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Client:
Maine Office of the Public Advocate
Year:
2019, 2018

Consulted on issues concerning utility rate proposals that seek to establish incentives to create non-wires alternatives to transmission and distribution investments.

 

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Melissa Whited on Utility Incentives for Non-Wires Alternatives
Client:
Southern Environmental Law Center
Year:
2019, 2018

In 2018, Duke Energy submitted to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality its analysis of options for the closure of eight of its coal ash basins spread over six sites. The Southern Environmental Law Center commissioned Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. to review Duke’s Summary Reports and the Company’s analysis on trucking impacts, community and regional impacts, environmental impacts, and the estimated closure costs and schedules. Our resulting report describes how Duke's evaluation framework was designed to skew results in favor of its “Closure-in-Place” option, and in fact, to effectively ignore environmental impacts and risks. On April 1, 2019, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality ruled that Duke Energy must remove all ash from existing unlined landfills and move the ash to new, lined landfills.

 
 
 
Related Publication(s)
Assessment of Duke Energy’s Coal Ash Basin Closure Options Analysis in North Carolina
Client:
Year:
2019, 2018

As a continuation of previous work, Synapse provided NS UARB with consulting services on energy efficiency issues. Specific areas where Synapse provided technical support and analysis included: rate and bill impacts, non-energy benefits, methodology to determine program incentives, and benefits of location-specific efficiency targeting. As part of the project, Synapse submitted evidence on its assessment of EfficiencyOne’s proposed 2019 Demand Side Management  Resource Plan.

Related Publication(s)
Revised Comments on EfficiencyOne’s Proposed Enhancements to its Rate and Bill Impact Model
Comments on EfficiencyOne’s January 21, 2019 Locational DSM Pilot –DSMAG Update
2019 NS DSM Plan Evidence Napoleon M08604
Client:
Carr Stevenson and MacKay
Year:
2019, 2018

In 2018, Prince Edward Island Energy Corporation (PEIEC) filed an application (the Application) for approval of its 2018-2021 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan (Plan) with the Prince Edward Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (the Commission or IRAC). Carr, Stevenson, and MacKay hired Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. (Synapse) to assess the Plan, in particular whether the Plan is likely to satisfy legislative requirements. To this end, Synapse reviewed the Application, issued information requests, and sponsored an expert report. The report considered the reasonableness of PEIEC’s Plan in terms of scope, cost allocation, and projected savings, participation, costs, and benefits. The expert report built upon Synapse’s 2016 comprehensive, best practice report for PEI on energy efficiency program and policy requirements. Project completed May 2019.

Related Publication(s)
An Assessment of Prince Edward Island Energy Corporations' 2018 - 2021 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan
Client:
Environmental Defense Fund
Year:
2019, 2018, 2017

With support from Environmental Defense Fund, Synapse convened a stakeholder advisory council and provided analysis to produce a vision of Ohio’s clean energy economic opportunities. The group—comprised of business leaders, manufacturers, academics, labor representatives, non-profits, and others—produced a shared vision report of how Ohio could create new jobs and economic growth by modernizing its energy economy. Essentially a business case for clean energy growth and innovation, the vision identifies multi-billion dollar opportunities related to attracting leading corporations, transforming transportation, building and deploying clean electricity and energy efficiency, and modernizing the grid, to demonstrate why Ohio is well-positioned to lead if it takes action. The vision also highlights the risks of failing to create conditions that allow Ohio businesses to compete on the national and global levels. Synapse and the advisory group followed the release of the vision report with further stakeholder engagement and analysis, leading to a second report focused on actions that the public and private sectors can take to advance the clean energy economy in Ohio. For more information, see www.poweringohio.org.

Read the vision statement: A Vision for Growth and Innovative Energy Investment

Read the report: Powering Ohio: A path forward for energy and transportation transformation

Client:
Southern Environmental Law Center
Year:
2019, 2018

Synapse provided analysis and expert testimony on behalf of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy for North Carolina's 2018 Avoided Cost Docket, no. E-100, Sub 158. Witness Devi Glick submitted responsive testimony on the topic of Battery Storage and PURPA Avoided Cost Rates.

