You can browse all project descriptions (below), or narrow the search results by selecting one or more filters (topic area, client, etc.).

Client:
Maryland Office of People’s Counsel
Year:
2021

The Public Service Commission of Maryland directed the PC44 Electric Vehicle Work Group to develop a consensus electric vehicle benefit-cost assessment (BCA) framework for the Commission's consideration. The EV Work Group was directed to examine the National Standard Practice Manual (NSPM) and the EmPOWER Maryland Evaluation, Verification, and Measurement Framework to help inform the BCA. On behalf of the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel (OPC) Synapse attended a series of EV Work Group meetings over the course of 2021 where it provided guidance and comments on draft BCA proposals. The leader of the PC44 EV Work Group submitted the group’s proposed EV BCA Framework to the Commission on December 1, 2021. Report - 9478 (ML# 238013)

Client:
AESC Study Group
Year:
2021

Avoided Energy Supply Costs in New England 2021 study materials:

For more information about the AESC study, please visit our project page.

Synapse has also conducted a supplemental study updating its social cost of carbon recommendation on behalf of the Massachusetts energy efficiency program administrators. View more details here.

Related Publication(s)
Supplemental Study - Expansion of Natural Gas Benefits
AESC 2021 Presentation
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D
Appendix K
Client:
Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Program Administrators:, Cape Light Compact, Eversource, Liberty, National Grid, Unitil
Year:
2021

Synapse performed a supplemental study to examine the latest information on the social cost of carbon and develop an updated recommendation. Learn more about the AESC study here.

Related Publication(s)
AESC 2021 Supplemental Study: Update to Social Cost of Carbon Recommendation
Client:
AESC Study Group
Year:
2021, 2018

Synapse and a team of subcontractors developed projections of electricity and natural gas costs that would be avoided due to reductions in electricity and natural gas use resulting from improvements in energy efficiency. The 2021 report provides projections of avoided costs of electricity and natural gas by year from 2021 through 2035 with extrapolated values through the mid-2050s. In addition to projecting the costs of energy and capacity avoided directly by program participants, the report provides estimates of the Demand Reduction Induced Price Effect (DRIPE) of efficiency programs on wholesale market prices for electric energy, electric capacity, and natural gas. The report also provides a projection of avoided costs of fuel oil and other fuels, non-embedded environmental costs associated with emissions of CO2 and NOX, avoided costs of transmission and distribution, and the value of reliability. The 2021 AESC study was sponsored by a group representing all of the major electric and gas utilities in New England as well as efficiency program administrators, energy offices, regulators, and advocates. Synapse conducted prior AESC studies in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2018.

Visit our AESC 2021 Materials page to download the AESC 2021 report appendices, user interfaces, a slide deck on the study findings, and supplemental studies.

Visit our AESC 2018 Materials page to review the 2018 report and additional materials.

Synapse has also conducted supplemental analysis on the avoided costs of compliance of the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act. Visit here for more details.

Related Publication(s)
Avoided Energy Supply Components in New England: 2021 Report (May Re-Release)
Avoided Energy Supply Components in New England: 2021 Report (March Release)
Avoided Energy Supply Components in New England: 2018 Report (October Re-Release)
Avoided Energy Supply Components in New England: 2018 Report (June Re-Release)
Avoided Energy Supply Components in New England: 2018 Report (March 30 Release)
Avoided Energy Supply Costs in New England: 2013 Report
Avoided Energy Supply Costs in New England: 2011 Report
Avoided Energy Supply Costs in New England: 2009 Report
Avoided Energy Supply Costs: 2007 Final Report
Affidavit Regarding the Avoided Energy Supply Cost 2011 Report
Highlights of AESC 2011 Report: Presentation to the Vermont Public Service Board
Highlights of AESC 2011 Report: Presentation to Efficiency Maine Trust
Highlights of 2009 AESC Report: Presentation to the Vermont Public Service Board
Electricity Cost Highlights of Avoided Energy Supply Costs in New England 2007 Final Report
Client:
Regulatory Assistance Project
Year:
2021

Synapse assisted the Regulatory Assistance Project with developing a guide utility regulators and other policymakers can use to adapt regulatory frameworks so that their jurisdictions can capture the full benefits of beneficial electrification and associated load flexibility in buildings. Technologies such as controllable water heaters, smart thermostats, and air source heat pumps create new opportunities for buildings to flexibly manage energy use and interact with the power grid in ways that benefit the electric system, homeowners, and the environment. Yet, many existing regulations were not designed to support the transition to lower-emission, electrified, and grid-integrated buildings. The guide focuses on ways to adapt regulations so that building electrification can be equitable, flexible, and grid-integrated. The guidebook addresses the need to update to fuel-neutral energy efficiency resource standards and program design, as well as to modernize building codes and performance standards and the evaluation of gas infrastructure needs. In addition to the guide, the authors provided an interactive webinar on ways to help regulators support the evolution of regulatory frameworks. 

