Synapse reviewed the performance-based ratemaking proposal of United Illuminating Company. This review focused on performance standards necessary to ensure that incentives to cut costs would not result in a degradation of reliability, customer services or customer satisfaction. The results were presented in the testimony of Tim Woolf before the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control, in Docket No. 01-10-10. Project completed in March 2002.
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Synapse reviewed the power procurement and risk management practices of Nevada Power Company and Sierra Pacific Power Company in the western markets for a test year that included the summer of 2001. The results of this review were presented in the testimony of Bruce Biewald (PUCN Dockets 01-11029 and 02-2002) and Paul Peterson (PUCN Docket 01-11029). Synapse concluded (a) that the Companies relied too much upon standard products (e.g., 6x16 purchase blocks), (b) that the Companies overlooked or discounted indications that market forces or regulatory actions would address high summer prices in the western markets prior to the summer of 2001, and (c) that specific forward purchases made in early 2001 had costs in excess value of $225 million (NPC) and $38 million (SPPC). Project completed in May 2002.
Exhibits of Testimony Reviewing Power Procurement and Risk Management
Synapse reviewed a proposal by the Tennessee Valley Authority and Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation to construct a new transmission line and a new distribution substation in the area of Nashville, TN. The analysis included an investigation of the need for the new line for reliability purposes, as well as an assessment of developing energy efficiency resources as an alternative to the new line. Project completed in May 2002.
Synapse reviewed Northeast Utility's proposed treatment for the $829 million it received from the sale of the Millstone nuclear power plant. The review focused on the reasonableness of a number of adjustments sought by Northeast Utility that would enable it to keep more than one-half of the sale proceeds instead of passing them through to ratepayers as a reduction in nuclear stranded costs. Project completed in January 2002.
Synapse investigated the causes of the November 24, 2000 fire and generator failure at PacifiCorp’s Hunter Unit 1 coal-fired power plant. This analysis was presented in testimony in a Utah Public Service Commission proceeding, investigating whether PacifiCorp should be allowed to pass through replacement power costs from the outage to its Utah ratepayers. Project completed in June 2002.
Synapse quantified the net revenues that PG&E, the owner of the Brayton Point Station, likely earned during the years 1999 to 2002 and would likely earn during the years 2003 to 2013. Synapse also conducted an independent assessment of whether the conversion of the Brayton Point Station to a closed cycle water cooling system would adversely affect electric system reliability. The results of Synapse’s analyses were presented in a series of memoranda that the Attorney General submitted to the U.S. EPA. Project completed in October 2002.
Synapse investigated whether the permanent retirement of Indian Point Units 2 and 3 would lead to any electric system reliability problems in New York City, Westchester County or New York State. Synapse also found that the implementation of aggressive conservation programs in conjunction with the retirement of Indian Point Units 2 and 3 could significantly enhance the reliability of the electric systems in New York City, Westchester County and New York State. Project completed in June 2002.
Weaknesses in the Entergy Study of the Reliability Impacts of Closing Indian Points Units 2 and 3
Revised Indian Point Retirement Reliability Assessment
Entergy’s Lost Revenues During Cooling System Conversion-related Outages
The Impact of Converting Indian Point Units 2 and 3 to Closed-Loop Cooling Systems with Cooling Towers on Entergy’s Likely Future Earnings
The Impact of Converting the Cooling Systems at Indian Point Units 2 and 3 on Electric System Reliability
Synapse surveyed the increasing use of complex corporate ownership structures and LLCs to own and operate nuclear power plants and reviewed the NRC’s oversight of these developments. Synapse also identified those areas in which changes need to be made to assure that there are adequate funds available to meet NRC-imposed requirements, including post September 11, 2001 security-related requirements and Price-Anderson Act nuclear accident insurance obligations, and to assure that decommissioning funds are adequate and are protected. Project completed in August 2002.
Synapse prepared a report titled “Best Practices in Market Monitoring: A Survey of Current ISO Activities and Recommendations for Effective Market Monitoring and Mitigation in Wholesale Electricity Markets,” for the Maryland OPC, the Pennsylvania OCA, the Delaware DPA, the New Jersey DRA, and the OPC of DC. Project completed in November 2001.
Synapse subcontracted to Camp Dresser & McKee to provide Reading with an updated customer information and financial management software system. Synapse provided assistance regarding the electricity market and customer and business strategies that should be factored into the software system. Project completed in July 2001.