Related Publication(s)
Responsive Testimony of Devi Glick on Battery Storage and PURPA Avoided Cost Rates
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2019

Alabama Power requested a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to construct a new gas-fired combined cycle unit, Barry 8, and to acquire other existing gas-fired resources. Rachel Wilson submitted expert testimony to the Alabama Public Service Commission that evaluated the need for this new gas capacity and described the alternative resources that the utility should have considered as part of its analysis.

Related Publication(s)
Public Testimony of Rachel Wilson Regarding Alabama Power's Request for a CPCN
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2019

On behalf of the Sierra Club, Synapse modeled the electric system in New Mexico using the EnCompass model in both capacity expansion and production cost modes. Synapse comprehensively modeled zero-emission alternatives to a new utility-proposed gas-fired generation option intended to replace the retiring San Juan Generating Station units in New Mexico in 2023. The modeling accounts for the interconnectedness of the electric power grid in the Desert Southwest region, including detailed representation of generation units in Arizona and New Mexico (and portions of Texas and California), and aggregated treatment for resources in the rest of the West.

Synapse finds that a combination of utility-scale and small-scale solar PV, utility-scale battery storage, incremental wind resource procurements, and increased deployment of demand response will provide Public Service of New Mexico with a less-expensive, and lower-emitting alternative than its proposed gas-fired generation, while meeting all reliability requirements. Utility-scale battery storage in particular is a key part of the resource portfolio. Storage resources can be deployed incrementally to provide a firm capacity resource that can be directly controlled by the utility, charged by any grid resources, and provide valuable regulation up and down and ancillary services.

Related Publication(s)
San Juan Replacement Study
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2020, 2019

Synapse provided expert witness testimony and analysis to Sierra Club for Southwestern Public Service Company's (SPS) 2019 rate case in the states of New Mexico and Texas. The case focused on the retirement date for the Tolk Plant, which the Company was requesting be moved up based on a water shortage in the region that would limit the ability for SPS to continue economically operating the plant year-round through its current retirement date. Synapse’s testimony and analysis focused on both the recent historical and future projected economic performance of Tolk under the Company’s proposed seasonal operations plan for the plant moving forward. We also evaluated the Harrington Coal-fired Power Plant. We found that both plants are likely to lose money going forward relative to alternatives and the market, and therefore SPS should develop a plan to retire both plants. SPS has been required to update its analysis on the future operation of the Tolk Power Station.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Devi Glick in Case No. 19-00170-UT
Testimony of Devi Glick in Case No. 19-00170-UT
Direct Testimony of Devi Glick in PUC Docket No. 49831
Client:
Newfoundland and Labrador Public Utilities Board
Year:
2019, 2018

Synapse was engaged by the Newfoundland and Labrador Board to provide detailed technical support during a first-phase review of “rate mitigation” approaches associated with the impending start-up of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric generating station in Labrador.  Synapse evaluated the Province’s load forecast, the potential for beneficial electrification and more aggressive energy efficiency policies, and the amount of surplus energy available for export.  Synapse also addressed time-of-use and related rate design issues, and provided a more in-depth analysis of all issues during a second phase of work in 2019. 

Related Publication(s)
Phase 1 Findings on Muskrat Falls Project Rate Mitigation
Phase 2 Report on Muskrat Falls Project Rate Mitigation
Client:
U.S. Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
Year:
2019

In collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Synapse assisted the Advanced Manufacturing Office of the U.S. Department of Energy in developing resources to communicate the approach and value of the 50001 Ready and Superior Energy Performance programs to utilities and regulators. Synapse developed a cost-effectiveness tool and data collection template for this project. Additionally, Synapse provided technical assistance on program designs, measurement and verification, case studies, and outreach materials to encourage energy efficiency program administrators to incorporate strategic energy management programs into their commercial and industrial portfolios.

Client:
Friends of the Earth
Year:
2019

This report investigates various risk factors that could have an adverse effect on TVA’s costs and, thus, rates in the next 10 years. The purpose of this report is not to forecast future rates, as the probabilities of many uncertainties are unknown, but rather to examine the extent to which some factors could increase costs and rates above expectations. Synapse has reviewed extensive historical materials as well as forward‐looking public materials and statements about expectations and plans in order to quantify the potential impact from several cost categories. Synapse analyzed the five risk factors and roughly quantified the potential rate increases over the next 10 years. We also developed an overall estimate of the potential combined impacts for 2026 and 2031 for MLGW that represent a reasonable range of possible futures, taking into account the potential impacts for the five risk factors over the next 10 years. Our analysis concludes that there are potential rate increase risks for MLGW customers ranging from 9 percent to 34 percent per year by 2031, for a total increase of approximately $90 million to about $340 million by 2031.

