The electrification of transportation systems can bring substantial economic and public health benefits. Synapse’s new guidebook for consumer advocates describes how to evaluate the potential impacts of EVs on customers’ electricity rates, health, and vehicle expenditures. It also describes some of the policies that can be implemented to help ensure that transportation electrification occurs in a manner that allows all customers, particularly low-income and other vulnerable groups, to share in the benefits while not unfairly bearing the costs.
You can browse all project descriptions (below), or narrow the search results by selecting one or more filters (topic area, client, etc.).
Now updated to include the Clean Power Plan and other relevant regulations, the Synapse CO2 price forecasts reflect a reasonable range of expectations regarding future efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Prudent planning requires that utilities and stakeholders take this cost into account when engaging in resource planning. Our forecast, updated annually, includes low, mid, and high case projections for CO2 prices out to 2040 based on thorough analysis of proposed federal regulatory measures, ongoing state and regional policies, the price of CO2 already being factored into federal rulemakings, recent CO2 price forecasts from utility IRPs, and policy analysis and modeling from the research community.
2015 Carbon Dioxide Price Forecast
CO2 Price Report, Spring 2014: Includes 2013 CO2 Price Forecast
2013 Carbon Dioxide Price Forecast
2012 Carbon Dioxide Price Forecast
Avoided Energy Supply Costs in New England 2021 study materials:
- AESC 2021 Report - March Release
- Click here to download the User Interfaces.
- Appendices for the AESC 2021 Report and a slide deck with study results can be found below.
For more information about the AESC study, please visit our project page.
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.
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
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.
A Guide for the Handy Regulator Webinar Presentation
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.
Synapse was retained to provide 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 include 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). Imported fossil fuel costs are the primary driver behind high electricity rates and subject Hawaiian residents to rapidly fluctuating prices. Currently all of the Hawaiian Islands operate their electricity systems independently; a major planning issue going forward is interconnecting several of the islands using undersea cables in order to better integrate and manage high levels of variable renewable energy. On behalf of the client, Synapse is reviewing these key issues and addressing how best to meet future constraints and policy goals while minimizing costs to consumers.
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
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.
The Maryland Office of People’s Counsel retained Synapse to provide expert witness testimony on multi-year rate plans by the Potomac Electric Power Company and Baltimore Gas and Electric Company. This included an examination of capital planning processes, proposed performance incentive mechanisms, and recommendations for tracking metrics.
Direct Testimony of Cheryl Roberto in reviewing BGE's proposed multi-year plan
Surrebuttal Testimony of Cheryl Roberto regarding BGE's application for an electric and gas multi-year plan
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.
On behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Synapse is providing technical and policy support in a number of New York Public Service Commission (NY PSC) and Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) proceedings.
In the ongoing Niagara Mohawk rate case before the NY PSC, Synapse filed testimony on earnings adjustment mechanisms to align utility incentives with New York's energy and climate goals.
In Pennsylvania, Synapse submitted testimony on the Act 129 Energy Efficiency and Conservation plans of PPL Electric Utilities Corporation and PECO Energy Company. Separately, Synapse assisted NRDC with developing comments for the PUC's proceeding on Utilization of Storage Resources as Electric Distribution Assets.
Revised Direct Testimony of Alice Napoleon and Kenji Takahashi In regard to PPL Electric Utilities’ proposed energy efficiency and conservation plan
Direct testimony of Alice Napoleon and Courtney Lane regarding PECO Energy's proposed energy efficiency and conservation plan
Comments to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on the utilization of storage resources as electric distribution assets
On behalf of Counsel to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Synapse analyzed and developed evidence regarding Nova Scotia Power’s (NS Power) proposed time-varying rate application. Synapse witness Melissa Whited recommended that the Board approve NS Power's proposed time-of-use and critical peak price tariffs and recommended that other aspects of the proposal be modified or rejected. In particular, Ms. Whited's evidence critiqued NS Power's proposed "Soft Launch" approach as failing to include adequate details regarding customer engagement strategy, as well as providing insufficient planning for evaluation, measurement, and verification. In addition, Ms. Whited found the company's lost revenue adjustment mechanism to be flawed and unnecessary, and certain tariff requirements to be overly restrictive. Finally, Ms. Whited's evidence pointed to the need to better incorporate long-run marginal costs into future tariff modifications.
