Synapse provided facilitation, policy, and technical analyses for the Alaska climate change action planning process to develop state policies that will lead to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the Energy Supply and Residential, Commercial, and Industrial sectors in Alaska. Synapse facilitated one of the Working Groups of the Alaska Climate Change Mitigation Advisory Group (MAG). The Working Group included representatives from state and local governments, utilities, businesses, the building and green energy sectors, environmental groups, and the research community. In addition to facilitating the Working Group, Synapse analyzed and estimated the cost of and potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 through a number of policy mechanisms. For the energy supply sector, these include expanded use of renewable energy including direct heating, improved efficiency of new and existing power plants, and transmission optimization and expansion. For the residential, commercial, and industrial sector, policies included state and utility efficiency programs, appliance standards, and building codes.
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Synapse was retained to review aspects of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) policy and associated state policies, with the aim of implementing consistent and effective policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions at reasonable cost while minimizing "leakage," or electric system policy boundary, problems.
Synapse was directed by the EPA to prepare a report on several aspects of back-up generators (BUGs). These include how BUGs are used in various RTOs around the US; applicable rules and requirements for air permits and operation; the number of BUGs deployed and their potential air quality impacts.
For this project, Synapse reviewed KCPL’s IRP for consistency with law on the supply side for renewable resources. Tom Franks, of Optimal Energy, acted in a subcontractor role and focused on aspects of demand-side management.
Synapse evaluated whether there are supply and demand-side alternatives to the proposed Big Stone II coal-fired generating facility that are technically feasible and economically cost-effective. Synapse also investigated whether the applicants included appropriate emissions control technologies in the design of the proposed facility and whether the applicants appropriately reflected the potential for the regulation of greenhouse gases in the design of the proposed facility and in their analyses of the alternatives. Project completed in September 2006. Follow-up work completed in 2009.
Testimony of Ezra Hausman Regarding the Proposed Big Stone II Coal-Fired Generating Facility
Additional Testimony of David Schlissel and Anna Sommer Regarding the Proposed Big Stone II Coal-Fired Generating Facility
Synapse assisted Western Resource Advocates and its local affiliate, NCARE, in developing a clean energy planning model to show how renewable resources can meet Nevada’s future power needs and produce economic benefits at minimal cost to ratepayers. Synapse developed a clean development model that shows how transmission investments support renewables, along with aggressive development of renewable and energy efficiency potential in the state, can more than meet Nevada’s electricity needs without relying on expensive and CO2-emitting new resources such as a proposed coal plant.
Synapse served as a technical advisor to Division on all DSM activity, mainly through participation in DSM collaborative meetings.
Synapse was retained by Arkansas Public Service Commission staff as a subcontractor to Larkin Associates to provide assistance for a variety of projects related to electric resource planning and power procurement during July 2006 through June 2007. The first project evaluated whether Entergy Arkansas Inc. (EAI)’s proposed acquisition of a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) capacity was in the public interest. Tasks included the preparation of a background report on fuel diversity policies and practices, and testimony supporting the findings. This work assisted the Commission in its determination of whether to recommend the adoption of a fuel diversity standard under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005).
Synapse also evaluated the economics of a proposed coal plant in southwestern Arkansas. Synapse found that the Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) had not prudently considered the potential for further increases in the cost of building the plant or the costs of likely federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.
Additionally, Synapse reviewed changes to Entergy’s avoided cost methodology, and a proposed scrubber installation on an existing plant. All projects were completed August 2009.
Surrebuttal Testimony on Entergy Arkansas Avoided Cost Computation Methodology
Arkansas Electric Generation Fuel Diversity: Implementation of EPAct 2005 Amendments to PURPA Section 111 (d)
Testimony Addressing the Economic Impact of SWEPCO Proposed Hempstead Project
Phase II (AC) Direct Testimony Regarding Entergy Arkansas Inc. Request for Approval of New Capacity
Phase II (A) Surrebuttal Testimony Regarding Entergy Arkansas Inc. Request for Approval of New Capacity
Phase II (B) Direct Testimony Regarding Entergy Arkansas Inc. Request for Approval of New Capacity
Rachel Wilson presented “The Energy-Water Nexus: Interactions, Challenges, and Policy Solutions” at the National Drinking Water Symposium on October 13, 2009.
Synapse was retained to evaluate whether there are lower cost alternatives to the relicensing of the Indian Point Nuclear Power plants for an additional twenty years of operating life.
Synapse produced a report assessing the risks of the building of a proposed new coal power plant in Washington County, Georgia. The report analyzed construction and CO2 costs and potential alternatives to the plant.
The Risks of Building and Operating Plant Washington
Synapse provided expert witness services to the Vermont Conservation Law Foundation during litigation on new organizational models for the Vermont Efficiency Utility, a leading example in the nation of independent third-party administration of electric energy efficiency programs.
Prefiled Rebuttal Testimony Addressing the Structure of the Vermont State Energy Efficiency Utility
This project consisted of a review of the 2008 integrated resource plan filed by AmerenUE.
For this project, Synapse analyzed energy efficiency and demand response alternatives to a proposed transmission upgrade in the Portland, ME area.
Synapse and Lanzalotta Associates analyzed the proposed $1 billion TrAIL 500 kV transmission line from southwestern Pennsylvania to northern Virginia for the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate. Their findings included recommendations to implement energy efficiency and demand response in the West Penn Power service territory of Allegheny Power to reduce local loading, and to reinforce the 138 kV system in the area, instead of building one portion of the proposed line, the segment between 502 Junction and Prexy in PA. The findings also included a recommendation for more rigorous analysis of the overall need for the remaining portion of the line between 502 Junction and Loudoun (No. VA), given PJM’s minimal analysis of the effect of federal CO2 regulation on the claimed PJM dispatch efficiencies and production cost savings associated with the line.
