Synapse conducted a study on behalf of the Civil Society Institute (CSI) to estimate the employment impacts of a scenario in which all coal-fired electric generation and much of the nuclear power existing in the United States in 2010 is phased out through 2050 and replaced with renewable generation and energy efficiency measures. This scenario was developed in a previous study completed for CSI in May 2010. The analysis utilized the IMPLAN model to estimate the direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts of this coal and nuclear phase-out on eight multi-state regions and on the U.S. as a whole.
In 2008, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA). The Act aims to mitigate Massachusetts greenhouse gas emissions by 10-25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050. Synapse worked in conjunction with Eastern Research Group and other sector experts to assist DOER in developing and analyzing policy instruments to help achieve these goals, and performed modeling to project the costs and impacts of various existing and potential greenhouse gas mitigation policies.
The purpose of this project was to provide comments on Minnesota Power's 2010 IRP after analyzing the Company's Strategist modeling results and presenting our own modeling scenarios and results. Synapse participated in several rounds of discovery questions asked to MN Power, replicated the five modeling scenarios analyzed by the Company, performed sensitivity analysis modeling on those scenarios, and created a "Synapse Reference Case." Synapse also modeled several retirement scenarios based on the Synapse Reference Case. Comments were due in September 2010 with rebuttal comments due one month later.
For this project, Synapse provided expert testimony before the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission regarding whether investments made by the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) in certain environmental upgrades, along with other capital outlays, were prudent and should be allowed recovery. Our testimony also addressed the question of coordination between the company's integrated resource plan activities and its rate case requests. Finally, Synapse reviewed certain environmental regulations that were likely to affect the operations and economics of PNM's coal plants. Project completed in 2011.
Exhibits of Testimony Regarding Public Service Company of New Mexico Proposed Revision of its Retail Rates
On behalf of Sierra Club, Synapse examined and assisted in responding to Southwestern Public Service Company's arguments regarding reliability as it relates to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). Bruce Biewald testified before the United State Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the use of probabilistic computer models to properly analyze system reliability.
Synapse assisted the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel with the state's Energy Master Planning (EMP) process. Our work included reviewing input assumptions and modeling methods for electric sector policies. Key policy options considered in the NJ EMP included energy efficiency programs, reform of the auction for Basic Generation Service, establishment of a state power authority, and various efforts to promote renewable energy and ensure reliable electricity service at reasonable cost to consumers. Project completed April 2011.
For this study, Synapse evaluated and compared two scenarios:
• Business as Usual (BAU): Under this scenario, the country continues to rely on fossil and nuclear generation to meet its energy needs, and electric-sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions continue to increase.
• Transition Scenario: Under this scenario, the country moves toward a power system based on efficiency and renewable energy, and CO2 emissions are reduced substantially. In the Transition Scenario, all U.S. coal-fired power plants are retired, along with nearly a quarter of the nation’s nuclear fleet, by 2050.
Synapse estimated the net costs and benefits of the Transition Scenario relative to BAU using a spreadsheet model that accounted for generating capacity, energy, fuel use, costs, emissions, and water use. The study found that the Transition Scenario was significantly less expensive than the BAU Scenario—saving a present value of $83 billion over 40 years. This finding was particularly striking, given that the BAU Scenario included no carbon costs or carbon reductions. Project completed in 2011.
Synapse provided analytical and policy support to the Vermont Department of Public Service in its development of a State Comprehensive Energy Plan. Synapse assisted in the definition of energy future scenarios and analyzed the cost, emissions, and broader economics of these plans. Using Market Analytics, Synapse modeled base and alternative scenarios for energy efficiency targets and renewable procurement, in order to estimate the changes in wholesale electricity costs. Working with VT DPS, and using the REMI model, Synapse then modeled the economic impacts (in terms of jobs, real disposable income, and GSP) of these cost changes, and of the associated investments. Synapse also provided support for the development and presentation of the final plan.
The project reviewed, critiqued and provided expert testimony on distributed generation and demand response aspects of Ontario Power Authority’s proposed “Integrated Power System Plan.”
On behalf of the Energy Foundation, Synapse prepared analysis of and reported on consumer impacts of federal climate legislation with and without supplemental investments in energy efficiency, by state, for the contiguous United States. Although the analysis was based on H.R. 2454 passed by Congress in 2009, the analytical approach and conclusions apply generally to cap-and-trade regulation.