On behalf of the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Synapse prepared a report and briefed stakeholders and relevant parties on its its findings regarding Dominion's need for the Surry-Skiffes Creek 500 kV Transmission Line that was constructed across the Jamestown River.
In this report, we review Dominion and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ justification for the Surry-Skiffes Creek-Whealton project, evaluate the actual level of need in the NHRLA, and develop a set of alternative portfolios that can meet area need and comply with North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) requirements without the Surry-Skiffes Creek project. We recommend that in the upcoming Environmental Impact Statement, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers should require that Dominion evaluate modular battery storage as a new supply option, and update its load forecast.
On behalf of the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), Synapse provided expert witness testimony regarding Pepco’s proposed multi-year rate plan and performance incentive mechanisms. Synapse also drafted comments in response to the Commission's Notice of Inquiry regarding implementation of the CleanEnergy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018, which requires the Commission to consider the “effects on global climate change and the District’s public climate commitments.”
GD2019 04 M: DC DOEE Comments Responding to Notice of Inquiry
Direct Testimony of Courtney Lane in Formal Case No. 1156
Rebuttal Testimony of Courtney Lane in Formal Case No. 1156
Surrebuttal Testimony of Courtney Lane in Formal Case No. 1156
Supplemental Testimony of Courtney Lane in Formal Case No. 1156
On behalf of the Eastern Environmental Law Center (EELC), Synapse and subcontractor John Rosenkranz conducted a comprehensive assessment of National Grid’s Capacity Report released February 24, 2020. National Grid's Capacity Report detailed gas peak demand forecasts through the winter of 2034/35, modeling both High Demand and Low Demand scenarios. The report then assessed various long-term gas solutions to fill these gaps. These potential solutions included various large-scale gas infrastructure projects such as the NESE pipeline and LNG facilities, as well as a “No Infrastructure” option which solely relies on additional demand-side resources.
Our analysis found various errors in National Grid’s assessments of the rate of customer conversion from oil to natural gas for the load forecasts, expected levels and costs of energy efficiency and heat pumps under existing or expanded policies and programs, and gas supply resources. The report concludes that corrections to these errors and appropriate treatment of demand-side measures, with or without small changes in National Grid’s supply planning assumptions, eliminates the need for any of the large-scale infrastructure investments examined in the Capacity Report.
On behalf of Earthjustice, Synapse reviewed the U.S. EPA's benefit-cost analysis of changes to the proposed power plant effluent limitations guidelines (ELG). Synapse created an expert report that Earthjustice submitted as part of its official comments on the proposed rule modification.
The purpose of this report is to (1) evaluate the proposed changes to the 2015 ELG rule; (2) review the four options the EPA lays out for compliance (focusing on Options 2 and 4); (3) review the EPA’s benefit cost analysis (BCA); (4) critique the EPA’s analysis and results; and (5) provide recommendations on how the EPA should structure its BCA and which compliance option it should recommend.
On behalf of Environmental Defense Fund, Synapse conducted a benefit-cost analysis of proposed emissions rules drafted by the New Mexico Environment Department. These proposed rules curb emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the oil and gas industry in New Mexico. The analysis compared implementation costs to four types of benefits to the state of New Mexico: sales from newly captured gas, avoided costs related to human health impacts, avoided nonattainment costs of reduced GHG emissions, and the global societal benefit of reducing methane emissions into the atmosphere. The report presents three different approaches to the benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of the proposed rules (e.g., New Mexico BCR, National BCR, and Global BCR) – all of which are cost-effective according to the Synapse analysis.
On behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Synapse is providing technical and policy support in a number New York Public Service Commission (PSC) proceedings, including the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative. This work includes review, comments, and analysis of policies and targets for energy efficiency and other distributed energy resources, to ensure that New York meets its climate, energy, and low- and moderate-income energy affordability goals. Project ongoing.
The 100PercentCT Project developed by People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) supports the transition to a clean energy economy in Connecticut. The project’s primary function is to conduct energy analyses to help inform individual towns and the State of Connecticut about opportunities to achieve 100 percent renewable energy for the buildings and transportation sectors. PACE developed the Town Energy Analysis model—an in-house, techno-economic tool—to inventory energy use and emissions in Connecticut towns and evaluate strategies to transition to renewable energy.
