Vitolo, PhD, submitted written testimony regarding the appropriate calculation of benefit categories associated with the value of solar calculation. Project completed July 2016.

Client:
Southern Environmental Law Center
Year:
2016

On behalf of the Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Synapse analyzed the need for additional natural gas pipeline infrastructure in Virginia. No fewer than three new gas pipelines are proposed to run through West Virginia and Virginia: 1) the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 550-mile pipeline proposed by Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and AGL Resources; 2) the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a 330-milepipeline proposed by EQT Corporation and NextEra; and 3) the Appalachian Connector Pipeline (formerly called the Western Marcellus Pipeline), an expansion of the Transco interstate pipeline proposed by Williams. All three projects will require approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which considers such projects on a case-by-case basis. Synapse staff led a project to assess the region’s pipeline needs system-wide to determine capacity needs and to compare these needs to expected future demand for natural gas.

Related Publication(s)
Are the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline Necessary?
Client:
American Wind Energy Association
Year:
2016

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) retained Synapse to provide an analysis of potential future wind policies. Synapse modeled a suite of policy sensitivities using NREL’s ReEDS model, including a business-as-usual case, carbon tax case, and variations on the form of production tax incentives. For all cases, modeling included all U.S. states over the time period 2016-2030.

Client:
Energy Foundation
Year:
2015

One of the key benefits most attributed to energy efficiency and renewable energy (clean energy resources) is that they reduce the use of fossil fuel resources consumed for generating electricity, and in doing so reduce fossil fuel-related carbon dioxide emissions. Synapse reviewed a range of sources and compiled evidence that clean energy resources have indeed displaced generation by fossil resources connected to the grid, and that they are projected to continue doing so in the future. The report includes:

  • utility-level case studies of electric system integrated resource planning (IRP) model results;
  • a review of national-level analyses;
  • an overview of marginal resources in different regional transmission organization (RTO) areas;
  • modeling case studies using EPA’s AVERT; and
  • a review of historical data demonstrating the impact that energy efficiency and renewable energy have already had on fossil fuel use.

In addition, the report highlights original Synapse analysis using the ReEDS model on the impacts of expanding clean energy resources on emissions related to fossil-fuel generation.

Related Publication(s)
Air Emissions Displacement by Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2015

In 2014, Ameren Missouri submitted its proposed 2016-2018 Energy Efficiency Plan under the Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act (MEEIA). The Act stipulates that utilities should implement demand-side programs with the goal of achieving all cost-effective demand-side savings. On behalf of Sierra Club, Synapse reviewed the proposed three-year plan and submitted expert testimony with recommendations for how the plan could be improved to increase the benefits available to Ameren customers and to the Company.

Related Publication(s)
Rebuttal Testimony of Tim Woolf Regarding Ameren Missouri 2016-2018 Energy Efficiency Plan
Surrebuttal Testimony of Tim Woolf Regarding Ameren Missouri 2016-2018 Energy Efficiency Plan
Client:
New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel
Year:
2015

Synapse analyzed the residential demand response programs of three New Jersey electric distribution companies. 

Client:
Regional Economic Models, Inc., Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
Year:
2015

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) commissioned a study to analyze how a possible revenue-neutral carbon tax (or fee) could be implemented in the Commonwealth. To explore the implications of a state-specific carbon tax, Synapse and Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) developed a methodology for incorporating the supply-side energy system effects of CO2 pricing in the REMI macroeconomic models of the United States. Synapse used the ReEDS model to explore emissions and cost impacts of several policy structures for Massachusetts as well as for the rest of New England and the rest of the RGGI states.

Related Publication(s)
Analysis of a Carbon Fee or Tax as a Mechanism to Reduce GHG Emissions in Massachusetts
Client:
New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel
Year:
2015, 2014, 2013

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. Project work for the 2012 proceeding completed in April 2013.

