Synapse was hired to review issues with the acquisition of Constellation Energy Group (including Baltimore Gas and Electric Company) by Electricite de France. Our analysis focused on risks and financial impacts associated with the Calvert Cliffs nuclear station.
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Synapse provided an analysis of the benefits and methodology associated with the Department of Energy’s value for carbon dioxide in its proposed appliance standard. In addition, Synapse provided recommendations on an alternative valuation of carbon dioxide based on the long-term marginal abatement cost of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
The project reviewed, critiqued and provided expert testimony on distributed generation and demand response aspects of Ontario Power Authority’s proposed “Integrated Power System Plan.”
Synapse analyzed two proposed Smart Grid Pilot Projects filed by Rockland Electric Company (RECO) that were awarded Department of Energy Smart Grid Grants. One proposed project would be to install automated distribution equipment in two substations within the RECO service territory. Another proposed project would incorporate distributable back-up battery storage technologies into existing solar photovoltaic systems installed within the RECO service territory. Although both projects were awarded federal stimulus funding that would defray 50% of approved costs, Synapse recommended that the battery storage system pilot project be funded through New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program since the results would benefit all New Jersey ratepayers, not just RECO ratepayers.
On behalf of the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Appalachian Voices, and the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, Synapse provided expert testimony regarding the 2009 integrated resource plan filed by the Appalachian Power Company.
Multi-Employer Property Trust (MEPT) Journal Square Urban Renewal applied to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for a ruling to enable it to submeter and charge tenants in its new project for electricity, in lieu of utility submetering. The proposal was tied to a plan to use in-house fuel cells to generate electricity. This project evaluated the application from the viewpoints of energy conservation and consumer protection.
On behalf of the Energy Foundation, Synapse prepared analysis of and reported on consumer impacts of federal climate legislation with and without supplemental investments in energy efficiency, by state, for the contiguous United States. Although the analysis was based on H.R. 2454 passed by Congress in 2009, the analytical approach and conclusions apply generally to cap-and-trade regulation.
Synapse was retained to collaborate with Nova Scotia Power on an update to its Integrated Resource Planning process. The planning was done subject to a hard cap on system carbon dioxide emissions, and other constraints. The resulting reference plan included aggressive development of wind and biomass, and rapid ramp-up of energy efficiency programs.
Synapse prepared expert reports on the planning and modeling conducted by defendants in a series of lawsuits involving the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act. This work has included a review of the Companies’ application of the PROMOD and PROSYM models and the development of PROSYM model runs to analyze the relationships between power plant availability, generation, and emissions.
Jeremy Fisher presented “Consumers at the Water/Energy Nexus” at the NASUCA Annual Conference on November 16, 2010. The presentation focuses on how to protect electricity and water consumers in a water-constrained world with measures such as requiring long-term water resource planning, pricing water by its social value for planning purposes (not by the utility’s contractual cost or a price of $0), and stress testing cross-sectoral plans by investigating how operations and consumer welfare will be affected under low water, high temperature conditions.
Synapse provided an explanation of why the IEE Whitepaper conclusions are not directly applicable to the varying situations of different utilities and different jurisdictions throughout the country.
On behalf of the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Appalachian Voices, and the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, Synapse provided expert testimony regarding the integrated resource plan filed by Dominion.
In 2010, Synapse developed a draft rule for the Arkansas Public Service Commission Staff specifying demand-side management reporting requirements. The reporting requirements were developed to:
- Enable the Commission and stakeholders to assess programs;
- Standardize reporting data across utilities;
- Clarify definitions;
- Ensure that utility DSM programs are comprehensive, thorough, cost-effective, and adhere to best practices;
- Enable a concise overview of resource allocation, savings, and trends in those items in order to further Commission and public understanding of demand-side management programs; and
- Maximize progress towards least-cost utility service via comprehensive acquisition of all cost-effective demand-side management resources.
William Steinhurst presented “Electricity Trends in Pennsylvania” to the Central Susquehanna Citizen’s Coalition on April 1, 2010. The presentation gives an overview of PJM and covers expiration of generation supply rate caps and electricity choice, net metering and feed-in tariffs for residential renewable generation, and Pennsylvania policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation.
Synapse Senior Associate Chris James was retained to work with RAP on the following areas: improving integration of energy and environmental policies in the ministry of environmental project and the grid operators; adopting policies to improve energy efficiency for the industrial sector and multi-pollutant strategies for air quality. The project involved direct meetings with Chinese government officials, who are primarily located in Beijing. Several short papers have been written to help Chinese officials with emissions trading, the U.S. RGGI program, output-based emissions standards and multi-pollutant approaches for air quality.
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: First Auction of GHG Allowances Considered a Success
Has U.S. Regional Planning Helped Support a Multi-pollutant Approach to Air Quality?
Black Hills Power submitted a request for a nearly 30% increase in residential electric rates in South Dakota, to recover costs associated with its Wygen 3 coal-fired power plant in Wyoming. Synapse testified before the South Dakota Public Service Commission that Black Hills Power had failed to adequately address the ability of more cost-effective resources, such as energy efficiency and combined heat and power, to provide the energy and capacity that was forecast to be needed in the future.