Synapse performed an in-depth review of PACE’s Town Energy Analysis model to identify opportunities to improve upon and expand the model. We evaluated the modeling methods, sectors, and scope included in the energy analysis, as well as the inputs and data sources used. We compared PACE’s model alongside 10 publicly available energy and climate modeling tools to identify opportunities to align the Town Energy Analysis model with current best practices in energy and greenhouse gas accounting and in identification of mitigation opportunities.
Synapse issued a report to PACE presenting our review of the Town Energy Analysis model. First, our report summarizes the energy and climate modeling tools used to establish current energy and climate planning best practices for analytical models. Next, we validate PACE’s model and identify specific changes to improve key data, inputs, methods, and assumptions used in the model. We conclude by identifying additional modeling approaches, clean energy strategies, market segments, and energy impacts for the possible inclusion within PACE’s Town Energy Analysis model.
Synapse supported the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) with analysis of a commercial electric vehicle time-of-use (TOU) rate that was proposed by Duquesne Light in Pennsylvania in a regulatory proceeding. Synapse calculated bill impacts for small and medium commercial and industrial (C&I) customers, aiming to understand how charging non-EV load on the EV TOU rate impacts the bills of C&I customers, relative to the default flat rate. Synapse also compared the impact of the TOU rate on EV charging cost per mile relative to the cost of gasoline per mile for a comparable internal combustion engine vehicle. The analysis examined several types of small and medium C&I customers, including hotels, office buildings, and warehouses, as well as DC fast-charging load. The final deliverable was a slide deck that was used as an exhibit in NRDC's testimony. The testimony is filed here.
Synapse, subcontracting to Eastern Research Group, supported the Maine Climate Council in modeling economy-wide decarbonization pathways for the state that met the state’s goal of reducing emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050 below 1990 levels. Synapse analyzed the transportation, buildings, and electric power sectors using its suite of electrification and decarbonization models. Synapse used its EV-REDI and Building Decarbonization Calculator (BDC) tools to determine trajectories for the adoption of non-emitting electric vehicles (EV) and heat pumps needed to reduce emissions in line with the state’s 2030 and 2050 targets. Using these models, we also calculated the resulting electricity consumption, which we used as an input into the electric sector modeling to ensure that enough clean energy would be generated to meet the growing needs of an electrified economy. Synapse used the EnCompass model to develop a scenario in which Maine’s renewable portfolio standard increased to 100 percent by 2050. Synapse also evaluated reasonable emissions reduction trajectories in other sectors of the economy. The resulting analysis illustrated some of the tradeoffs between reducing emissions through different technological pathways. Synapse energy sector modeling informed the Maine Climate Council's recommendations published in the final report "Maine Won't Wait: A Four-year Plan for Climate Action."
On behalf of Sierra Club, Synapse submitted testimony supporting electric system transformation within an APS rate case, including support for enhanced customer access to data, opposition to formula rates, and recommendations for evaluation of securitization.
Surrebuttal Testimony of Cheryl Roberto for Docket No. E-01345A-19-0236
As a continuation of previous work, Synapse provided counsel to the NS UARB with technical consulting services on demand side management (DSM) issues. As part of the project, Alice Napoleon submitted evidence on EfficiencyOne’s proposed 2020-2022 Demand Side Management Resource Plan. In addition, Synapse conducted analysis and provided comments on proposals to modify the DSM rate and bill impact model, to develop a methodology for calculating avoided transmission and distribution system costs, and to design a program to target DSM at locations where distribution system investment can be avoided. Synapse also analyzed and critiqued a DSM potential study, and an analysis of potential bias in the program administrator's projections of energy savings and spending.