Related Publication(s)
Regulating Renovation to Electrify Buildings: A Guide for the Handy Regulator
A Guide for the Handy Regulator Webinar Presentation
Client:
Eversource Electric
Year:
2021

On behalf of Eversource Electric in Connecticut, Synapse developed an active demand reduction (ADR) benefit-cost (BC) screening model. Additionally, Synapse investigated storage benefits beyond those captured in the 2018 Avoided Energy Supply Costs study to be used either as quantitative inputs to the BC screening model or as qualitative information that will support the development of storage programs. By drawing upon literature reviews and common industry assumptions, Synapse produced storage non-energy benefits that could be input into the ADR BC model.

Client:
City of Boston
Year:
2021

On behalf of the City of Boston, Synapse performed an in-depth building energy data analysis to develop a draft building emissions performance standard. The analysis involved developing frameworks and cost impacts for mandatory GHG emissions targets by building type that decrease over time. As part of the project, Synapse convened and facilitated a series of technical discussions with an advisory group comprised of experts in building science, architecture, engineering, construction, building operations, energy policy, renewable energy, and affordable housing. Using input from the City and the advisory group, Synapse developed recommendations, including proposed targets by building type, example compliance strategies, and aggregate cost estimates. Advisory group meeting materials are available on the City's website. The report published below describes the proposed standard and the methodology used to develop it.

Related Publication(s)
Boston Building Emissions Performance Standard - Technical Methods Overview
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2021, 2020

On behalf of the Sierra Club, Synapse developed and modeled a Clean Energy Portfolio for Tampa Electric Company (TECO) that met the City of Tampa’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. For our analysis, we modeled a Business as Usual (BAU) Scenario where TECO continues to rely on its current fossil resources, and a clean energy scenarios where TECO retires its remaining coal unit and reduces its dependence on energy from its existing gas plants by building out solar PV and battery storage and increasing investment in demand-side management. The clean energy scenario achieves a 50 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for TECO by 2035. We also tested a more aggressive sensitivity that achieves an 80 percent RPS by 2035.

We found that transitioning to 50 percent renewables is the lowest-cost resource option for Tampa ratepayers relative to continued reliance on fossil resources. The 50% Clean Energy Scenario saved ratepayers between $400 million and $1.6 billion in net present value terms relative to TECO's current fossil plan, depending on the gas and carbon pricing forecasts. This Clean Energy Scenario will also reduce CO2 emissions by 60 percent by 2040 (compared to 2021 levels) and prevents approximately 50 million tons of CO2 from being emitted compared to the TECO BAU scenario. We also found that the Clean Energy Scenario generated more and higher quality local jobs than the BAU scenario.

Related Publication(s)
A Clean Energy Future for Tampa
Client:
Natural Resources Defense Council
Year:
2021

NRDC is in the process of developing a “climate test” tool with the capability of assessing the consistency of proposed fossil fuel projects with climate goals. The test, which is anticipated to be published in late 2021/early 2022, will have the capability to determine the consistency of fossil fuel infrastructure proposals with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Synapse provided technical support to NRDC for refinement of this climate test and potential future extensions. Synapse collaborated with NRDC’s team of in-house scientists and policy experts to carry out research and analysis of several case study demonstrations of the tool: a gas pipeline, oil pipeline, oil and gas field, and gas plants. The tool relies on environmental and economic data to quantify the environmental significance of impacts from individual energy infrastructure projects in the oil and gas sector.

