Synapse was retained to assist the Arkansas Public Service Commission Staff on issues related to electric policy initiatives on both a state and regional level. Specific tasks included a review of the proposed purchase of a merchant generation facility by the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation; a review of the Southwest Power Pool’s application to be named the regional transmission provider; and an analysis of regional energy planning processes. Project completed in May 2006.
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Surrebuttal Testimony Regarding Review of Wrightsville Facility Purchase
Bruce Biewald presented “Electricity Price Increases: Causes, Effects, and Solutions” at the Restructuring Roundtable on May 19, 2006. The presentation focused on the electricity price increases for small customers in New England.
Synapse advised clients in Illinois on alternatives for procuring power to serve default customers after the “transition period” provided for in the State’s restructuring law. Synapse presented testimony addressing a proposal by Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) to use a clearing price auction to procure wholesale power for default customers.
We evaluated the Company's proposal, examining issues of market power in the wholesale electricity markets, market power in retail provision of electricity, acquisition of generation supply, and the management of a resource portfolio to provide bundled generation service to residential and small commercial customers.
We found that, while offering hypothetical benefits to customers, overall the proposal was too narrowly tailored, failed to provide necessary consumer protections, and cut off Commission review of a broad range of options that should be considered as Illinois emerges from the transition period.
Additionally, Synapse proposed alternatives for how the proposed auction process could be improved, should the Commission decide to authorize a similar mechanism to that proposed by ComEd. Testimony was presented before the Illinois Commerce Commission by witnesses Fagan and Steinhurst in docket 05-0159. Project completed in August 2006.
Illinois Post-2006 Procurement Process: How to Serve Bundled Utility Service Customers ‒ Paper
Direct Testimony of William Steinhurst Evaluating Electricity Procurement for Serving Retail Load in Illinois
Direct Testimony of Robert Fagan Evaluating Electricity Procurement for Serving Retail Load in Illinois
Rebuttal Testimony of William Steinhurst Evaluating Electricity Procurement for Serving Retail Load in Illinois
Rebuttal Testimony of Robert Fagan Evaluating Electricity Procurement for Serving Retail Load in Illinois
Rebuttal Testimony Exhibits of Robert Fagan Evaluating Electricity Procurement for Serving Retail Load in Illinois
Rick Hornby, Ezra Hausman, and Anna Sommer presented “Electricity Supply Prices in Deregulated Markets – The Problem and Potential Responses” at the NASUCA Mid-Year Meeting on June 13, 2006.
Synapse participated in a collaborative process to develop energy efficiency programs for Nevada Power Company and Sierra Pacific Power Company. The work included developing policies to support utility energy efficiency programs, developing mechanisms to account for the environmental and economic benefits of energy efficiency, and designing energy efficiency programs with an emphasis on low-income programs. Project completed in August 2006.
Bruce Biewald presented “Energy Portfolio Management Tools and Resources for Regulators” at the NARUC Annual Convention in Miami, Florida on November 15, 2006. The presentation draws from Synapse’s 2006 report Energy Portfolio Management: Tools and Resources for State Public Utility Commissions, prepared for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), the Energy Foundation, the Department of Energy, and NYSERDA. The report describes portfolio management; data, models, and tools for portfolio management; expertise and staffing for managers and regulators; next steps for regulators; and portfolio management activities in selected states.
Synapse prepared a high level thought paper, presenting the important issues and trends in the energy sector in the Northern Forest Region, a 34 county area stretching from Oswego, NY, across northern Vermont and New Hampshire, to eastern coastal Maine. The paper was written to be thought provoking, to raise critical issues and opportunities that will frame stakeholder dialogue, further analytical study and decision-making for the next phases in the development of the economic adjustment strategy, and to identify and choose among sustainable development options and recommendations in the Northern Forest region. It introduced the important issues, trends, priorities and realities of the energy sector in the 34-county region and set them in context with energy issues and trends from relevant regions elsewhere in the nation. The paper was future oriented, synthesizing key issues and concepts drawn from data and the conclusions of previous analytical work, including detailed economic modeling studies previously conducted by Synapse to measure employment and air pollution impacts of regional strategies for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Project completed in May 2006.