Synapse was retained to collaborate with Nova Scotia Power on an update to its Integrated Resource Planning process. The planning was done subject to a hard cap on system carbon dioxide emissions, and other constraints. The resulting reference plan included aggressive development of wind and biomass, and rapid ramp-up of energy efficiency programs.
Synapse prepared expert reports on the planning and modeling conducted by defendants in a series of lawsuits involving the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act. This work has included a review of the Companies’ application of the PROMOD and PROSYM models and the development of PROSYM model runs to analyze the relationships between power plant availability, generation, and emissions.
Synapse was contracted by the Energy Foundation to perform a re-analysis of an econometric study regarding the cost of energy efficiency nationwide. The initial study examined trends in several hundred utility power deliveries, and structured a regression model to predict the impact of demand-side management (DSM) spending on ultimate deliveries to consumers. The study found a relatively high cost of energy efficiency, indicating that fairly little energy efficiency could be achieved, and at a high cost. The re-analysis examined initial data assumptions and the validity of the model construct in close cooperation with the initial study's authors. The final deliverable of this project us a white paper and executive briefing for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Information Administration, both charged with modeling the atmospheric impacts and costs of pending climate legislation in the U.S.
Synapse was contracted by the State of Utah to estimate the water and health co-benefits of implementing energy efficiency (EE) and increasing renewable energy (RE) resources in Utah. This modeling-based exercise drew upon power system expertise at Synapse, civil engineering at Tufts University, and emissions-receptor modeling from the Harvard School of Public Health. New EE and RE resources reduced in-state demand, which reduced some aspects of in-state generation. Synapse and team members identified current and future water and health externalities from baseline generation and load growth; co-benefits are identified as the difference between externalities from baseline generation and the EE/RE scenarios. For this project, Synapse modified an in-house statistically-based hourly dispatch model, developed using publicly available historical generation and emissions data. Future build-out and resource replacement were explicitly modeled. Total generation and emissions from each scenario were used to estimate externalities and associated costs: water consumption was based on reported water use for unit-specific cooling systems; the externality cost of water was the regional marginal cost of water, derived from transaction data; mortality and morbidity were calculated from the formation, dispersion, and geographically distributed population uptake of primary and secondary particulates and ozone; externality values were based on the statistical value of life and healthcare costs for hospital visits and lost productivity.
Co-Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in Utah - Presentation
Synapse analyzed a scenario for the Civil Society Institute in which energy efficiency and renewable energy replace coal-fired power generation by 2050. The analysis divided the country into eight regions and investigated how each region could phase out coal-fired electricity. The study found that, by 2050, expanded energy efficiency efforts could reduce electricity demand from current levels by 15 percent and that renewable energy could provide nearly half of the 2050 demand. Importantly, the coal-fired generation could be eliminated without increasing the country's reliance on nuclear power. The plan would involve modest near-term costs but would save money over the long term. "Beyond Business as Usual: Investigating a Future without Coal and Nuclear Power in the U.S" was released in May 2010.
Synapse analyzed the potential ratepayer impacts of a proposed new Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (“IGCC”) generating facility in Kemper County, Mississippi.
Synapse conducted an analysis of the projected costs and benefits of BGE’s proposed Smart Grid Initiative as well as the proposed allocation of Initiative costs among rate classes and the design of the proposed Smart Grid Charge.
Testimony Exhibits Regarding Baltimore Gas and Electric Company Smart Grid Initiative
Supplemental Direct Testimony Regarding Baltimore Gas and Electric Company Smart Grid Initiative
Reply Testimony Regarding Baltimore Gas and Electric Company Smart Grid Initiative
For the Maryland Office of People's Counsel, Synapse analyzed the projected costs and benefits of the AMI proposed by PEPCO MD and Delmarva MD respectively, as well as the rate and bill impacts of those proposals.
Reply Testimony Regarding the Advanced Meter Infrastructure Plans of Potomac Electric Power Company and Delmarva Power and Light Company
Supplemental Testimony Regarding the Advanced Meter Infrastructure Plans of Potomac Electric Power Company and Delmarva Power and Light Company
Synapse analyzed the policy and ratemaking implications of Allegheny Power and the FirstEnergy Companies filings, the level of projected benefits of the proposed Smart Meter Plans relative to their projected costs, the uncertainty associated with those benefits, and the allocation and rate design issues underlying the cost recovery proposals.