Client:
Hawaii Division of Consumer Advocacy
Year:
2021

Synapse provided expert witness and consulting services to the Hawaii Division of Consumer Advocacy in a proceeding to develop and review integrated resource plans (IRPs) for three electric companies. Topics included scenario planning, resource modeling, community and stakeholder input processes, and analysis of locally produced biofuels, wind and solar energy opportunities (both distributed and large scale), battery storage, and other renewable energy options. The three major electric companies supplying 95 percent of Hawaii's electricity are simultaneously facing the need to retrofit or replace existing generation impacted by new environmental regulations and the onset of a very stringent renewable portfolio standard (40 percent by 2030). Synapse reviewed these key issues and addressed how best to meet future constraints and policy goals while minimizing costs to consumers. Synapse also provided the Division with production cost modeling analysis to identify avoided costs, including avoided ancillary service costs. We also provided technical support for developing time-of-use rates for distributed energy resources.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Rick Hornby Regarding HECO Application for a Biofuel Supply Contract with Hawai’i BioEnergy
Direct Testimony of Rick Hornby Regarding HECO & HELCO’s Application for a Biofuel Supply Contract with AKP
Direct Testimony of Patrick Luckow Regarding HECO & HELCO’s Application for a Biofuel Supply Contract with AKP
Client:
GridLab, Coalition of Environmental Non-Profits
Year:
2021

GridLab commissioned Synapse to evaluate Duke Energy's 2020 Integrated Resource Plans and to present an alternative, optimized resource portfolio for the state on behalf of a coalition of environmental non-profits. Synapse used the EnCompass capacity optimization and production cost model to create an alternative resource portfolio. This alternative resource plan meets North Carolina's emissions reduction target of 70 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, relies on a portfolio of increased energy efficiency, renewables, and storage, and is the least-cost option when compared to those presented by Duke in its filings.

Client:
Eastern Research Group, Cape Cod Commission
Year:
2021

Synapse Energy Economics, as a subcontractor to Eastern Research Group, provided energy sector modeling services in support of the Cape Cod Commission’s efforts to explore the economic impacts of climate change. Energy sector modeling focused on an exploration of several greenhouse gas emissions mitigation scenarios. Synapse performed modeling for the three primary energy sectors: transportation, buildings, and electricity. The results of the modeling were used to develop recommendations for the Cape Cod Climate Action Plan.

Related Publication(s)
Executive Summary: Economic Impacts of Climate Change on Cape Cod
Technical Report: Economic Impacts of Climate Change on Cape Cod
Client:
City of Chelsea, Massachusetts
Year:
2021

Synapse Energy Economics, Climable, GreenRoots, and Clean Energy Solutions provided technical assistance to the City of Chelsea, Massachusetts to develop a community-centric microgrid at two of its critical facilities: City Hall and Police Station 911 Call Center. The team of experts provided technical design, economic analysis, community engagement activities, and policy support to the City. Funding from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Municipal Energy Technical Assistance Grant helped complete the following project activities:

  • An energy assessment of City Hall and police station, including recommendations for electrification, resilience, and energy savings.
  • Calculation of the public benefits from improved resilience, electrification, and energy efficiency of the 911 Call Center and City Hall.
  • Preparation of public-facing materials to describe the upgrades and their benefits to the community.
  • Development of design concepts and selection criteria for contractors to perform building improvements.
  • Identification of a strategy for City Hall and the Police Station to integrate into a broader distributed microgrid in Chelsea.

The resulting the proposed projects create a variety of opportunities for the City of Chelsea and its residents to “prosper-in-place,” produce decentralized clean energy, develop local career pathways, lower energy costs, improve climate resilience, and engage actively with the community.

Community Flyers on the Benefits of Microgrids

Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2021

Sierra Club retained Synapse to conduct an analysis that identifies optimal rates for successor net energy metering (NEM 3.0) customers in California. Optimal rates were defined as those that most strongly encourage solar NEM customers to electrify their vehicle and home (space heating, space cooling, water heating, clothes drying, and cooking) by reducing total energy bills when switching from gas to electric. Dr. Erin Camp conducted a bill impact analysis for single-family customers in Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison's service territories, evaluating several proposed rates. Her expert witness testimony, filed in June 2021, addressed which rates most strongly incentivize electrification, estimated the reduced greenhouse gas emissions associated with the electrification of the utility's NEM customers, and quantified the likely impact of the rate change on non-NEM customers.

