A companion to Synapse’s 2010 report Beyond Business as Usual: Investigating a Future without Coal and Nuclear Power in the U.S. (BBAU 2010), this study examines the substantial “external” costs of burning coal to produce electricity—such as premature deaths, social costs, and environmental damages—and estimates the degree to which these costs could be avoided by 2050 by moving to the Transition Scenario modeled in the BBAU 2010 report.
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On behalf of the American Public Power Association's Electricity Markets Reform Initiative, Synapse reviewed the performance of capacity markets to date with a focus on PJM's Reliability Pricing Model. It was found that the high cost of these markets for consumers is not justified by the results: windfall profits for incumbent generators, and little gains in new generation where it is needed most. An important exception has been the development of clean, affordable demand-side resources, but at far too high a cost.
APPA Press Briefing Remarks
For this project, Synapse reviewed existing demand-side resources in the Midwest ISO and mechanisms for demand resources (energy efficiency, demand response, and distributed generation) to participate in the Midwest ISO energy and capacity markets. Synapse also analyzed existing practices for demand resources participation in the energy and capacity markets in the other ISO/RTOS and how these resources were accounted for in their transmission planning processes. The project team suggested the "best practices" approach for incorporation of demand-side resources into the Midwest ISO markets and transmission planning.
Synapse’s Kenji Takahashi presented on “Innovative U.S. Electricity Policies and Programs and the Impacts of Fukushima Nuclear Accident on the U.S. Nuclear Industry” in Osaka, Japan on November 11, 2011 (presentation in Japanese).
Impacts of Fukushima Nuclear Accident on the U.S. Nuclear Industry
Synapse assisted the OPC in reviewing and critiquing the integrated resource plan of Ameren Missouri. Synapse drafted a technical report addressing the following issues: energy efficiency potential and cost-effectiveness, renewable resource potential, costs and risks associated with new nuclear projects, the costs to existing coal plants of new environmental regulations, and proper methodologies for selecting preferred resources plans.
Rebuttal Testimony of Dr. Thomas Vitolo on Union Electric Company Integrated Resource Plan
Synapse evaluated the cost-effectiveness of residential Direct Load Control (DLC) proposals filed by Jersey Central Power & Light. Synapse analyzed various components of the estimated costs, including equipment costs and payments to DLC participants, and of the estimated benefits, including the disposition of payments made by PJM to the utilities for the reductions in demand achieved through DLC.
Synapse conducted a study on behalf of the Civil Society Institute (CSI) to estimate the employment impacts of a scenario in which all coal-fired electric generation and much of the nuclear power existing in the United States in 2010 is phased out through 2050 and replaced with renewable generation and energy efficiency measures. This scenario was developed in a previous study completed for CSI in May 2010. The analysis utilized the IMPLAN model to estimate the direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts of this coal and nuclear phase-out on eight multi-state regions and on the U.S. as a whole.
Synapse assisted the Sierra Club with drafting comments on the proposed "Energy Efficiency and Conservation Quick Start Rule" issued by the Louisiana Public Service Commission.
In 2008, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA). The Act aims to mitigate Massachusetts greenhouse gas emissions by 10-25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050. Synapse worked in conjunction with Eastern Research Group and other sector experts to assist DOER in developing and analyzing policy instruments to help achieve these goals, and performed modeling to project the costs and impacts of various existing and potential greenhouse gas mitigation policies.
The purpose of this project was to provide comments on Minnesota Power's 2010 IRP after analyzing the Company's Strategist modeling results and presenting our own modeling scenarios and results. Synapse participated in several rounds of discovery questions asked to MN Power, replicated the five modeling scenarios analyzed by the Company, performed sensitivity analysis modeling on those scenarios, and created a "Synapse Reference Case." Synapse also modeled several retirement scenarios based on the Synapse Reference Case. Comments were due in September 2010 with rebuttal comments due one month later.
Synapse provided expert advice on and analysis of energy efficiency and CHP programs offered by New Jersey's Clean Energy Program for the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel. We reviewed, analyzed, and commented on various energy efficiency-related matters, including the state-administered programs’ monthly performance, designs and budgets, avoided energy supply cost estimates, cost-benefit analyses, energy savings protocols, EM&V studies, and overall administrative structure. We also periodically reviewed and commented on New Jersey Energy Master Plans, and on a three-year energy efficiency program plan called the Comprehensive Resource Analyses.
Synapse assisted the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel with the review of New Jersey Natural Gas Company’s energy efficiency programs for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Synapse reviewed the effects of New York emissions laws on imports and exports and wholesale electric markets.
