In 2008, Synapse worked with the Stockholm Environment Institute on a comprehensive literature review of the expected impacts of climate change on the dryland ecosystems of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency. The final report, written in collaboration with the SEI and an IPCC adaptation author, explored the expected impacts of climate change on the Middle East and the Saudi peninsula, and dryland ecosystems. Generally, it is unknown if precipitation will increase or decrease in the hot and hyper-arid region due to climate change, but it is expected that temperatures will increase. Ecosystems already adapted to arid to hyper-arid environmental conditions are likely to be subjected to stresses of increased nighttime temperatures, less predictable rainfall, and shifting seasonality. The Synapse report found that the most significant impacts of climate change in the Saudi peninsula are expected to be coupled with anthropogenic (human) environmental stresses, such as development in critical corridors and overgrazing of marginal grass and shrublands. The report suggested research, modeling, and mitigation techniques to explore the impacts and adaptation potential, culminating in a recommendation to pursue an adaptive management mechanism to increase resilience in this marginal environment.
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Synapse provided services to the Pennsylvania Office of the Consumer Advocate regarding several wholesale power system issues. Our major focus was on PJM’s Reliability Pricing Model (RPM) proposal for a new capacity market structure. Our work in this regard included participation in settlement discussions in the summer and fall of 2007, as well as significant effort on developing a process for implementing reliability and economic transmission system upgrades and the cost allocation metric associated with those upgrades. In addition, we perform periodic work on Market Monitoring and Demand Resource issues.
Synapse forecasted ten years of clearing prices for New England's Forward Capacity Market (FCM) using results from the first auction and knowledge of the electric sector in New England.
Synapse was engaged to critique cost benefit analyses of various remediation plans for the West Valley nuclear waste processing site and to improve the comprehensiveness of costs and benefits considered.
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.
PJM began implementation of the Reliability Pricing Model (RPM) capacity construct in the spring of 2007. Synapse prepared a paper examining the issue of how the overall efficiency of the RPM capacity construct could be improved through the aggressive incorporation of demand resources.
Synapse was retained by the Maine Public Utilities Commission to evaluate the potential for increasing demand response in Maine. Project work involved estimating the potential for incremental peak load reduction in Maine, describing the most promising demand response technologies, describing the most promising policies and programs to capture the demand response potential, identifying and discussing potential barriers, and suggesting steps to encourage increased demand response in the state.
Synapse was retained to collaborate with Nova Scotia Power on its Integrated Resource Planning process. Synapse reviewed the input assumptions and developed a modeling plan. The IRP analysis used the Strategist model. Synapse's work on this IRP included research on a wide range of issues, including the DSM potential study, the fuel price forecasts, the construction costs of new generating capacity, the integration of variable output wind to the NS grid, the prospects for and implications of future carbon emissions regulations, and the evaluation of alternate resource plans.
Evidence of David Nichols Regarding Nova Scotia Power Inc Demand Side Management Plan
In a presentation titled “Kansas is Note Alone: The New Climate for Coal,” David Schlissel and Ezra Hausman presented on the fate of proposed coal-fired power plants in Kansas and other states where plans were rejected by regulators in light of uncertain construction costs and future environmental costs. They also discussed states’ climate action plans and Kansas’s potential for wind and energy efficiency.
Synapse analyzed the Long Term Procurement Plans of three investor-owned utilities for the California Office of the Ratepayer Advocate, including aspects of competitive procurement procedures, least cost planning, risk management metrics and processes, and prepared prefiled testimony on those topics. In addition, Synapse evaluated novel proposals under which the investor-owned utilities are to auction off the energy rights to certain resources procured for their capacity value only, as well as providing support to the Office in mediation workshops on the energy rights auction issue.
Testimony Report Regarding Long-Term Procurement Plans of Southern California Edison Company
Testimony Report Regarding Long-Term Procurement Plans of San Diego Gas and Electric Company
This project involved a review of a proposed allocation increase in gas utility revenue requirements among customer classes.
Synapse was retained to evaluate the economic impact of converting the Millstone Nuclear Power Plants from once-through to closed-cycle cooling.
The Sierra Club retained Synapse to provide testimony on the proper goals, approach, and methods for IRP preparation by Mississippi’s electric utilities. Synapse provided pre-filed and oral testimony on IRP, supply planning, T&D issues, energy efficiency and load control, and related topics in the Mississippi Commission’s generic proceeding on resource planning.
Reply Testimony of Ezra Hausman Before the Mississippi Public Service Commission to Review Statewide Electric Generation Needs
Reply Testimony of William Steinhurst Before the Mississippi Public Service Commission to Review Statewide Electric Generation Needs
Synapse analyzed alternative demand response pilot project proposals in the state of New Jersey, participated in a working group process to develop DR program, and recommended “piggy-back” of the demand response program onto the PJM demand response mechanisms.
For the GRACE Foundation, Synapse examined the economics and capital costs of next generation nuclear power plants. The study considered the costs of existing domestic and international nuclear plants, as well as potential impacts of worldwide competition for power plant commodities, nuclear and financial industry views, and comparative costs of energy efficiency and renewables programs.