Supplemental Direct Testimony Regarding Allegheny Power Smart Meter Technology Plan
Surrebuttal Testimony Regarding Allegheny Power Smart Meter Technology Plan
Direct Testimony Regarding FirstEnergy Smart Meter Technology Plan
Surrebuttal Testimony Regarding FirstEnergy Smart Meter Technology Plan
Synapse performed analyses of proposed decoupling polices and pilot programs.
Synapse provided expert analysis and testimony in support of a proposed wind farm to be located in Vermont. Our analysis showed that the project will provide needed power, will satisfy renewable energy requirements in the state and the broader region, and provide a hedge against fuel and emissions costs for Vermont ratepayers.
The Deerfield Wind Project - Assessment of the Need for Power and the Economic and Environmental Attributes of the Project
Synapse was involved in a three-year effort in coordination with Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and District of Columbia advocates to monitor RTO activities in PJM. The central focus of the project was on RPM development and also market monitoring, transmission planning, and load forecasts.
Synapse was retained to review aspects of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) policy and associated state policies, with the aim of implementing consistent and effective policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions at reasonable cost while minimizing "leakage," or electric system policy boundary, problems.
For this project, Synapse reviewed KCPL’s IRP for consistency with law on the supply side for renewable resources. Tom Franks, of Optimal Energy, acted in a subcontractor role and focused on aspects of demand-side management.
Synapse was retained by Arkansas Public Service Commission staff as a subcontractor to Larkin Associates to provide assistance for a variety of projects related to electric resource planning and power procurement during July 2006 through June 2007. The first project evaluated whether Entergy Arkansas Inc. (EAI)’s proposed acquisition of a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) capacity was in the public interest. Tasks included the preparation of a background report on fuel diversity policies and practices, and testimony supporting the findings. This work assisted the Commission in its determination of whether to recommend the adoption of a fuel diversity standard under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005).
Synapse also evaluated the economics of a proposed coal plant in southwestern Arkansas. Synapse found that the Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) had not prudently considered the potential for further increases in the cost of building the plant or the costs of likely federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.
Additionally, Synapse reviewed changes to Entergy’s avoided cost methodology, and a proposed scrubber installation on an existing plant. All projects were completed August 2009.
Surrebuttal Testimony on Entergy Arkansas Avoided Cost Computation Methodology
Arkansas Electric Generation Fuel Diversity: Implementation of EPAct 2005 Amendments to PURPA Section 111 (d)
Testimony Addressing the Economic Impact of SWEPCO Proposed Hempstead Project
Phase II (AC) Direct Testimony Regarding Entergy Arkansas Inc. Request for Approval of New Capacity
Phase II (A) Surrebuttal Testimony Regarding Entergy Arkansas Inc. Request for Approval of New Capacity
Phase II (B) Direct Testimony Regarding Entergy Arkansas Inc. Request for Approval of New Capacity
This project consisted of a review of the 2008 integrated resource plan filed by AmerenUE.
Synapse and Lanzalotta Associates analyzed the proposed $1 billion TrAIL 500 kV transmission line from southwestern Pennsylvania to northern Virginia for the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate. Their findings included recommendations to implement energy efficiency and demand response in the West Penn Power service territory of Allegheny Power to reduce local loading, and to reinforce the 138 kV system in the area, instead of building one portion of the proposed line, the segment between 502 Junction and Prexy in PA. The findings also included a recommendation for more rigorous analysis of the overall need for the remaining portion of the line between 502 Junction and Loudoun (No. VA), given PJM’s minimal analysis of the effect of federal CO2 regulation on the claimed PJM dispatch efficiencies and production cost savings associated with the line.
Synapse was retained to assess economics of proposed 500 kV line with emphasis on analysis and critique of Hydro One computation of locked-in energy associated with alternative projects.
Synapse made adjustments to New England avoided electricity cost projections to account for various methods for treatment of carbon dioxide emissions.
Synapse coordinated a statewide effort to identify and evaluate potential state policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the state of South Carolina. Synapse’s focus was on policies that would affect the electricity supply and demand sectors, including reducing the carbon footprint of the generation mix and improving the efficiency of energy use in the state.