Related Publication(s)
Memphis and Tennessee Valley Authority: Risk Analysis of Future TVA Rates for Memphis
Client:
Office of the People's Counsel for the District of Columbia
Year:
2020, 2019, 2018

On behalf of the Office of the People's Counsel for the District of Columbia, Synapse performed a Ward-level analysis of three future solar scenarios for the 2019-2041 timeframe. Using geospatial and economic analysis, Synapse also calculated the likely mix of private and community solar for the District, as well as the likely mix of rooftop, parking lot, and ground-mount solar through the study period. Based on the scenarios developed, Synapse recommended courses of action to help the District meet its ambitious solar carve-out goal (10% in-District solar by 2041). Finally, Synapse conducted a rate impact assessment of each solar scenario to determine which has the best impact on ratepayers in the District. Synapse recommended the District government closely monitor progress of the solar installations relative to the carve-out, as benefits are greatest if compliance is achieved early in the study period.

Related Publication(s)
Future of Solar PV in the District of Columbia: Feasibility, Projections, and Rate Impacts of the District's Expanded RPS
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2019

On behalf of the Sierra Club, Synapse analyzed the impacts of incremental policies on vehicle electrification and GHG reductions. We used MA3T, a consumer adoption model developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and EV-REDI, a stock-flow impacts model developed by Synapse, to understand the impacts of EV rebates, pollution fees, and investments in public charging infrastructure on New York's EV sales, EVs on the road, CO2 emissions, and other metrics. We found that GHG reductions of 55% by 2035 from motor vehicles are achievable and will put New York on track to achieve long-term climate commitments.

Related Publication(s)
Transforming Transportation in New York: Roadmaps to a Transportation Climate Target for 2035
Client:
E4 Group
Year:
2019

Synapse is assisting this group of consumer and environmental advocates with their goal of reducing future transmission costs in New England. Topics will include: (a) properly accounting for energy efficiency in forecasting loads for transmission planning, (b) properly accounting for non-transmission alternatives in transmission planning, (c) participating in ISO-New England’s Strategic Initiative, and (d) providing input to the New England Regional System Plan. This work includes participating in a variety of different forums, including FERC dockets, ISO-NE stakeholder processes, NEPOOL technical committees, and discussions with a variety of New England stakeholders. The E4 Group is composed of the Maine Office of the Public Advocate, Grid Solar, Environment Northeast, Conservation Law Foundation, and Maine Industrial Energy Consumers.

Related Publication(s)
Forecasting Distributed Generation Resources in New England: Distributed Generation Must Be Properly Accounted for in Regional System Planning
Challenges for Electric System Planning
2016 NECPUC Symposium Presentation
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2020, 2019

Tucson Electric Power (TEP) filed a rate case with the Arizona Corporation Commission requesting approval to place into rate base its purchase of the Gila River Unit 2 natural gas combined cycle plant and its investments in ten new reciprocating internal combustion engine (RICE) units. Synapse experts Avi Allison and Devi Glick filed testimony on behalf of Sierra Club evaluating the prudence of these purchases and assessing the economics of TEP's remaining coal units.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Avi Allison in Docket No. E-01933A-19-0028
Surrebuttal Testimony of Avi Allison in Docket No. E-01933A-19-0028
Response to Late-filed ACC Staff Testimony of Devi Glick in Docket No. E-01933A-19-0028
Client:
Energy Foundation
Year:
2018, 2017

Report on the impacts of utility investment in developing competitive markets, particularly with respect to electric vehicle infrastructure.

Related Publication(s)
Utility Investments for Market Transformation
Client:
NA
Year:
2018

Honk if...

  • You wonder if the electric grid can handle the increases in electricity consumption as more consumers purchase electric vehicles
  • You want to learn about good rate design for EVs
  • You love nerdy webinars!
 

