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As more and more governments and corporations commit to a zero-carbon future, the need for large amounts of renewable energy installations over the coming decades increases. In densely populated New England, there is limited space for large-scale installations of solar panels.

This has sparked discussion and debate about the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions tradeoff between installing solar panels and maintaining current land-use practices. To investigate the issue further, Synapse set out to answer the following questions within New England:

Synapse recently tackled an interesting challenge while analyzing a community solar program and its alternatives on behalf of the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers: Where do jobs and other macroeconomic impacts fit into a good benefit-cost analysis (BCA)?

I recently had the opportunity to join a technical conference panel about electrification at FERC, where we primarily addressed the market and grid implications of building and transportation electrification.

In my pre-panel comments to FERC, I did not have a chance to address an important aspect of building decarbonization: the on-site carbon emissions vary a lot between buildings.

As local and state governments begin to make commitments toward a clean energy transition, it is vital that these entities establish detailed, data-driven plans to achieve their emissions reductions and other goals.

The Synapse Electricity Snapshot 2021 highlights several major trends in 2020 electric sector capacity, generation, CO2 emissions, and related statistics. Our key findings include the following:

On February 23, 2021, the City of Boston hosted an open house to review its forthcoming emissions performance standard that will set limits on emissions from energy use in existing large- and medium-sized buildings. This policy is a key strategy for meeting the city’s 2050 goal of carbon neutrality. Existing buildings are responsible for three-quarters of citywide emissions in Boston. Three other U.S. cities have adopted building performance standards—Washington DC, New York City, and St.

On February 3, 2021, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released the 2021 Annual Energy Outlook (AEO). AEO 2021 contains projections of energy use from the electric power, residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors through 2050. AEO 2021’s Reference case is a projection of the future based on estimates of fuel availability, changes in technology costs, and current legislation. 

Last month, the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) announced a plan to stop burning coal by 2027 at the Stanton Energy Center. This plan is a pivotal first step to Orlando meeting its 2050 commitment to 100% renewable energy. The leadership of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and on-the-ground advocacy efforts by the First 50 Coalition (armed with expert analysis performed by Synapse Energy Economics) were critical in catalyzing this announcement and commitment by the OUC.

It is now widely understood that distributed energy resources – including energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation, storage, electrification, and electric vehicles – will need to play a fundamental role in meeting future energy needs while we decarbonize the electricity and natural gas industries.


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