Client:
Iowa Economic Development Authority
Year:
2021

Synapse partnered with subcontractor Slipstream, Inc. to produce a comprehensive assessment of the energy storage potential in Iowa for the Iowa Economic Development Authority. The study produced forecasts of energy storage deployments in Iowa. By 2035, Iowa could see between 1 GW and 2 GW of energy storage deployed within the state. The study found that the scale and pace of energy storage deployments in Iowa will depend on many factors. This includes future capital and maintenance costs for battery storage systems, wholesale market reforms, and the degree to which state regulators incentivize utilities to consider storage as an alternative to traditional utility investments.

The study included macroeconomic modeling using Implan to explore the impacts on Iowa's gross domestic product and employment. The state economic impacts of a growing battery storage industry were estimated to be limited, but positive. This includes net job impacts ranging from 298 to 595 full-time equivalent jobs and state gross domestic product impacts from $13 million to $24 million per year. The macroeconomic impacts could be larger if Iowa attracts new businesses to the state that are part of the battery storage supply chain.

The Iowa energy storage study included an assessment of the barriers and best practices to the development of sustainable market opportunities for energy storage in Iowa. This report identified three key barriers to the broader implementation of storage in Iowa. These include: (1) lack of current alignment between storage value and markets; (2) the relatively high capital cost of battery systems; and (3) uncertainty in the future (for markets, regulation, and battery technology).

Read the Iowa Economic Development Authority's Executive Summary here.

Related Publication(s)
Energy Storage in Iowa: Market Analysis and Potential Economic Impact
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2021

Synapse evaluated the installation of coal combustion residuals and effluent limitation guideline costs at existing coal plants in dockets before the Public Utilities Commissions in three power plants: the Amos and Mountaineer plants in West Virginia, owned by Appalachian Power Company (APC); and the Mitchell plant in West Virginia, co-owned by Kentucky Power (KPC) and Wheeling Power (WPC). Synapse updated the companies' renewable pricing and found that a scenario in which effluent limitation guideline investments were foregone and the plants were retired in 2028 was more economic than a scenario in which the plants continued operating until 2040.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Rachel Wilson Regarding APC's and WPC's Application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity
Rebuttal Testimony of Rachel Wilson Regarding APC's and WPC's Application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity
Direct Testimony of Rachel Wilson Regarding APC's Application for Rate Adjustment
Direct Testimony of Rachel Wilson Regarding KPC's Application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity
Client:
Sierra Club, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Year:
2021

Devi Glick provided expert testimony on behalf of Sierra Club in the Fuel Charge Adjustment Proceeding filed by Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) and Duke Energy Progress (DEP) in North Carolina on behalf of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy in South Carolina. Ms. Glick's testimony evaluated Duke’s unit commitment and dispatch practices at its coal-fired power plants. Her testimony demonstrated that the costs used by Duke to make its unit commitment decisions differ from those costs it sought to recover from customers and discusses how that discrepancy is driving uneconomic unit commitment decisions. Ms. Glick calculates excess costs that are passed on to ratepayers as a result and makes recommendations as to how Duke can improve its unit commitment process.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Devi Glick Regarding DEC's Dispatch and Commitment of Coal-Fired PlantsDirect Testimony of Devi Glick Regarding DEC's Dispatch and Commitment of Coal-Fired Plants
Direct Testimony of Devi Glick Regarding DEC's Base Rates for Fuel Costs in South Carolina
Surrebuttal Testimony of Devi Glick Regarding DEC's Base Rates for Fuel Costs in South Carolina
Direct Testimony of Devi Glick Regarding DEC's Dispatch and Commitment of Coal-Fired Plants at Mayo and Roxboro
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2021

On behalf of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Sierra Club, Synapse conducted an in-depth evaluation of Mississippi’s EnergyWise low-income energy efficiency pilot program. The EnergyWise program is a grant-funded program in Mississippi administered by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. EnergyWise has been operating since 2015 and has helped about 700 low-income households improve their building energy use and reduce annual energy bills.

As part of this evaluation, Synapse conducted an energy savings impact evaluation of the program and assessed costs and benefits of the program, including non-energy benefits and bill savings. Synapse also conducted a survey of program participants and program implementers and identified various non-energy benefits experienced by program participants, including improved comfort and safety, improved ability to pay for food and other necessities, and reduced illness. We documented our findings in a report to support the continuation or expansion of the EnergyWise program. Further, Synapse reviewed Mississippi Power Company (MPC)’s low-income program called SELECT and identified specific aspects of the program that could be incorporated into MPC’s SELECT program.