If you honked (or rang your bicycle bell), you'll want to watch our April 2018 Third Thursday webinar on electric vehicles, featuring Synapse experts Melissa Whited and Avi Allison. 

Watch the recording here.

Related Publication(s)
Slide Deck - A Plug for Effective EV Rate Design
Client:
Year:
2018

A decade ago, urban-transportation activist (and one-time chronicler of nuclear power cost escalation) Charles Komanoff began programming “the Balanced Transportation Analyzer” — an Excel spreadsheet that synthesizes the volumes, costs, and interactivities among auto traffic, subways and buses, trucks and taxis in New York City. In fall 2017, the analytics team advising New York Governor Andrew Cuomo selected the “BTA” as its primary tool to score methods for designing a congestion-pricing plan. The report released in January 2018 by the governor’s Fix NYC task force has spurred vigorous debate, with transportation-reform advocates rallying around congestion pricing as the key policy measure to relieve chronic Manhattan traffic congestion and provide new funding to repair and revitalize the city’s ailing subways.

On February 15, 2018, Charlie joined Synapse for a webinar on congestion pricing and the BTA. His talk covered the intricacies of traffic modeling, his calculations of net benefits from congestion pricing, the implications of the New York congestion-pricing debate for urban transportation reform, and other potential applications of externality pricing (e.g., carbon taxes) in the United States.

Bruce Biewald, CEO/Founder of Synapse Energy Economics, moderated the discussion. This webinar is part of Synapse’s Third Thursday webinar series.

Watch the webinar on our YouTube channel.

Client:
AESC Study Group
Year:
2018, 2017

Avoided Energy Supply Costs in New England 2018 study materials:

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

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)
Appendix B - AESC 2018
Appendix C - AESC 2018
Appendix D - AESC 2018
Appendix J - AESC 2018
AESC 2018 Presentation of Results
The Effect of Uncleared Capacity Load Reductions on Peak Forecasts
DR Coefficient Calculator
AESC Supplemental Study Part I: Considering Winter Peak Benefits
AESC Supplemental Study Part II: Localized Transmission and Distribution Benefits Methodology
Client:
Illinois Attorney General
Year:
2018

Synapse testified on behalf of the Illinois Attorney General, recommending that Ameren should consider prioritizing low-income populations when implementing voltage optimization projects.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Max Chang regarding Ameren Voltage Optimization
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2018

Sierra Club retained Synapse Energy Economics to analyze and comment on Arizona Public Service Company's (APS) 2018 Load Forecast Report. Synapse's analysis concluded that APS's latest report continued to fail to provide adequate justification for its projection of rapid and steady load growth in the face of a decade of flat load.

Related Publication(s)
Sierra Club Comments on APS's 2018 Load Forecast Report
Client:
Washington Office of the Attorney General
Year:
2018, 2017

Synapse’s Rachel Wilson provided analysis and testimony on an Avista Corporation rate case before the Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission. Ms. Wilson evaluated Avista’s production cost modeling, which used the AuroraXMP model, to determine if its requested increase in power costs was reasonable. She found that Avista’s modeling methodology led to a sustained overestimate of annual power supply costs, as evidenced by the compounding of credit deferral balances in its Energy Recovery Mechanism. Ms. Wilson recommended that Avista recalibrate its modeling to allow the Energy Recovery Mechanism to function as intended—to capture the variability between modeled and actual power supply costs. She further recommended that Avista more fully explore the possibility of joining the Western Energy Imbalance Market, which is a real-time wholesale energy market in which participants can buy and sell energy when needed.

Related Publication(s)
Response Testimony of Rachel Wilson in Avista Rate Case
Client:
Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Year:
2018

Synapse determined the avoided costs of compliance with the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act. This work was a supplement to our 2018 AESC study. Learn more about the AESC study here.