Synapse assisted Office of the People's Counsel for the District of Columbia Staff in the development of positions on various issues in EPAct 2005. Project completed September 2006.
Synapse evaluated the purchases and sales transactions of Public Service of Indiana; in particular, the treatment of those transactions under the "Joint Generation and Dispatch Agreement" under which the Cinergy system operated until April 2005. The results of an initial evaluation were presented in a “verified statement” of Bruce Biewald filed with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in Cause No. 42359. Subsequently, more in-depth evaluations were conducted and those results were presented in the testimonies of Robert Fagan filed with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in Cause Nos. 41954, 42895, and 38707 FAC 61S1. Project completed in February 2006.
Proposed Termination of the Cinergy Operating Agreement
Synapse performed a costs and benefits assessment of one part of proposed legislation to increase the system benefit charge for energy efficiency spending in Maine from 1.4 mils/kWh to 3.0 mils/kWh. Bob Fagan of Synapse testified before the Utilities and Energy Joint Committee of the Maine legislature on the issue. Synapse demonstrated the net economic benefits of increasing the charge and urged the committee to pass the legislation. Project completed in March 2006.
Synapse provided research and consulting support to PSC Staff in the preparation of an energy policy study mandated by an Executive Order of the Governor. Project completed in April 2006.
Bruce Biewald presented “Forecasting and Using Carbon Prices in a World of Uncertainty” at the Electric Utilities Environmental Conference in Tucson, Arizona in January 2006.
In 2006, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) voted to allow Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) to use an auction system to purchase power. In preparation for Illinois’ first auction in January 2007, Synapse performed market analyses to forecast the auction’s likely results. In performing this analysis, Synapse considered the various components that comprise electricity prices, including load cycles, capacity costs, ancillary services such as spinning reserves, anticipated congestion costs or costs of FTRs to hedge congestion risk, other risk costs, and price effects of the PJM Reliability Pricing Model (RPM). Project completed in September 2006.
Synapse provided testimony on performance based ratemaking and other rate design issues, including issues affecting incentives for customers to use electricity efficiently. Project completed in November 2006.
Direct Testimony Addressing Green Mountain Power Alternative Regulation Plan for Conservation Law Foundation
Prefiled Surrebuttal Testimony Addressing Green Mountain Power Alternative Regulation Plan for Conservation Law Foundation
Anna Sommer presented “IGCC – A Public Interest Perspective” to the Energy, Utility, and Environment Conference in Tucson, Arizona in January 2006.
Synapse assisted the Tallahassee electric company in preparing an integrated resource plan. We played an advisory role to the electric company planners in four ways:
- reviewing the potential for demand-side management,
- assisting in developing strategies to assess large amounts of energy efficiency and renewable resources,
- developing methods to account for environmental factors, including CO2 emissions, and
- developing methods for evaluating and selecting among different electricity resource options.
Project completed in September 2006.
Synapse provided technical consulting to NRRI in the preparation of a report on the factors regulators should understand and consider when deliberating on the selection between generation technologies. Project completed in December 2006.
Ezra Hausman presented “Liquefied Natural Gas: Current Trends and Future Directions” at the ASPO Boston World Oil Conference on October 26, 2006. The presentation covered the basics of LNG, current and future sources of LNG, global competition for LNG, U.S. natural gas production, security issues, and U.S. untapped reserves.
Synapse worked with Resource Insight to analyze the market power implications of a proposed merger. Synapse ran the CASM model to estimate the Herfindahl-Hirschman Indexes for various scenarios with and without the merger. Project completed in March 2006.
Synapse assisted the Attorney Generation in Michigan by reviewing the Resource Conservation Plan for purchases from Midland Cogeneration Venture Limited Partnership in Michigan. Project completed in November 2006.
Synapse teamed with Sargent & Lundy to evaluate a set of supply- and demand-side technologies to replace or complement power flowing to Southern California Edison (SCE) from the coal-fired Mohave Generating Station in southern Nevada. The consultant team reported to a group of stakeholders including SCE, consumer and environmental advocates, the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe. Technologies evaluated included IGCC with and without carbon capture and sequestration, wind, various solar technologies, and a unique option comprised of DSM procurement in nearby states coupled with a power purchase of “freed up” supply imported into California. Synapse was responsible for development and characterization of the DSM procurement option, as well as estimates of projected fuel prices, output profiles, emission costs, economics of carbon sequestration, various tribal issues, and employment impacts on and off the affected reservations. Project completed in February 2006.