In 2008, Synapse prepared a paper discussing the dramatic increase in cost estimates for new nuclear power plants, the reasons for the increase, and why it is reasonable to expect that the actual costs will exceed expected costs.
For Niagara Mohawk service territory in New York State, Synapse developed projections of electric energy and capacity costs which will be avoided due to reductions in electricity use and natural gas costs that will be avoided due to reductions in natural gas use. Deliverables included detailed projections for an initial fifteen year period beginning in 2007 and escalation rates for another fifteen years from 2022 through 2037.
For this project, Synapse performed a detailed analysis of the impacts of distributed generation resources on wholesale electric energy prices and air emissions in Massachusetts. Impacts analyzed include potential reductions on the level of wholesale electricity market prices and associated air emissions.
In “Prime Time for Efficiency,” published in Public Utilities Fortnightly, Synapse’s Doug Hurley and authors from the Conservation Law Foundation discuss how including demand resources in ISO-New England’s forward capacity market created business and regulatory structures to allow reduced and managed energy use to be as financially rewarding as building another power plant.
Synapse was asked to evaluate the need for and the economics of Duke Energy Carolinas’ (“Duke” or “the Company”) Cliffside Project consisting of two 800 MW coal-fired generating units. Synapse’s testimony demonstrated that Duke had not adequately considered the potential for federal greenhouse gas regulations, had not adequately considered energy efficiency and renewable technologies as alternatives to the proposed 800 MW coal-fired plants, and had not shown a need for the generating facilities. Synapse also testified that the Company’s planning methodology was flawed and, therefore, that the modeling analyses presented by Duke did not show that the proposed plants were the lowest cost option. On the basis of this testimony Synapse recommended that the North Carolina Utilities Commission not grant a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the proposed Cliffside Project. The Commission agreed, in part, and only granted a Certificate for one of the two proposed coal-fired units.
Supplemental Testimony Evaluation Duke Energy Proposal for Two Cliffside Project Coal Units
Reply Comments Regarding Implementation of Energy Efficiency and DSM Programs in North Carolina, Docket No. E-100, Sub 110
Synapse was asked to prepare testimony and to speak in Kansas about the economic risks associated with the proposed 2100 MW Holcolm Expansion power plant.
Synapse evaluated the economics of the proposed coal plant in Iowa. Synapse found that Alliant Energy 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. Synapse also found that a portfolio of energy efficiency, wind resources, and natural gas capacity was a lower cost option.
Bruce Biewald presented “Prudent Planning and New Coal Fired Power Generation” at the CERES Conference on April 29, 2008. The presentation included a discussion of prudent electric system planning practices, including actively seeking out relevant information, relying on up-to-date and realistic construction cost estimates, including reasonable CO2 price forecasts in the reference case and analyzing high and low sensitivities, and fully considering alternatives.
Synapse facilitated a workgroup to develop, prioritize, and recommend action items that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the Residential, Commercial, and Industrial (RCI) sector.
Synapse evaluated the economics of a proposed coal plant in southern Wisconsin.
Direct Testimony of Bob Fagan on the Application of Alliant Energy for the Construction of a New Coal-Fired Generating Unit
Surrebuttal Testimony of David Schlissel on the Application of Alliant Energy for the Construction of a New Coal-Fired Generating Unit
Surrebuttal Testimony of Bob Fagan on the Application of Alliant Energy for the Construction of a New Coal-Fired Generating Unit
Synapse evaluated American Municipal Power’s proposed 960 MW coal-fired power plant in Meigs County, Ohio and whether AMP-Ohio had adequately considered the risks associated with that proposed plant in its resource planning for its member communities. Synapse also examined the costs (including construction costs and the cost of CO2 regulations) of the proposed plant and of alternatives to the proposed plant. Synapse found that AMP-Ohio had not prudently evaluated the potential for further increases in the project’s cost or the likely costs of federal regulations of greenhouse gas emissions. The Ohio Power Plant Siting Board approved the plant.
As part of APPA’s Electric Markets Reform Initiative, Synapse was asked to investigate whether or not today’s RTOs have produced a healthy environment for managing electricity procurement costs through bilateral contracting. Synapse found that while bilateral contracts are widely recognized as crucial to the functioning of truly competitive electricity markets, RTOs have failed to create an environment conducive to the vigorous, competitive, long-term bilateral contracting that would provide the most benefits to consumers.
Synapse prepared a detailed assessment of the Bush Administration’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) plan to institute the reprocessing of light water reactor spent fuel and to build a large number of fast breeder reactors. As part of GNEP, the United States also would provide nuclear fuel to and would take back the spent fuel from any countries that committed to not seek their own fuel enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing facilities.
Synapse assisted the Office of the People's Counsel of the District of Columbia (OPC) in reviewing and analyzing Potomac Electric Power Company’s (PEPCO’s) application for its “Blueprint for the Future”. PEPCO filed this application on April 4, 2007 with the D.C. Commission for authorization to establish a demand side management (DSM) cost recovery mechanism, an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) rate adjustment mechanism, a DSM collaborative, and an AMI advisory group that it plans to implement in all of its service territories.
The Ohio Consumer Counsel retained Synapse to critique proposed rules on energy efficiency portfolio standards and greenhouse gas reporting. Synapse also assisted in preparation of comments filed by OCC.
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