Related Publication(s)
Evaluation of EnergyWise Low-Income Energy Efficiency Program in Mississippi
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2021

Synapse assisted Sierra Club with comments on Mississippi Power's 2021 Integrated Resource Plan. These comments identify areas in which Mississippi Power’s IRP failed to advance the goals of protecting ratepayers, providing transparency, and operating a well-planned and efficient electricity system. To address these flaws, Sierra Club and Synapse made the following recommendations:

• Mississippi Power should accelerate the retirement of Plant Daniel, an uneconomic coal plant that the utility currently plans to operate until 2027.

• Mississippi Power should devote more funding to energy efficiency and demand-side management programs that help customers use energy more efficiently - saving money and helping the environment in the long term. Mississippi Power’s commitment to low-income energy efficiency programs pales in comparison to other jurisdictions with comparable high energy burdens and high poverty rates.

• The Commission should revise the IRP rule to require greater transparency and opportunity for public input because utilities will not do so without a stronger mandate. Greater transparency and opportunities for public engagement would strengthen Mississippi’s IRP process and center customers in the process.

Related Publication(s)
Sierra Club Comments Regarding MPCs IRP - June 2021
Sierra Club Comments Regarding MPCs IRP - March 2021
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2021

On behalf of the Sierra Club, Synapse prepared a written technical report addressing the consistency of NRG Energy's proposed Astoria Gas Turbine Replacement Project with New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and a technical evaluation of NRG’s identified justifications for the project. The report addressed whether adding new fossil fuel generation is consistent with the CLCPA’s mandate that New York achieve 100 percent zero-emission generation by 2040. In addition, the report evaluated NRG’s proffered justifications regarding:

  • reliability (in light of recently approved local and bulk transmission upgrades);
  • cost implications;
  • localized air emissions;
  • facilitating renewable integration over relevant time scales; and
  • provision of black start capability.
Related Publication(s)
The Proposed New Astoria Combustion Turbine Generator and New York State’s Clean Energy Future
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2021, 2020, 2019

Synapse supported Sierra Club in its engagement in Arizona Public Service (APS) and Tucson Electric Power’s (TEP) Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process. Over the course of the last two years, Synapse attended and participated in many IRP workshops and stakeholder sessions on behalf of the Sierra Club. Synapse also prepared several presentations to the Commission and utilities with recommendations for improving APS and TEP's IRPs. Finally, Synapse assisted in the development of several rounds of comments on both APS and TEP’s IRPs. These comments identified areas in which TEP and APS respectively failed to advance the goals of protecting ratepayers, providing transparency, and operating a well-planned and efficient electricity system.

Synapse and Sierra Club recommendations to APS focused on the following topics:

  • APS should develop a more reasonable load forecast that incorporates COVID impacts and corrects the historical pattern of over forecasting load
  • APS should better justify its modeling assumptions and decisions that continue to systematically favor new gas resources and disadvantage renewables, and the Company should not be able to add any new gas resources in the near term based on its current modeling.
  • APS should conduct a study that properly models the economics of retiring the Four Corners Coal plant early and paying out the remaining coal contract relative to retiring it early and replacing it with clean energy resources.
  • APS should properly reflect the costs and risks associated with future environmental regulations, including the coal combustion residuals and effluent limitation guideline rules, and the risk of water shortages.

Synapse and Sierra Club recommendations to TEP focus on the following topics:

  • TEP should improve its modeling tools and employ optimized capacity expansion modeling.
  • TEP should demonstrate how it will reduce its reliance on fossil resources in light of the substantial quantity of new gas resources it produced just prior to the IRP.
  • TEP should utilize gas prices that are higher and more aligned with those forecasted by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook (AEO).
Related Publication(s)
Sierra Club Comments on Arizona Public Service's 2020 IRP
Sierra Club Comments on Tucson Electric Power’s 2020 Integrated Resource Plan
Client:
Maryland Office of People’s Counsel
Year:
2021

The Maryland Office of People’s Counsel retained Synapse to provide expert witness testimony on the multi-year rate plan proposed by Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco). This included an examination of capital planning processes, proposed performance incentive mechanisms, and recommendations for tracking metrics.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Melissa Whited in reviewing Pepco's proposed multi-year rate plan
Surrebuttal of Melissa Whited in reviewing Pepco's proposed rate plan
Client:
New Hampshire Office of the Consumer Advocate
Year:
2021

Synapse was retained by the New Hampshire Office of the Consumer Advocate to provide expert witness services in proceedings related to energy efficiency, grid modernization, rate design, least-cost integrated resource planning, revenue decoupling, alternative regulation, and more.