Client:
District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General
Year:
2015, 2014

Synapse is providing expert technical consulting services to the District of Columbia’s Office of the Attorney General related to Exelon Corporation’s proposed acquisition of Pepco Holdings. Specifically, Synapse reviewed the Joint Applicants' economic impact analysis; merger-related reliability issues; risks associated with the Joint Applicants’ affiliated non-jurisdictional business operations and issues related to conservation of natural resources and preservation of environmental quality. Synapse is submitting testimony in the legal proceeding on behalf of the District of Columbia Government. Synapse performed similar analysis related to the merger on behalf of clients in Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Tyler Comings on the Economic Impact Analysis of the Exelon-Pepco Merger
Direct Testimony of Max Chang on Reliability, Risk, and Environmental Impacts of Exelon-Pepco Merger
Answering Testimony of Tyler Comings on the Economic Impact Analysis of the Exelon-PHI Merger
Answering Testimony of Max Chang on Reliability Impacts of the Exelon-PHI Merger
Client:
Maryland Office of the People’s Counsel
Year:
2015

Synapse provided expert technical consulting services to the Maryland Office of the People's Counsel related to Exelon Corporation’s proposed acquisition of Pepco Holdings Incorporated. Specifically, Synapse reviewed the Joint Applicants' economic impact analysis and concerns regarding concentration of ownership, market power, and market manipulation in the wholesale electricity market. Synapse submitted testimony in the legal proceeding on behalf of the MD OPC. Synapse performed similar analysis related to the merger on behalf of clients in Delaware, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Tyler Comings Regarding Economic Impact Analysis in Proposed Exelon-PHI Merger in Maryland
Direct Testimony of Paul Peterson on Market Power Issues Related to the Exelon-Pepco Merger in Maryland
Surrebuttal Testimony of Tyler Comings Regarding Economic Impact Analysis in Proposed Exelon-PHI Merger in Maryland
Surrebuttal Testimony of Paul Peterson on Market Power Issues Related to the Exelon-Pepco Merger in Maryland
Client:
New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel
Year:
2015

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.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Max Chang on Reliability Impact of Exelon-Pepco Merger in New Jersey
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
Client:
Center for Rural Affairs
Year:
2015, 2014

The Center for Rural Affairs required technical assistance regarding the future of the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD)‐owned Sheldon Station generating plant, including research, analysis, and findings presented in a report. Synapse detailed Sheldon’s future capital and operating costs and generation benefits, presented a list of credible options for NPPD’s replacement of Sheldon, and documented these findings in a clear, concise manner.

Synapse researched Sheldon’s future costs (i.e., costs driven by environmental regulation, market forces, and daily operations), as well as estimated the benefits NPPD gained by the plant’s operation, including those related to NPPD’s energy, capacity, and reliability needs. Synapse then outlined Nebraska‐specific options for alternatives, including energy efficiency, wind or solar photovoltaic generation, natural gas generation, market purchases, and/or transmission upgrades.

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 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.

 

Related Publication(s)
Quadrennial Energy Review Meeting Notes 15 April 2016
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
Client:
Southern Environmental Law Center
Year:
2015

In September 2014, Dominion Resources and its partners Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and AGL Resources announced their joint investment in the 550‐mile interstate Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The proposed pipeline would bring natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia and into eastern North Carolina. Synapse reviewed two reports released by Dominion and its partners—one by ICF International and one by Chmura Economics & Analytics—that assessed the projected economic, job, and tax benefits associated with building and operating the ACP. Synapse identified a number of problems with the reports’ conclusions, finding that the ICF report likely overestimates the benefits of the pipeline and that both the ICF report and the Chmura report are largely inauditable.  

Related Publication(s)
Atlantic Coast Pipeline Benefits Review
Client:
Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
Year:
2015

Synapse staff developed pre-filed direct testimony for the Massachusetts Departments of Energy Resources and Environmental Protection related to the cost of Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) compliance avoided by energy efficiency programs in Massachusetts. Synapse developed a marginal abatement cost curve analysis examining the expected costs and reductions from specific policies. This methodology was used to explore the marginal policy—and associated cost—needed to achieve carbon dioxide emission reductions in line with the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act.