Synapse was retained to assess economics of proposed 500 kV line with emphasis on analysis and critique of Hydro One computation of locked-in energy associated with alternative projects.
In conjunction with Lanzalotta Associates, Synapse evaluated the proposal by Central Maine Power to upgrade local area supply from 34.5 kV to 115 kV in Southern Maine. Synapse assessed the ability for conservation, energy efficiency, and demand response to reduce projected load increases and allow for a less expensive upgrade to the local sub-transmission system. Synapse and Lanzalotta are jointly sponsoring testimony before the Maine Public Service Commission.
David Schlissel presented “Are There Nukes in Our Future?” before the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates on June 24, 2008. Topics covered include factors that have led to rising power plant construction costs; nuclear power and climate change; and risks for ratepayers, plant owns, and investors.
Clean energy programs and policies can help states achieve their goal of providing a less polluting, reliable, and affordable energy system. Working under Stratus Consulting, Synapse jointly authored a guidebook for evaluating energy system impacts and air emissions reductions from implementing clean energy measures. This guidebook introduces state policymakers and analysts to the concepts, terms, methods, tools, assumptions and models that Public Utility Commissions and utilities use to compare traditional grid electricity with demand- and supply-side clean energy resources (e.g., energy efficiency, renewable energy, CHP, and clean distributed generation). Short examples and case studies illustrate the challenges that states face in analyzing clean energy initiatives, as well as the methods they have used to successfully quantify and promote them.
Ezra Hausman and Chris James presented “Cap and Trade CO2 Regulation: Efficient Mitigation or a Give-away?” at the ELCON Spring Workshop in Nashville, Tennessee on June 3, 2008. The presentation covered issues such as cap and trade design considerations, auction versus allocation, and cap and trade policies in regulated and deregulated electricity markets.
Synapse made adjustments to New England avoided electricity cost projections to account for various methods for treatment of carbon dioxide emissions.
Synapse provided assistance to Environmental Defense as part of Florida’s climate change planning process. Work included analysis of policy options, review of legislation being considered, and development of a white paper to promote renewable development in the state.
Bruce Biewald presented “Climate Change Policies in the Northeast: Carbon Emission Caps and Energy Cost” at the ASHRAE Winter Meeting in New York City on January 20, 2008. The presentation covered the evolution of carbon dioxide emissions policy in the Northeast, carbon dioxide emissions price forecasts, and emissions rates from the region’s electric power system.
Synapse was retained by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies to assist in several activities regarding the issue of climate change. For this project, the Synapse team prepared written comments and testimony on climate legislation being considered by Congress; developed agenda, participated and facilitated a major climate conference for state air, energy and utility regulators in February 2008; and coordinated conference calls for global warming, criteria pollutant and agriculture committee on a bi-monthly basis.
In 2008, Synapse found that the estimated costs of building new coal plants had reached $3,500 per kW not including financing costs, and that costs were still expected to increase further. These cost increases were driven by a worldwide competition for power plant design and construction resources, commodities, equipment, and manufacturing capacity.
On behalf of The Utility Reform Network (TURN), Synapse prepared written comments to submit before the California Energy Commission on greenhouse gas allowance design, including auctioning of allowances and distribution of revenue.
Synapse was contracted by the U.S. EPA to evaluate the air quality impacts from generators that operate during high electric demand days (HEDD) in Connecticut. Based on an evaluation of future electric demand, Synapse evaluated effects of increased energy efficiency and installing additional air pollution controls on the ability of Connecticut to attain compliance with EPA ozone standards. Synapse constructed a stochastic model using emissions reference data from EPA’s emissions tracking system. The model enabled electricity demand to be grown to 2020, using ISO-NE load forecasts and Synapse’s knowledge regarding future Connecticut energy and environmental policies. Model results predicted which generating unit would satisfy demand for each hour, and at what load condition, based on electricity demand.
Synapse assessed the benefits and costs of electric utility efficiency programs in Massachusetts. The types of benefits identified and assessed include, but are not limited to, avoided energy supply costs, demand-reduced-induced price effect, avoided CO2 costs, job creation, and risk reduction. As part of the analysis of utility program costs, the concept of conservation supply curve was explored and the costs of saved energy by Massachusetts utilities and several other utilities in other jurisdictions over many years were examined in detail. The study identified economies of scale in the cost of saved energy in every utility efficiency program, which is that efficiency program costs decreased when program scales expanded.
Synapse subcontracted to Resource Insight to prepare this analysis for the Maryland Office of the People's Counsel. The purpose of the study was to identify the cost and risk benefits to residential customers of alternative strategies for meeting their electricity requirements over a long-term planning period. Using data for a representative investor-owned utility in Maryland, the Synapse team modeled a baseline or reference strategy that reflects a continuation of their existing supply procurement approach, based solely on short-term contracts, as well as several alternative portfolio strategies, involving contracts of varying length as well as efficiency programs. Synapse evaluated the candidate portfolios and the baseline scenario using an Excel-based power-system model with a Monte Carlo simulation capability. This approach allowed the project team to evaluate the performance of each strategy under a large number of possible future scenarios, and to measure that performance both in terms of expected cost and cost variability across all future scenarios.
Paul Peterson presented “Creating a Future” at the REV Distributed Energy Conference in Stratton, Vermont on May 15, 2008, where he discussed energy efficiency and demand response scenarios in ISO New England and a strategy for the future.
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