Renewable Energy and Distributed Generation

Synapse analyzes the policy treatment, regulations, costs and benefits, employment impacts, rate impacts, emissions, grid integration issues, siting issues, and technical and economic potential of renewable energy and distributed generation (DG) technologiesincluding storage. This work includes reviewing the potential for renewable and DG resources in integrated resource planning exercises, and conducting detailed technical analysis and modeling to develop state and regional clean energy plans.

Renewable Resources

Synapse researches and analyzes the benefits and costs of renewable resources for electricity customers and for society as a whole. We also evaluate the public policies and regulations that are commonly used to support renewable energy. Our services include:

  • Evaluating the costs and benefits of renewable resources
  • Tracking region-specific renewable generation costs and operating characteristics
  • Analyzing grid integration issues associated with intermittent renewable resources
  • Analyzing the rules and regulations that affect the integration of renewable resources in wholesale markets and within RTOs and ISOs
  • Providing analysis to support the development of regulations such as renewable portfolio standards and feed-in tariffs
  • Reviewing the potential for renewable resources as alternatives to conventional fossil-fired generation, in the context of electric utility integrated resource planning
  • Conducting detailed analyses of clean energy scenarios with aggressive renewable energy growth
  • Developing feed-in tariff rates for renewable generators

Distributed Generation

Synapse evaluates the costs and benefits, potential, and policy treatment of distributed generation (DG)—a broad set of electricity generating technologies that are located on or near customer sites or within distribution systems. DG technologies include, but are not limited to, reciprocating engines, microturbines, fuel cells, photovoltaic cells, solar water heating, small-scale wind turbines, and combined heat and power (CHP). Our work related to DG includes:

  • Evaluating the benefits of DG, including avoided transmission and distribution investments, improved reliability for customers and the grid in general, reduced environmental impacts, increased efficiency of energy use, and reduced costs of energy services
  • Evaluating DG potential estimates through review of key assumptions such as DG capital and O&M costs and benchmarking analyses
  • Assessing the appropriate policy treatment of DG by both utility and environmental regulators
  • Evaluating grid interconnection requirements, dispatch rules, siting issues, emissions standards, and tariffs for DG
  • Reviewing utilities’ back-up and stand-by tariffs
  • Reviewing utility practices to utilize DG/CHP to delay or avoid transmission and distribution system investments
  • Conducting technical analyses to support rulemakings on emissions standards for DG

Net Metering

Synapse analyzes policy goals and assists with net metering program design. Synapse has also conducted cost-benefit analyses of current net metering policies and policy options. Our experience includes:

  • Analyzing the costs and benefits of net metering from several different perspectives
  • Reviewing net metering cost-benefit studies conducted by others
  • Examining design features of state net metering programs, including participation, eligibility requirements, caps on unit size, caps on aggregate participation, magnitude of credit for net excess generation (NEG), and special policies for public sector participants
  • Drafting policy options for regulators to ensure that state energy goals are met at the lowest cost to consumers
  • Drafting and refining net metering regulations