In docket DE-21-030, Melissa Whited and Ben Havumaki testified regarding Unitil's proposed rate increase for the residential class, multi-year rate plan, revenue decoupling mechanism, and grid modernization investments.

Related Publication(s)
Testimony of Melissa Whited and Ben Havumaki Regarding Unitil's Request for Change in Rates
Client:
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
Year:
2021

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency hired Synapse to assess the financial condition of Exelon's Illinois nuclear fleet following the announcement by Exelon that it intends to shutdown the Byron and Dresden nuclear stations starting in September 2021. The information from this financial audit will help inform legislative action regarding how the state should respond to the announced closure timeline.

For this project, Synapse incorporated a Monte Carlo simulation that encompassed distribution and probabilities of revenues and costs for the Byron, Dresden, Braidwood, and LaSalle plants over the next five and 10 years.

Through this analysis, Synapse found the following:

  • The Byron plant has a five-year expected net present value (NPV) of $31 million using Exelon’s discount rate. Our Monte Carlo analysis found that 95 percent of the iterations will be above an NPV of -$30 million.
  • The Dresden plant has a five-year expected NPV of -$87 million using Exelon’s discount rate. Our Monte Carlo analysis found that 95 percent of the iterations will be above a net present value of -$139 million.

Synapse recommends that Illinois develop a program that offers financial support for the Byron and Dresden plants only when the plants require this support. This program need not extend beyond five years and could be re-evaluated at the end of the five-year period.

Related Publication(s)
Financial Audit of Exelon's Illinois Nuclear Power Plants
Client:
Minnesota Department of Commerce
Year:
2021

The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources retained Synapse to support its exploration of privacy and security issues related to Minnesota utilities’ hosting capacity analyses (HCA) and distribution grid data. As with other jurisdictions modernizing the grid, Minnesota seeks to balance the data access needed to support distributed energy resource (DER) uptake with maintaining a secure grid that protects the privacy of customers.

 Xcel Energy (Xcel), Minnesota’s largest electricity provider, has made its HCA available via an online map, but blurs the display of the data in a way that does not reveal discrete circuits, and provides less system information. Xcel claims that an unblurred map would make the distribution grid unnecessarily vulnerable to attack and would jeopardize customer security and confidentiality.

Synapse wrote a report stating that Xcel should unblur its HCA map and place it behind a verified web login portal that is open to the public. In reaching this conclusion, Synapse noted that:

  • Location information on distribution facilities is likely already in the public domain
  • Various tools exist to help map distribution lines
  • Providing distribution line information provides significant value to DER developers
  • Focusing on strengthening the grid’s physical and cybersecurity defenses, and increasing grid resiliency, is more effective at deterring attackers than concealing information.

For sensitive grid data, such as peak substation and feeder loads, which is currently not provided on the HCA map, Synapse recommended applying a risk/cost-benefit framework to balance grid security with the public benefits of HCA map data. The framework could help determine whether specific, sensitive grid data should be published on its HCA map, and how secure access to this data should be provided. Synapse suggested that Xcel consider a tiered-access approach that helps streamline access to non-public grid data and does not make requirements unnecessarily burdensome.

Related Publication(s)
Hosting Capacity Analysis and Distribution Grid Data Security
Client:
Energy Outreach Colorado
Year:
2021

On behalf of Energy Outreach Colorado, Synapse submitted testimony regarding the impact of Public Service Company of Colorado's proposal to eliminate inclining block rates (IBR). Synapse's analysis revealed that inclining block rates are more cost-reflective than flat rates, and that eliminating IBR would have disproportionately negative impacts on low-income customers, as these customers tend to have lower usage than average. Further, Synapse's testimony supported empowering customers to better manage their electricity bills by providing customers with cost-reflective rate options. 