Synapse provided UCS with information and analysis of the expected costs of nuclear power plants in the United States. Project completed December 2006.
As a result of the settlement agreement approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that allowed ISO-New England to develop and administer a Forward Capacity Market for New England, a potential new revenue stream for utility DSM programs was created. This created many new decisions for regulators regarding how programs should participate in the market and how the resulting revenues should be used. Synapse prepared a paper providing background and setting forth some of the options for regulators and program administrators.
Synapse was asked to examine whether the co-owners of the proposed Big Stone II had demonstrated that the demand for electricity cannot be met more cost effectively through energy conservation and load-management measures or through renewable resources. The testimony filed by Synapse found that the Big Stone II co-owners had not adequately considered the risks associated with building a new coal-fired generating unit in their modeling analyses, including the risk of future greenhouse gas regulations, the potential for further increases in the Project’s capital cost, and the potential for fuel supply disruptions that could affect plant operating performance and fuel costs. Synapse’s testimony also found that the Big Stone II co-owners had not shown that their demand for electricity cannot be met more cost effectively through energy conservation and load-management measures or through renewable resources. This portion of the project was completed in 2006.
Direct Testimony of Ezra Hausman Regarding the Evaluation of Proposed Big Stone II Generating Facility
Direct Testimony of David Schlissel and Anna Sommer Regarding the Evaluation of Proposed Big Stone II Generating Facility
Direct Testimony of Tim Woolf Regarding the Evaluation of Proposed Big Stone II Generating Facility
Direct Testimony of Michael Drunsic Regarding the Evaluation of Proposed Big Stone II Generating Facility
Rebuttal Testimony of Robert Fagan Regarding the Evaluation of Proposed Big Stone II Generating Facility
Testimony Errata of David Schlissel and Anna Sommer Regarding the Evaluation of Proposed Big Stone II Generating Facility
Synapse reviewed service quality issues associated with proposed merger of utilities. Project completed in December 2006.
Assessment of Proposed Merger of Peoples Energy Corporation and WPS Resources Rebuttal Testimony
Synapse was hired by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) to conduct an analysis and write a report on electricity portfolio management. Specifically, the paper critiques available models used for portfolio management and resource acquisition and provides advice for regulators on how to choose and utilize such models in making regulatory decisions. Measures for evaluating risks and hedging strategies are discussed, with an emphasis on the perspective of customers and regulators. Project completed in September 2006.
Portfolio Management: Tools and Practices for Regulators
Energy Portfolio Management: Tools and Resources for Regulators
Synapse assisted Element Markets with an assessment of state policies to promote renewable resources and associated market issues. Project completed March 2006.
Synapse collaborated with the Pace Energy Project to evaluate New York State's Distributed Generation (DG) Pilot Program. The pilot project was conducted from 2002 to 2004. Through this procedure, New York utilities put selected distribution system projects out to bid among DG developers to determine whether DG could provide the service at a lower cost than the project proposed by the utility. Of the DG bids offered, none were selected as the least-cost alternative to distribution projects.
In the fall of 2004, NYSERDA hired Pace and Synapse to evaluate the results of the three-year pilot program, assess the program's effectiveness in meeting pilot program objectives, and to identify and evaluate alternative approaches for procuring DG as a distribution system resource. Pace and Synapse made recommendations to improve the DG procurement process based on our independent assessment of the DG Pilot experience, as well as based on a review of similar efforts to integrate DG in transmission and distribution system planning across the United States. The report was completed in August 2006.
On behalf of the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Synapse reviewed a number of aspects of the proposed Duke-Cinergy merger to gauge its impact on PSI's retail ratepayers. The analysis included a comparison of existing ratepayer protections in place since the 1994 merger that created Cinergy, a critique of the proposed merger savings allocation between ratepayers and shareholders, and recommendations for PSI to strengthen energy efficiency commitments and maintain customer service and reliability post-merger. Testimony was filed before the Indiana Utility and Regulatory Commission on November 8, 2005. Project completed in January 2006.
Synapse represented the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers 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 encompasses 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 2006.
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