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.
You can browse all project descriptions (below), or narrow the search results by selecting one or more filters (topic area, client, etc.).
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.
Synapse teamed with Larkin & Associates and Resource Insight to evaluate MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company's (MidAmerican) proposed acquisition of PacifiCorp from owner Scottish Power. The overall objective of this assignment was to develop an assessment of the proposed acquisition from a consumer standpoint. Issues that we analyzed included: What would the new PacifiCorp corporate structure look like in terms of local presence and control? What are the financial and economic risks involved? And what would MidAmerican do for customers in terms of generation, transmission and distribution investment strategy? Further, if there were significant risks, were there certain conditions or alternatives that would mitigate those risks and make the acquisition more favorable for consumers? To answer these questions, Synapse reviewed the company filing, participated in the review of discovery, and participated in settlement negotiations. Project completed in January 2006.
Synapse reviewed PG&E’s application to establish a voluntary customer climate protection program. Synapse made the following determinations: 1) PG&E shareholders would likely benefit from such a program, and 2) there would be greater customer participation in the program if PG&E shareholders participated in the funding for the program. Given these findings, Synapse recommended that PG&E pay for most of the marketing and administration costs associated with the proposed program. In addition, Synapse recommended that PG&E pursue the option of making the monthly voluntary customer contributions tax deductible. As a result of Synapse’s testimony, the Commission ruled to share marketing and administration costs 50/50 between non-participant and participant ratepayers, to require PG&E shareholders to guarantee 1.5 million tons of CO2 reductions regardless of subscriptions to the program, and to adopt certain ratemaking treatment preferred by TURN. In addition, the Commission directed PG&E to further explore the tax deductibility issue. Project completed in August 2006.
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 reviewed several proposals to build new transmission lines to link Maine with the New Brunswick Canada electric system. One of these proposed lines would be a new link with the Maine Public Service Company (MPS) system in northern Maine. Another new line would be a second 345 kV transmission link between New England and New Brunswick. In addition, Synapse evaluated requests by MPS and Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative to reserve capacity on the proposed second 345 kV link between New England and New Brunswick. Project completed in January 2006.
Synapse was asked by SACE to review Georgia Power Company’s request for an accounting order to record early site permitting and construction operating license costs for new nuclear power plants. Synapse recommended that the Commission reject Georgia Power’s request for the accounting order. Synapse concluded that instead of making any decision regarding the relative economics of new nuclear power plants based on the incomplete record that will be developed in this rushed docket, the Commission should require that the economics of all technically feasible supply-side and demand-side options be investigated in detail in the 2007 IRP proceeding. We also recommended that the Commission also not take any action that would give nuclear power any specific subsidies that are not being provided to other supply-side and demand-side options. Project completed in July 2006.
Synapse testified on behalf of Intervenors Barbara Born, et al. (concerned citizens) with regard to the proposed Longview Power LLC coal plant. Synapse presented evidence that the Company neglected to provide adequate information regarding the short- and long-term financial viability of the Project. The Company also neglected to provide a comprehensive analysis detailing the amount of property taxes that Longview would be required to pay to Monongalia County in the absence of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement. Synapse argued that it was therefore impossible to make a determination regarding the economic impact of the Project on Monongalia County and residents in the State of West Virginia. For these reasons, Synapse recommended that the Commission deny Longview of a Siting Certificate for the proposed plant. Project completed in April 2006.
Surrebuttal Testimony Reviewing the Siting Certificate Application for West Virginia Coal Plant
Synapse posts hundreds of publications for free public download. You can browse all publications (below), or narrow the search results by selecting one or more filters (topic area, client, etc.).