Legislation in Nova Scotia established aggressive renewable energy targets, and directed the province’s Utility and Review Board to develop Community Based Feed-In Tariffs (COMFITs). These tariffs would establish rates that Nova Scotia Power would pay to small renewable energy projects at least partially owned by cities, towns, or other non-profit organizations. In 2010, the Board retained Synapse to research and propose tariff rates for five different technologies: small wind projects, medium-sized wind projects, small hydro, small tidal, and biomass CHP projects. Synapse staff moderated a stakeholder process, holding two technical sessions in Halifax and taking input from stakeholders. In April 2011, Synapse filed proposed tariffs with the Board and participated in hearings. The Board accepted Synapse’s proposed tariffs with minor adjustments.
Synapse provided expert witness services concerning the triennial decommissioning cost dockets for SDG&E and SCE.
Synapse worked with the MCEA and Izaak Walton League to draft comments on the Otter Tail Power 2010 IRP. Rachel Wilson provided testimony describing modeling used in the company’s Advanced Determination of Prudence for BART retrofits at its Big Stone plant. Project completed in October 2011.
The Pennsylvania Office of the Consumer Advocate retained Synapse to assist with its review of PECO Energy Company’s Initial Dynamic Pricing and Customer Acceptance Plan. Rick Hornby testified on behalf of PA OCA. Project completed 2011.
Surrebuttal Testimony Reviewing PECO Energy Company Initial Dynamic Pricing and Customer Acceptance Plan
For this project, Synapse examined the impact of the potential withdrawal of Maine utilities from ISO - New England. Synapse reviewed case documents, utility filings, and available materials related to potential new transmission line connections between northern Maine and the rest of the Maine transmission system. We also developed and responded to discovery requests. Project completed April 2011.
Synapse analyzed the prudence of the Nevada Power Company's decision to continue with the construction of a new natural gas combined cycle facility, in light of dramatic reductions in electricity load forecasts. The analysis included a review of the Nevada integrated resource planning process, company analyses of the benefits of delaying construction, and the economics of alternative resource options. Project completed in September 2011.
The scope of this project entailed analyzing, reviewing, and issuing discovery requests regarding the Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) filing to continue and extend funding and program time lines for three sub-programs under the PSE&G’s energy efficiency economic stimulus program (Residential Multi-family Housing Sub-Program, Municipal/Local/State Government Direct Install Sub-Program, Hospital Efficiency Sub-Program). Project completed in November 2011.
For this project, Synapse provided expert testimony before the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission regarding whether investments made by the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) in certain environmental upgrades, along with other capital outlays, were prudent and should be allowed recovery. Our testimony also addressed the question of coordination between the company's integrated resource plan activities and its rate case requests. Finally, Synapse reviewed certain environmental regulations that were likely to affect the operations and economics of PNM's coal plants. Project completed in 2011.
Exhibits of Testimony Regarding Public Service Company of New Mexico Proposed Revision of its Retail Rates
Synapse assisted the Eastern Research Group and the Department of the Interior: Minerals Management Service in identifying and analyzing issues related to the integration of offshore renewable resources into the electrical grid. As part of the work, Synapse provided MMS with background information crucial to managing these new resources. The overall project also identified existing and future infrastructure needs required to develop offshore renewable resources responsibly. Project completed in November 2011.
Synapse provided expert advice on issues arising in Dominion’s Demand-Side Management cost-recovery rider petition for programs delivered in 2010-2011. Synapse also provided expert witness services in a proceeding to establish numeric savings goals and program policies for electric utility DSM programs. Topics included cost-benefit testing, inclusion of carbon costs, cost allocation, and DSM services for hard-to-reach customers including limited-income customers.
Testimony on Energy Efficiency and Demand Response in Virginia
Synapse prepared a detailed literature review to inform the EPA’s future modeling and analyses of the impact of demand resources on the need for new, large, supply-side resources. In particular, Synapse investigated whether the expected growth in demand response will be significant enough to reduce the need for large supply-side resources, such as coal-fired generation. Project completed December 2011.
Bruce Biewald presented “Review of Resource Planning around North America” on October 17, 2011. The presentation covered the basics of integrated resource planning, state IRP rules, energy prices and environmental compliance planning, restructured markets, and ratemaking and cost recovery.
Synapse reviewed the terms and conditions of a proposed contract for the purchase of power from a turnkey solar photovoltaic installation. Project completed in August 2011.
Synapse provided expert advice and negotiation support regarding cost recovery for SEC&G's demand side management programs. Project completed in 2011.
On behalf of Sierra Club, Synapse examined and assisted in responding to Southwestern Public Service Company's arguments regarding reliability as it relates to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). Bruce Biewald testified before the United State Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the use of probabilistic computer models to properly analyze system reliability.
Synapse assisted the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel with the state's Energy Master Planning (EMP) process. Our work included reviewing input assumptions and modeling methods for electric sector policies. Key policy options considered in the NJ EMP included energy efficiency programs, reform of the auction for Basic Generation Service, establishment of a state power authority, and various efforts to promote renewable energy and ensure reliable electricity service at reasonable cost to consumers. Project completed April 2011.
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