Synapse Comments on EfficiencyOne Performance Alignment Study - M09096
Synapse Comments on EfficiencyOne's 2019 Rate and Bill Impact Analysis and Model - M09471
A new report produced by Synapse Energy Economics, the Regulatory Assistance Project, and Community Action Partnership—with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—takes an in-depth look at the disparate impacts electric and natural gas infrastructure have on economic, social, and health outcomes—and consider how to ensure that a clean-energy future is a more equitable future. The report finds a variety of opportunities for policymakers, including policies to make energy more affordable for vulnerable communities, expand access to energy, reduce environmental hazards, and create jobs in the clean energy transition. The report also includes case studies from municipalities, states, and regions across the country that are working to achieve these goals. The small city of Bloomfield, Iowa, has taken charge of its energy future, transforming its approach to resource planning, investing in efficiency and solar power, and spurring local development. In Ohio, a statewide arrearage management program provides a model for protecting customers from utility shutoffs. In Minnesota, Xcel Energy and the state’s utility regulators are working together to implement performance-based regulation, with benchmarks for improving customer service quality and workforce diversity. And the 10 northeastern states that participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are reducing carbon dioxide emissions (and other pollution) from power plants, improving environmental conditions and community health outcomes. This report highlights these successes and provides policymakers with insights into how to create a successful – and economically inclusive – transition to a clean energy future.
For further insights on this report, read our blog post here.
On behalf of the Sierra Club, Erin Camp, PhD wrote expert witness testimony evaluating Dominion Energy’s electric vehicle (EV) Smart Charging Infrastructure Pilot Program (“Pilot Program”), focusing on the light-duty EV stock growth projection for Dominion’s service territory. The EV stock growth projection, which was used to calculate the number of EV charging stations eligible for rebates in the Pilot Program, underestimated the likely adoption of light-duty EVs in the Company’s service territory. Dr. Camp’s analysis found that, by 2030, the number of registered EVs in the Dominion’s service territory is likely to be double what was predicted by the utility. Her testimony encouraged the utility to recalculate the forecasted EV market and to update the estimated number of required EV charging stations. Dr. Camp also explained that encouraging EV adoption with a well-designed utility program can put downward pressure on rates and benefit all consumers in Dominion’s service territory. Further, a well-designed program will also ensure that the benefits of transportation electrification are equitably distributed to all customers, including low- and moderate-income customers, by improving access to clean, electric transportation options in the form of electric transit (i.e., buses) and charging stations to support EV charging at multi-family buildings.
The FERC approved the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) in 2017. Project owners Duke and Dominion filed a certificate for a construction extension with FERC on June 16, 2020. On behalf of the Southern Environmental Law Center, Synapse assessed the projected demand for new gas used for electric generation, estimating the “maximum demand for new gas” on a peak winter day in Dominion’s and Duke’s service territories. We examined public IRPs, new policies in Virginia and North Carolina that will lower CO2 emissions in the electric sector, and public documents related to the utilities’ internal emission reduction goals. We used that data to build spreadsheet models to assess maximum future gas demand on a winter peak day. Our analysis demonstrates that the need for new gas-fired generating resources originally anticipated by Duke and Dominion has not and will not materialize, thus negating the utilities’ claimed need for the ACP.
Earlier Synapse work on EV Rates, completed on behalf of NRDC, can be found here.
Electric Vehicles are Driving Electric Rates Down - June 2019 Update
Synapse is assisting Energy Outreach Colorado in responding to Public Service Colorado’s time-of-use (TOU) rate implementation proposal. TOU rates have the potential to provide customers with greater control over their bills and reduce system costs. However, to be successful, TOU rates must be implemented thoughtfully and with sufficient customer education, protections, and choice. Synapse’s testimony focuses on best practices for implementing TOU rates and particularly for ensuring that low-income customers are adequately protected and are not subject to rates that would be disproportionately burdensome.
Cross-Answer Testimony and Attachments of Tim Woolf Regarding Need for Customer Opt-Out Provision in PSCo's TOU Rate Plan
Nova Scotia Power Inc (NSPI) filed a capital work order application for recovery of $7.1 million in costs associated with implementing a pilot study using an energy system platform to manage the impacts of Distributed Energy Resources, including paired solar and storage, community solar, and electric vehicle charging. Synapse filed testimony addressing the design and objectives of the pilot and NSPI's assessment of risk.
Synapse was retained to review applications by Indiana electric utilities to recover “lost revenue” resulting from lower than expected commercial and industrial sales due to COVID-19. Synapse's expert witness Cheryl Roberto recommended no recovery of lost revenue to The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The Commission ultimately ruled against recovery of lost revenue; consistent with Synapse recommendations.
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