Related Publication(s)
Cross-Answer Testimony of Melissa Whited
Answering Testimony of Melissa Whited
Client:
Sandia National Laboratories
Year:
2021

In 2019, Sandia National Laboratories contracted Synapse Energy Economics to improve understanding and provide guidance on the challenges and opportunities facing communities and electric utilities seeking to coordinate energy-related resilience efforts. The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and conducted as part of the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium’s Designing Resilient Communities: A Consequence-Based Approach for Grid Investment (DRC) project. Synapse was one of several government, industry, and university partners on the project team and provided expertise on electric utility regulation.

Synapse produced a series of five reports exploring several important topics related to its area of focus, including:

  • Current landscape: structured interviews with six community and utility pairs to better characterize the existing state of resilience planning within and across jurisdictions and identify opportunities for improvement;
  • Benefit-cost analysis for grid investments in resilience: the first application of the framework developed in the 2020 National Standard Practice Manual for Benefit-Cost Analysis of Distributed Energy Resources to grid resilience investments;
  • Resilience performance metrics: guidance for jurisdictions to take the important step of defining and establishing performance metrics for resilience;
  • Resilient public purpose microgrids: definition of the term and characterization of five project types that may be more likely to receive ratepayer funding; and
  • Regulatory mechanisms to support resilience: mechanisms that electric utility regulators can use to align grid resilience investments with resilience interests and priorities.
Related Publication(s)
The Resilience Planning Landscape for Communities and Electric Utilities
Application of a Standard Approach to Benefit-Cost Analysis for Electric Grid Resilience Investments
Performance Metrics to Evaluate Utility Resilience Investments
Excel Tool: Performance Metrics to Evaluate Utility Resilience Investments
Regulatory Mechanisms to Enable Investments in Electric Utility Resilience
The Quest for Public Purpose Microgrids for Resilience: Considerations for Regulatory Approval
Client:
Colorado Energy Office
Year:
2021

Synapse authored a white paper for the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) in support of CEO's participation in rule-making and dockets around planning for the future of gas utilities in the state. Colorado has taken important first steps to require a transformation in the gas sector in order to reduce emissions, and the white paper proposes using an observe-orient-decide-act framework to foster iteration and learning, while also reflecting the fact that decisions need to be made without complete information about the final state of building decarbonization. Synapse's team adapted a change management paradigm to identify the key considerations for gas planning and map them onto the expected rule-making, plans, and other processes in Colorado.

Related Publication(s)
A Framework for Long-Term Gas Utility Planning in Colorado
Client:
Natural Resources Defense Council
Year:
2021

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) retained Synapse to analyze the macroeconomic impacts of light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) standards and zero emission vehicle (ZEV) policies in the state of Illinois. We assessed the likely employment and GDP impacts in Illinois for three policy scenarios: (1) adoption of low emission vehicle (LEV) tailpipe standards for criteria pollutants and GHGs, and ZEV regulations; (2) the LEV standards with increased ZEV penetration that achieves Governor Pritzker’s goal of 750,000 ZEVs by 2030; and (3) the LEV standards with further ZEV penetration that achieves 100 percent ZEV sales by 2035. Our analysis found that each of the three policy scenarios is likely to result in small but positive long-term macroeconomic impacts in Illinois and that employment and GDP benefits grow as each policy scenario becomes more aggressive in its assumed number of LEVs and ZEVs in Illinois.

Related Publication(s)
Macroeconomic Analysis of Clean Vehicle Policy Scenarios for Illinois
Client:
Maryland Office of People’s Counsel
Year:
2021

Synapse provided the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel (OPC) with technical assistance in evaluating the likely impacts on Maryland ratepayers from pursuing the fixed resource requirement (FRR) alternative to continued participation in PJM's capacity market. The FRR alternative is the main avenue for states to avoid the negative impacts of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC's) controversial minimum offer price rule (MOPR) order on the development of renewable resources and the cost to achieve state clean energy goals.

As part of this work, Synapse developed a three-step framework for assessing the potential impacts of the FRR alternative. The framework was proposed to evaluate the economic and financial trade-offs between the FRR alternative and continued participation in PJM's capacity market and the state regulatory and legislative actions that may be necessary to support pursuit of the FRR alternative. This included evaluating the potential benefits and costs to Maryland ratepayers from pursuit of the FRR alternative and an assessment of the legislative and regulatory actions necessary to pursue the FRR option if the benefits are determined to exceed the costs. As part of this effort, Synapse conducted in-depth analysis on the benefits and costs associated with FRR, including changes in cost to meet clean energy goals, changes in capacity procurement quantities, and market power impacts.

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