Synapse prepared two separate reports that describe the potential for energy efficiency (EE) in North Dakota and South Dakota, and the economic and jobs benefits that could occur from developing and implementing EE programs in these states. Both states lag others in developing their EE programs and have electricity consumption rates that are 20-30% higher than the U.S. national average. Despite low electricity rates, the high rate of energy consumption results in residents of both states spending higher shares of their per capita incomes on energy bills than residents of other states, including those with higher electricity rates. The reports show that EE programs that result in energy savings equal to 1% and 2% of annual electricity sales would save ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars by 2020 and lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs.
South Dakota Energy Efficiency Potential Study Report
Synapse was contracted by the Energy Foundation to perform a re-analysis of an econometric study regarding the cost of energy efficiency nationwide. The initial study examined trends in several hundred utility power deliveries, and structured a regression model to predict the impact of demand-side management (DSM) spending on ultimate deliveries to consumers. The study found a relatively high cost of energy efficiency, indicating that fairly little energy efficiency could be achieved, and at a high cost. The re-analysis examined initial data assumptions and the validity of the model construct in close cooperation with the initial study's authors. The final deliverable of this project us a white paper and executive briefing for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Information Administration, both charged with modeling the atmospheric impacts and costs of pending climate legislation in the U.S.
Along with Eastern Research Group, Synapse provided the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection with a set of factsheets detailing specific greenhouse gas reduction strategies and resources that could be incorporated into projects subject to Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act requirements.
Synapse was retained to advise CERES on issues related to the long-term future of regulated electric utilities. Specific topics included financing of de-carbonization efforts and ratemaking issues for energy efficiency.
Synapse was contracted by the State of Utah to estimate the water and health co-benefits of implementing energy efficiency (EE) and increasing renewable energy (RE) resources in Utah. This modeling-based exercise drew upon power system expertise at Synapse, civil engineering at Tufts University, and emissions-receptor modeling from the Harvard School of Public Health. New EE and RE resources reduced in-state demand, which reduced some aspects of in-state generation. Synapse and team members identified current and future water and health externalities from baseline generation and load growth; co-benefits are identified as the difference between externalities from baseline generation and the EE/RE scenarios. For this project, Synapse modified an in-house statistically-based hourly dispatch model, developed using publicly available historical generation and emissions data. Future build-out and resource replacement were explicitly modeled. Total generation and emissions from each scenario were used to estimate externalities and associated costs: water consumption was based on reported water use for unit-specific cooling systems; the externality cost of water was the regional marginal cost of water, derived from transaction data; mortality and morbidity were calculated from the formation, dispersion, and geographically distributed population uptake of primary and secondary particulates and ozone; externality values were based on the statistical value of life and healthcare costs for hospital visits and lost productivity.
Co-Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in Utah - Presentation
Synapse analyzed a scenario for the Civil Society Institute in which energy efficiency and renewable energy replace coal-fired power generation by 2050. The analysis divided the country into eight regions and investigated how each region could phase out coal-fired electricity. The study found that, by 2050, expanded energy efficiency efforts could reduce electricity demand from current levels by 15 percent and that renewable energy could provide nearly half of the 2050 demand. Importantly, the coal-fired generation could be eliminated without increasing the country's reliance on nuclear power. The plan would involve modest near-term costs but would save money over the long term. "Beyond Business as Usual: Investigating a Future without Coal and Nuclear Power in the U.S" was released in May 2010.
Synapse provided technical advice and guidance to Plains Justice, which was a stakeholder in a process to implement the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) order to increase the quantity of energy saved by energy efficiency measures to 1.5% annually. Earlier, Synapse testified in an IUB hearing that this level of savings was both achievable and cost-effective.
Synapse provided technical services during the discovery phase of a rate case in connection with the adequacy of decommissioning fund collections.
Synapse analyzed the potential ratepayer impacts of a proposed new Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (“IGCC”) generating facility in Kemper County, Mississippi.
Synapse provided expert witness services during the Mississippi PSC’s consideration of several newly enacted PURPA standards relating to resource planning and DSM.
Synapse provided expert advice on and analysis of energy efficiency 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’ designs and budgets, avoided energy supply cost estimates, cost-benefit analyses, energy savings protocols updates, and fiscal year budget proposals. We also reviewed and commented on New Jersey Energy Master Plans, a three-year energy efficiency program plan called the Comprehensive Resource Analysis, and various proposals associated with the new energy efficiency program framework including program delivery structure, program design, performance incentives, and cost recovery.
Synapse prepared a review of and testimony on the NSPI 2010 DSM program, budget, and cost recovery proposal.
Synapse assisted the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) with its intervention in the case pertaining to Philadelphia Gas Works’ (PGW) first five-year gas demand-side management plan, submitted to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in 2009. Synapse provided the OCA technical support for the collaborative stakeholder processes, including discovery and settlement processes, and prepared testimony in several key areas, including: program designs, program implementation schedules, budget, coordination with other entities, cost-effectiveness, rate and bill impacts, cost recovery, and lost revenue mechanism.
Synapse prepared a report for EarthJustice examining the need to analyze federal and state public policy mandates in planning processes for the bulk power system.
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.).