Synapse assisted RAP in evaluating the effects of recent state policies relating to renewable energy and energy efficiency on air emissions and the regional economy. The work, conducted for the U.S. EPA, included estimating the effect of programs such as utility efficiency funding and renewable portfolio standards since 2000, including avoided air emissions and impacts on regional jobs, income, and output. Project completed in June 2005.
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Electric Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in New England: An Assessment of Existing Policies and Prospects for the Future
Synapse assisted New Brunswick Power in developing avoided costs for proposed energy efficiency programs. The programs were intended to be supported with a system benefits charge and to be implemented by an independent energy efficiency utility in New Brunswick. The analysis included a review of production cost model results, avoided energy costs, avoided capacity costs, avoided transmission and distribution costs, and consideration of greenhouse gas emission reduction credits. The analysis also included an assessment of the potential rate impacts of the efficiency programs. Project completed in March 2005.
Synapse prepared expert testimony regarding the avoided costs of wind generation in South Dakota. The project included the review and critique of avoided costs proposed by Montana-Dakota Utilities Company, as well as the review and critique of alternative avoided cost assumptions proposed by the wind developer. The testimony covered many aspects of avoided costs, including production cost modeling of energy costs, determination of the appropriate capacity value for wind generation, costs associated with integrating wind into an electricity system, and accounting for the costs of future climate change regulations. Direct testimony was submitted to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission on February 18, 2005.
Synapse prepared testimony that addressed the proposed allowed return on equity (ROE) and rate of amortization for Central Vermont Public Service Corporation (CVPS). Synapse determined the appropriate ROE for CVPS by using the discounted cash flow (DCF) and CAPM models. The Company originally requested a 5.0 percent rate increase, although it later reduced its requested increase to 2.9 percent. In the end, the Board accepted Synapse’s ROE recommendation in full. As a result Vermont customers’ rates were reduced by approximately 1.88 percent commencing April 1, 2005. Project completed in April 2005.
Synapse was retained by the Sierra Club to assist in its litigation concerning the Stuart Station coal-fired generating facility in Ohio. Project completed in 2005.
Synapse contributed four chapters to EPA's guidebook of policies that states can implement to advance clean energy activities. These chapters address:
- integrating energy efficiency and renewables into air quality planning,
- integrating energy efficiency and renewables into state and regional energy planning,
- identifying and describing the financial incentive (and disincentive) mechanisms for clean energy and energy efficiency associated with state-level ratemaking structures for electric and gas utilities, and
- the role of clean energy in integrated resource planning and portfolio management.
The guidebook can be found on the EPA's website here: http://epa.gov/cleanenergy/stateandlocal/guidetoaction.htm.
Project completed in December 2005.
Synapse prepared comments for use by TURN; a pre-workshop memorandum on the California PUC's proposal titled "An Incentive Framework for Utility Procurement of Energy Resources Modeled After Cap-and-Trade Principles of the Sky Trust," issued as Appendix B to the PUC's 4/6/04 Order Initiating Rulemaking (OIR). Synapse also considered the OIR itself, the ALJ's scheduling ruling of 11/23/2005, and the "Addendum to the Sky Trust Proposal: Alternative Approaches to Elements of the Policy Framework" of 2/3/2005. Synapse considered the strengths and weaknesses of the Proposal at a conceptual level and a nuts-and-bolts level. The proposal set out one model for a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and certain alternatives to that model. The proposed system was described as applying to the resource selection and management the state's electric IOUs, to the natural gas distribution companies, or both. The documents briefly alluded to additional financial incentives for IOUs that related various ways to the proposed cap-and-trade system. Synapse's comments primarily related to the proposed cap-and-trade system as applied to an electric IOU and the financial incentive issue. Project completed in February 2005.
Synapse advised Public Service Commission Staff in Delaware on alternatives for procuring power to serve default customers as provided for in the State's restructuring law and assisted the PSC Staff in the conduct of a multi-party workshop process considering those alternatives. Synapse examined issues of acquisition of generation supply and the management of a resource portfolio to provide bundled generation service to residential, commercial, and industrial customers and assisted staff in successful multi-party settlement negotiations. Project completed in September 2005.
Synapse provided an economic valuation of the Bellows Falls hydroelectric facility as of April 2004 for the Town of Rockingham, VT. Project completed in March 2005.
Synapse analyzed proposed changes to Green Mountain Power's electric rate designs. William Steinhurst prepared testimony recommending the modification of tariffs for residential customers to improve fairness and encourage energy efficiency. Project completed in June 2005.
Prefiled Surrebuttal Testimony Analyzing Proposed Changes to Green Mountain Power Electric Rate Designs
Bruce Biewald presented “Energy Efficiency in the Northeast” at the ACEEE National Conference on Efficiency as a Resource in Berkeley, California in September 2005.
With a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, Synapse performed a feasibility study of opportunities for advanced energy efficiency and alternative energy technologies. The overall goal of the study was to develop a list of technologies that will eventually be provided through low-income efficiency programs currently offered in Massachusetts. The study first addressed a list of all renewable technologies and emerging efficiency technologies that might be applicable to single-family and multi-family homes in Massachusetts. Synapse then screened these technologies on the basis of costs, savings, cost-effectiveness and applicability to develop a priority list of potential technologies. Those technologies remaining on the priority list were reviewed further for implementation issues related to low-income housing. Project completed in June 2005.
Synapse investigated the impact that converting the four unit Danskammer generating facility to closed-cycle cooling would have on Dynegy's net pre-tax earnings from the sale of the facility's energy and capacity. Project completed in December 2005.
