Utility Regulation

Synapse supports our clients’ participation in electric utility rate cases, certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) cases, integrated resource planning dockets, and other proceedings that review and assess the costs, practices, and decision-making of regulated utilities. This work includes investigating rate design issues, alternative ratemaking mechanisms and policies, and whether regulated utility investments are “used and useful” and prudently incurred. We provide support regarding these matters in both litigation and rulemakings. 

Rate Cases

Synapse supports clients’ participation in electric utility rate cases. Synapse frequently provides analysis and testimony regarding:

  • Whether utility investments are used and useful and prudently incurred
  • Rate design issues, including proposed fixed charges, demand charges, and time-varying rates
  • Automatic adjustments, typically done through riders or trackers added to base rates

Regulatory Framework

Synapse assesses alternative ratemaking mechanisms to ensure that they encourage utilities to seek operational efficiencies and meet public policy goals without inappropriately shifting risk to customers. We provide policy guidance regarding alternative regulation such as Performance-Based Regulation (PBR) and decoupling, and assist in the development of appropriate utility performance incentives. Our work in this area includes:

  • Evaluating alternative regulatory frameworks and assessing whether they are, or are not, appropriate
  • Ensuring that regulated utilities are provided with meaningful financial incentives to reduce costs and increase efficiency
  • Assessing and designing performance metrics and incentives to encourage utilities to provide safe and reliable delivery of service, maintain (or improve) responsive customer service, address the needs of low-income customers, and adequately support innovative resources such as energy efficiency and distributed generation
  • Providing technical and policy support regarding revenue decoupling mechanisms to ensure that they sufficiently remove the financial disincentives that utilities face regarding demand-side resources, while protecting consumers

Grid Modernization

Regulators and utilities are recognizing the need to proactively plan for emerging technologies, enable customers to optimize their consumption, and promote innovative approaches for providing electricity services. We offer technical, analytical, and policy support in these areas.

Distributed Energy Resources

Declining costs and increasing customer demand are pushing forward a variety of technologies for customers to optimize their consumption and reduce their costs. We help our clients respond to these changes.

Review of Utility Investments

Synapse frequently investigates the appropriateness of proposed resource acquisitions in prior approval settings, such as certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) cases, in rate cases where new resources are being considered for inclusion in rates, and in resource planning contexts. For assessments in rate cases, Synapse examines whether regulated utility costs are “prudent” and “used and useful,” consistent with traditional ratemaking principles. In preapproval and planning contexts, Synapse examines projections of long-range costs and benefits and risks of proposed resources, emphasizing consideration of a full range of alternatives. For more information, see our Resource Planning capabilities.

Learn more about how Synapse supports clients on power sector transformation and distribution system planning topics.