Related Publication(s)
Analysis of the Avoided Costs of Compliance of the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act
Massachusetts GWSA Appendices
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:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
Year:
2019, 2018

Synapse prepared a Technical Brief that provides an overview of benefit-cost analysis techniques for reviewing utility proposals for grid modernization investments. The Brief is written for regulators, consumer advocates, and other stakeholders who seek to determine whether grid modernization proposals are in the public interest; especially proposals for utility-facing technologies that help advance reliability, resilience, advanced metering, and the integration of distributed energy resources. The Technical Brief addresses some of the most challenging aspects of benefit-cost analysis for grid modernization, such as determining the appropriate cost-effectiveness test to use, accounting for interactive effects between grid modernization components, and accounting for qualitative benefits. Tim Woolf presented the material in a training course for consumer advocates at the meeting of National Association of Utility Consumer Advocates in November 2018. He also presented the material at the Mid-Atlantic Distribution Systems and Planning Training with the NARUC-NASEO Task Force on Comprehensive Electricity Planning on March 8, 2019. The technical brief was published in February 2021.

Related Publication(s)
Benefit-Cost Analysis for Utility-Facing Grid Modernization Investments Training Slides
Benefit-Cost Analysis for Utility-Facing Grid Modernization Investments
Client:
Southwest Energy Efficiency Project
Year:
2018, 2017

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) conducted a study on benefits of residential heat pumps for space heating and water heating in five major cities in the Southwest. Kenji Takahashi of Synapse Energy Economics played a key advisory role assisting SWEEP with conducting the first major analysis of heat pumps against natural gas heating in the region. More specifically, he reviewed, advised, and offered recommendations on key assumptions and methodologies for evaluating energy, economic, and emissions impacts of heat pumps.

You can read the report on SWEEP's website.

Client:
Natural Resources Defense Council
Year:
2018

Electric vehicles (EVs) have the potential to provide substantial benefits to society by reducing emissions while lowering both transportation fuel costs and electricity rates. Effective EV rate design is critical for ensuring that these benefits are realized. Through rate design, electric utilities are in a unique position to ensure that EVs charge in a manner that minimizes costs to the grid, while providing customers with fuel savings relative to gasoline, which helps to drive EV adoption.

On behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Synapse evaluated EV rate design at both the state and national levels. In June 2018, Synapse released Driving Transportation Electrification Forward in New York, a report examining New York utilities’ electric vehicle rate design proposals. NRDC filed this report along with comments in Docket 18-E-0206. The Synapse team then released a similar report for Pennsylvania. A national report currently in the works will provide utilities, regulators, and other stakeholders with an overview of key issues and best practices from a national perspective.

For more Synapse work on EV rates completed on behalf of NRDC, please follow this link.

Related Publication(s)
Best Practices for Commercial and Industrial EV Rates
Driving Transportation Electrification Forward in New York
Driving Transportation Electrification Forward in Pennsylvania
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2019, 2018

Tampa Electric Company (TECO) filed an application to construct a new 1090 MW gas-fired power plant at a cost of $895 million. This so called “modernization” project sought to repower an existing steam turbine at the site of the coal- and gas-fired power plant at the Big Bend Power Station in Tampa, Florida. Synapse provided analysis and expert testimony on behalf of the Sierra Club to evaluate the need for, and impact of, the proposed plant.

Synapse found that TECO's application did not demonstrate a need for the electricity generated by this new gas plant, and made numerous dubious claims about the project’s environmental and economic benefits. Witness Bruce Biewald submitted testimony on the climate damages that will result from the construction of the gas plant. Witness Devi Glick submitted testimony assessing the electrical energy needs of TECO’s customers, and identifying ways to meet those needs through better system planning and cleaner, lower cost alternative resources.

Related Publication(s)
Big Bend Analysis
The Proposed Plant at Big Bend: A Review of Climate Impacts
Client:
California Office of the Attorney General
Year:
2018

In 2018 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a proposal to roll back existing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and tailpipe greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for light-duty vehicles to model year 2020 levels. Under the existing CAFE and GHG standards, requirements grow increasingly stringent through model year 2025. On behalf of the California Department of Justice, Synapse evaluated the macroeconomic impacts of the proposed rollback. We found that (1) the agencies' own analysis indicated that the proposed rollback would result in job losses; (2) the proposed rollback would result in reduced vehicle sales; (3) when accounting for broader economic impacts, the proposed rollback would result in greater job losses than those predicted under the agencies' analysis; and (4) the proposed rollback would negatively impact U.S. gross domestic product.

Related Publication(s)
Assessment of Macroeconomic Impacts From Federal SAFE Proposal

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