Related Publication(s)
Stanton Corrected Amended Direct Testimony Regarding the Avoided Costs of Complying with the Global Warming Solutions Act
Woolf Second Amended Direct Testimony Regarding the Avoided Costs of Complying with the Global Warming Solutions Act
Stanton Rebuttal Testimony Regarding the Avoided Costs of Complying with the Global Warming Solutions Act
Woolf Rebuttal Testimony Regarding the Avoided Costs of Complying with the Global Warming Solutions Act
Client:
Citizens' Climate Lobby
Year:
2015

Synapse prepared a report on the key institutional, regulatory, and market barriers to the expansion of wind and solar development in the near term. Despite the declining costs of these technologies, their expansion is limited by technical issues and by "virtual" inefficiencies—limitations associated with structures, communications, and procedures that have adapted in a localized, fossil fuel-centric power market. The Synapse report addresses transmission and other technical barriers, administrative burdens that stall development, uncertain renewable energy policies that weaken incentives, and rate design that negatively impacts distributed generation. The report also addresses supposed barriers such as threats to system stability from the addition of intermittent renewables that—it turns out—will not be an issue for many years.

Related Publication(s)
Technical and Institutional Barriers to the Expansion of Wind and Solar Energy
Client:
Belmont Clean Energy
Year:
2015

Synapse reviewed a distributed solar tariff that was proposed as an alternative policy for the Town of Belmont, Massachusetts. At the request of a group of volunteer citizens, Synapse provided a memorandum that discussed a tariff proposed by the citizen group. The memo reviewed the alternative policy specifically to answer the following question: Is the tariff fair to ratepayers that do not have rooftop solar?

Related Publication(s)
Memorandum Reviewing Distributed Generation Policy Proposed by Belmont Citizens
Client:
Utah Clean Energy
Year:
2015

Synapse provided Utah Clean Energy with consulting services regarding a net energy metering (NEM) docket in Utah. Expert witness Tim Woolf testified before the Public Service Commission on an appropriate analytic framework to evaluate the costs and benefits of NEM. Specifically, Mr. Woolf discussed the need to apply two separate metrics: one to indicate cost impacts (in terms of present value of revenue requirements) and one to indicate rate impacts (in terms of the percent impact on rates).  

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Tim Woolf on the Benefit-Cost Framework for Net Energy Metering in Utah
Rebuttal Testimony of Tim Woolf on the Benefit-Cost Framework for Net Energy Metering in Utah
Surrebuttal Testimony of Tim Woolf on the Benefit-Cost Framework for Net Energy Metering in Utah
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:
Whitt Law LLC
Year:
2015

Synapse prepared two expert reports to be presented in annual property tax assessment cases relating to the valuation of the Byron Nuclear Power Station. The first gives a history of electricity restructuring, its effect on nuclear generation, and its impact on Illinois and the Byron station in particular. The second report rebuts the argument made by Concentric Energy Advisors that nuclear plants that are members of fleets enjoy superior historical performance due to this membership, and that the value of Byron station should thus be adjusted downward when assessing its worth to a non-fleet buyer. 

Client:
N/A
Year:
2015

Synapse and other supporting organizations—MassEnergy, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, and the Environment Economics & Society Institute—hosted a free, one-day training program for local environmental advocates interested in expanding their technical knowledge in order to become more effective intervenors and stakeholders.

Topics covered included the history and future of New England’s electric sector; supply and demand of energy in New England; the ISO and wholesale energy markets; current electric planning in New England; resource choices; and planning for greenhouse gas compliance.

Related Publication(s)
Clean Energy Advocates Bootcamp: Understanding Supply and Demand in New England
Client:
Ohio Office of Consumers’ Counsel
Year:
2016, 2015

Synapse assisted the Ohio Office of Consumer Counsel with issues related to EPA’s Clean Power Plan. This work included providing consultation and analysis on the plan’s costs to Ohio consumers, allowance trading, energy efficiency as a compliance option, and the impacts of compliance pathways on bills and emissions. 

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