Synapse assisted the OPC in addressing many issues regarding the implementation of the renewable portfolio standard law in Maryland. Some of the key issues included the development of the Generator Attribute Tracking System at PJM, ensuring that necessary information is provided and processed appropriately, mitigating any market power problems in the renewable energy credit market, establishing appropriate compliance requirements, and ensuring that the requirements of the RPS law are met. Project completed in August 2005.
Synapse Energy Economics and the Regulatory Assistance Project, under a contract with the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), undertook to survey state policy on rates for partial requirements customers. We reviewed more than a dozen states, diverse both in their geography and in the structures of their electric industries. Through review of regulatory proceedings, tariffs, publications, and interviews, we identified a number of approaches to stand-by and associated rates that deserve policymakers' attention if they aim to promote the deployment of cost-effective distributed generation in their states. Project completed in December 2005.
Synapse assisted the General Staff of the Arkansas Public Service Commission to address resource planning and power procurement issues. Synapse reviewed the filings made by each of the four investor-owned electric utilities in Arkansas for compliance. As part of this review, Synapse evaluated each utility’s financial and production costing models, energy supply forecasting, demand analysis, load forecasting, and other pertinent data and issues. Project completed in June 2005.
Synapse assisted the NJ DRC with a technology and metering study focusing on residential and small commercial customers. The study was designed to look at the electricity use behaviors of four different groups of customers with various rates, metering technologies, and educational materials. Synapse helped select the technology vendors and the particular technologies that were evaluated. Synapse also helped determine the data to collect and evaluate in assessing experimental results. Project completed in September 2005.
Synapse analyzed different methods to estimate emission reductions from energy efficiency measures and renewable energy generation. Building on previous work for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Synapse evaluated methods that rely on power system dispatch models and methods that rely on simplifying assumptions to estimate emission reductions. The project objective was to help state and local air officials determine the best method for estimating emission reductions in a given situation, given key characteristics of the local power system and the amount of resources available for this assessment. Project completed in July 2005.
Amy Roschelle presented “New Jersey’s Proposed 20% Renewable Portfolio Standard: How to link NJ RPS benefits with NJ BGS portfolio management benefits” on February 22, 2005.
Synapse assisted ELPC in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission docket on Exelon’s proposal for an Early Site Permit for the construction of a new nuclear generating unit at the Clinton site. Synapse reviewed Exelon’s analysis of alternatives to the proposed action, the environmental impacts of the various alternatives, and the relevant sections of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Project completed in May 2005.
Synapse evaluated the technical and economic issues related to Pacific Gas and Electric’s decision to replace the steam generators at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. Project completed in May 2005.
Synapse provided the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate for 2004-2005 with technical and policy analyses, reports, and staff support for numerous issues related to the PJM control area. Synapse addressed resource adequacy, demand response programs, generation retirement, regional planning, cost allocation of new transmission and generation projects, and cost impacts of PJM proposals on retail consumers. Synapse attended meetings on behalf of PA OCA and provided further assistance in developing specific options and positions for FERC proceedings. Project completed in June 2005.
The New England Power Pool recently opened its governance structure to allow non-profits and other customer representatives to become voting members. UCS, along with a coalition of public interest groups, hired Synapse to represent consumer and environmental interests by participating in committee discussions and voting on key issues. Project completed in 2005.
Clean energy projects added to the electric power grid can reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the power system and qualify for carbon reduction credit under the UNFCCC's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Our analysis of methods for quantifying the amount of carbon reduction credit to attribute to such projects included examination of "build margin" vs. "operating margin" (and combined) approaches, as well as the impact of project size, project timing, project output variability, and other factors. Project completed in October 2005.
Synapse assisted the Department with the development of regulations for a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in New Brunswick. One phase of the project included drafting regulations that will cover all aspects of the RPS, including the definition of eligible resources, the renewable target, treatment of imports, compliance mechanisms, generation information systems, and monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. Another phase of the project included conducting an economic analysis of different RPS proposals. This analysis included a comprehensive assessment of the cost and availability of renewable resources in the region, especially wind generation. It also included an assessment of the demand for renewables, a forecast of wholesale market prices, and an estimate of the renewable premiums associated with different RPS proposals. The economic analysis also identified the likely impact of different renewable portfolio standards on electricity prices. Project completed in December 2005.
Synapse developed a report on the impact of PJM’s proposed Reliability Pricing Model (RPM) on Exelon nuclear facilities' capacity revenues in northern Illinois. At the request of Illinois Citizens Utility Board (CUB), Synapse analyzed the current capacity revenues earned by Exelon’s nuclear fleet in Illinois and compared those revenues to the historical six-year average prices for capacity in PJM and to the RPM “target price” as defined by a benchmark proxy peaker unit. The analysis showed that the capacity revenues for Exelon’s nuclear units in northern Illinois would increase from $100 million (2005) to over $500 million annually under RPM, on average, and that annual earnings under RPM for a single year could be as high as $1.2 billion under extreme scarcity conditions. Project completed in August 2005.
Synapse represented the DPUC Staff in a collaborative process to oversee and provide input concerning energy efficiency programs offered by National Grid, the state's primary electric utility. This work encompassed all aspects of energy efficiency program design and implementation, including efficiency measure assessment, program delivery options, program budgeting, cost-benefit analyses, utility performance incentives, and other relevant regulatory policies. Project completed in December 2005.
Synapse examined the subsidies and hidden costs associated with the operation of the Indian Point nuclear reactors. At the request of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC), Synapse reviewed existing literature to identify and, where possible, quantify the federal and local subsidies and environmental and health costs affecting Indian Point. Project completed in May 2005.
Synapse surveyed electricity procurement in states and Canadian provinces with a focus on how to address affiliate participation in a solicitation by a regulated utility to purchase power. Codes of conduct and affiliate transaction rules were examined. We attempted to distill "best practices" from the set of current industry approaches. Project completed in December 2005.
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