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.
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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.
For this project, Synapse provided a report comparing state IRP regulations.
Synapse prepared a report examining integrated resource planning (IRP) regulations and rules in the United States. Among other things, the Synapse report examines required planning horizons, frequency with which plans must be updated, resources to be required, and rules regarding coal plant decommissioning.
Synapse provided expert testimony on behalf of the Sierra Club regarding Kansas Utility KCPL’s resource plan, and specifically their request for advanced ratemaking principles for substantial environmental upgrades for the company’s coal fleet. Synapse provided testimony on likely future environmental upgrade costs that should be considered in evaluating the long-term cost-effectiveness of KCPL’s coal fleet and on the appropriate regulatory treatment of these costs. In addition, Synapse reviewed and critiques KCPL’s modeling approach, input assumptions, and the robustness of the company’s scenario analysis. Project completed in 2011.
Synapse provided brief testimony before the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities outlining the carbon emissions and economic status of generation owned by Public Service of New Hampshire, a Northeast Utilities subsidiary. Project completed in 2011.
William Steinhurst of Synapse Energy Economics wrote a comprehensive report for the National Regulatory Research Institute providing basic information on the US electric industry. Project completed January 2011.
For this study, Synapse evaluated and compared two scenarios:
• Business as Usual (BAU): Under this scenario, the country continues to rely on fossil and nuclear generation to meet its energy needs, and electric-sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions continue to increase.
• Transition Scenario: Under this scenario, the country moves toward a power system based on efficiency and renewable energy, and CO2 emissions are reduced substantially. In the Transition Scenario, all U.S. coal-fired power plants are retired, along with nearly a quarter of the nation’s nuclear fleet, by 2050.
Synapse estimated the net costs and benefits of the Transition Scenario relative to BAU using a spreadsheet model that accounted for generating capacity, energy, fuel use, costs, emissions, and water use. The study found that the Transition Scenario was significantly less expensive than the BAU Scenario—saving a present value of $83 billion over 40 years. This finding was particularly striking, given that the BAU Scenario included no carbon costs or carbon reductions. Project completed in 2011.
For this project, Synapse researched and wrote a whitepaper on options for providing enhanced revenues to selected resources in PJM’s wholesale markets. Three categories of resources were evaluated: those that provide operational flexibility to respond to system needs in two hours or less, those that satisfy specific state and federal policies (such as renewable portfolio standards), and those that reduce the carbon footprint of system resources. Options for enhanced revenues evaluated in the study include energy, capacity, and reserve market revenues. An initial draft was presented at an ACSF workshop in October 2011. The final draft was produced in December 2011.
Synapse provided analytical and policy support to the Vermont Department of Public Service in its development of a State Comprehensive Energy Plan. Synapse assisted in the definition of energy future scenarios and analyzed the cost, emissions, and broader economics of these plans. Using Market Analytics, Synapse modeled base and alternative scenarios for energy efficiency targets and renewable procurement, in order to estimate the changes in wholesale electricity costs. Working with VT DPS, and using the REMI model, Synapse then modeled the economic impacts (in terms of jobs, real disposable income, and GSP) of these cost changes, and of the associated investments. Synapse also provided support for the development and presentation of the final plan.
Synapse provided expert testimony on the proposed long-term power purchase contract.
Synapse developed a competitive mechanism for the purchase of water efficiency resources in the Metropolitan Water District service territory of southern California. The project entailed writing a report for NRDC that described the competitive mechanism and how it would function. Synapse also provided explanations for the mechanism to various stakeholder groups, soliciting feedback, and modifying the recommendations.
For this project, Synapse reviewed wholesale market opportunities and recent revenues for demand response in ISO-New England, PJM, SPP, and MISO, with a particular focus on rules and revenues for backup generation. Project completed in August 2011.
Tim Woolf presented “Why Consumer Advocates Should Support Decoupling” at the 2011 ACEEE National Conference on Energy Efficiency as a Resource on September 27, 2011.
This project entailed an analysis of the effect of the Commission Order of December 9, 2009 in Cause 42693 on the August 15, 2008 settlement agreement between the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) and Duke Energy Indiana.
Ezra Hausman presented “Addressing Climate Change While Protecting Consumers” at the NASUCA Annual Meeting on November 16, 2010. The presentation gives an overview of the impacts of global climate change and discusses options for regulatory/market innovations to reduce the impacts, including a new idea for pricing carbon and supporting low-carbon resources.
Synapse assisted the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel by reviewing filings regarding Baltimore Gas & Electric’s pilot AMI program, including the program design and choice, accelerated DSM implementation, technology options, cost-benefit analysis, cost recovery mechanisms and the level of sufficient recovery, and alternatives to the program. Synapse also conducted a similar review of filings by PEPCO and Delmarva to take actions similar to BGE.
Synapse analyzed cost allocation and rate design issues for the Alaska state Attorney General.
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.
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.
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.).