Lucy Johnston presented “Consumer and Environmental Benefits of Load Response” before the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) on July 16, 2001.
Bruce Biewald presented “Demand Response in Electricity Markets” at the NASUCA Mid-Year Meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico on June 18, 2001.
Synapse worked with Brower and Company, Tellus Institute, and the Renewable Energy Policy Project to develop a plan for the aggressive implementation of energy efficiency and renewable resources in ten Midwest states. The analysis included electricity market simulation modeling, a technical assessment of cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities, a technical and economic assessment of renewable resource potential, and a development of policies for overcoming market barriers to these clean resources.
Repowering the Midwest: The Clean Energy Development Plan for the Heartland
Synapse investigated the likely impacts of a proposed Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection regulation mandating the reduction of NOx and SO2 emissions from older power plants. Synapse's analysis found that, contrary to claims of the electric generation companies, power plants would be able to comply with the bill without threatening the reliability of power supply in Massachusetts and neighboring regions. Project completed in March 2001.
Synapse, with Resource Insight, Inc., simulated the New England electricity market in order to project the cost of electricity generation in future years. The results evaluated demand-side management investments for all of the Massachusetts companies on a consistent basis. Project completed in November 2001.
Synapse assisted the Staff in preparing a white paper on the need for and role of reliability standards in Delaware, in light of recent reliability concerns in the region. Synapse focused on the role of PJM market rules on reliability, as well as the role of energy efficiency in addressing reliability concerns. Project completed in 2001.
Synapse investigated power plant outage rates in the New England Power Pool before and after the introduction of competition to the wholesale market. Synapse's analysis found that generator outage rates increased by roughly 50 percent during the first twelve months after the opening of the new competitive wholesale market. This may be one of the reasons why wholesale electricity prices increased dramatically during the same period. Project completed in 2001.
David Schlissel presented “ISO-New England’s Generating Unit Availability Study: Where’s the Beef?” at a Restructuring Roundtable on June 29, 2001.
Synapse reviewed the market power implications of the proposed merger between Conectiv and PEPCO. The analysis concluded that the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities should not approve the merger as currently proposed because the merger raised possibly significant market power issues. Project completed in December 2001.
Synapse developed guidelines for the analyses of market power in wholesale electricity markets, and conducted simulation analysis of market power in the regional electricity market. Synapse's analysis included computer modeling of the regional electricity market using the PROSYM model. Project completed in 2001.
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 2001.
Bruce Biewald presented “Quality of Service in Performance-Based Regulation: US Experiences” at the Seminar on Regulation of Electricity Supply Quality in Milan, Italy on June 8, 2001.
Tim Woolf presented “Repowering the Midwest: Overview of Findings” before the National Press Club in Washington, DC on February 14, 2001. The presentation gave an overview of a project Synapse conducted with Brower and Company, Tellus Institute, and the Renewable Energy Policy Project to develop a plan for the aggressive implementation of energy efficiency and renewable resources in ten Midwest states.
In 1996 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission prepared a landmark environmental impact statement (EIS) on its proposal to open the wholesale electricity markets to competition. Synapse reviewed the EIS and compared its forecast to actual experience between 1995 and 2000. The analysis found that actual air emissions were even higher than those projected by FERC in its high environmental impact scenario. Project completed in October 2001.
Synapse reviewed whether the proposed cross-sound transmission cable between Connecticut and Long Island was needed for reliability purposes and would produce public benefits for Connecticut electricity customers. The results were presented in the direct testimony of David Schlissel before the Connecticut Siting Council, Docket No. 208. Project completed in October 2001.
Synapse worked with Resource Insight on a review of the proposed merger between General Public Utilities and First Energy. The analysis addressed three issues: (a) the reasonableness of the utilities' claim that FirstEnergy would be willing to sell power to GPU customers at below-market prices; (b) market power concerns raised by the merger; and (c) RTO related issues. Project completed in May 2001.
Synapse reviewed the 20 year Electric Resource Plans of Sierra Power and Nevada Power, focusing on the proposed energy efficiency programs, and the role of energy efficiency in the evolving electricity market in Nevada. The results were presented in the direct testimony of Tim Woolf before the Public Service Commission of Nevada, Docket No. 01-7016. Project completed September 2001.
Synapse provided comments on proposed rules to introduce retail competition in Virginia. The proposed rules covered a variety of topics, including codes of conduct, supplier licensing, customer information, marketing, enrollment, switching, and billing. Project completed in March 2001.
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