Synapse produced a report assessing the economics and costs of a future generation of nuclear power plants. The report, titled "Nuclear Loan Guarantees: Another Taxpayer Bailout Ahead?," explores Congress's nuclear loan guarantee program its potential burdens on taxpayers.
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Synapse assisted the Ohio OCC in responding to a request for comments issued by the Ohio Commission regarding the benefits of participation in RTOs and, specifically, whether Ohio should join a single RTO (Midwest ISO or PJM) rather than continue to participate in both RTOs. The responses, developed jointly by Synapse and the OH OCC, answered a series of detailed questions posed by the OH Commission. Synapse developed an initial set of responses and then a reply set of responses that addressed the comments field by other parties to the proceeding.
Synapse provided advice to Mass Energy Consumers Alliance, a local non-profit organization that both advocates and acts in the marketplace on behalf of consumers and the environment, regarding their ability to participate in New England's Forward Capacity Market. The FCM is the first capacity market to allow small on-site generation resources to be compensated for the capacity they provide to the regional grid.
Synapse was involved in a three-year effort in coordination with Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and District of Columbia advocates to monitor RTO activities in PJM. The central focus of the project was on RPM development and also market monitoring, transmission planning, and load forecasts.
Synapse evaluated and issued direct testimony on the costs and risks of proceeding with proposed Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 nuclear power plants in Georgia. The project also entailed reviewing an updated Georgia Power Company's Integrated Resource Plan.
In 2009, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) retained Marbek Resource Consultants (Marbek) to prepare a report on strategies and conditions which enable aggressive energy efficiency. These strategies and conditions encompass policies, regulatory frameworks and institutional arrangements. Synapse assisted Marbek with its review of these issues in the U.S. Synapse also contributed a whitepaper addressing the major financial incentives of utilities that need to be aligned with aggressive pursuit of energy efficiency. The paper presented the problems that utilities in general have experienced over the years due to mismatches between their financial incentives and the pursuit of energy efficiency, and the general approaches to correcting that problem. The paper also presented an overview of the current financial incentives of Ontario electricity distribution companies relative to the pursuit of energy efficiency, and suggested steps to further improve that alignment.
Synapse modeled the impacts of a range of cap-and-trade allowance allocation scenarios on consumer and generator welfare in regulated and deregulated electricity markets in the United States. The analysis, which represents the early years of a national cap-and-trade program before generation changes or load reductions can be implemented, is unique in its treatment of economic impacts at the generating plant level, and in its focus on consumer impacts at the state and regional levels. The results indicated that cap-and-trade regulation will result in consumer-funded windfall profits for certain generators in deregulated electricity markets, and that any free allowance allocation to merchant generators will increase these windfall profits and the cost to consumers. Results are presented at the RTO and state levels to highlight regional differences in these impacts.
Productive and Unproductive Costs of CO2 Cap-and-Trade: NASUCA Consumer Protection Committee Conference Call
Synapse provided analysis of Public Service Enterprise Group filing for rate recovery of solar photovoltaic investment and provision of testimony addressing Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) treatment.
For this project, Synapse assessed the risks of constructing a new nuclear power plant in Calvert County, Maryland. David Schlissel provided direct testimony before the Public Service Commission of Maryland presenting these risks.
Synapse evaluated the economics of a proposed coal plant in Louisiana. Synapse found that Energy Louisiana 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. The Louisiana Public Service Commission approved the plant; however, Sierra Club sought judicial review of that decision.
Synapse provided facilitation, policy, and technical analyses for the Alaska climate change action planning process to develop state policies that will lead to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the Energy Supply and Residential, Commercial, and Industrial sectors in Alaska. Synapse facilitated one of the Working Groups of the Alaska Climate Change Mitigation Advisory Group (MAG). The Working Group included representatives from state and local governments, utilities, businesses, the building and green energy sectors, environmental groups, and the research community. In addition to facilitating the Working Group, Synapse analyzed and estimated the cost of and potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 through a number of policy mechanisms. For the energy supply sector, these include expanded use of renewable energy including direct heating, improved efficiency of new and existing power plants, and transmission optimization and expansion. For the residential, commercial, and industrial sector, policies included state and utility efficiency programs, appliance standards, and building codes.
Synapse was retained to review aspects of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) policy and associated state policies, with the aim of implementing consistent and effective policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions at reasonable cost while minimizing "leakage," or electric system policy boundary, problems.
Synapse was directed by the EPA to prepare a report on several aspects of back-up generators (BUGs). These include how BUGs are used in various RTOs around the US; applicable rules and requirements for air permits and operation; the number of BUGs deployed and their potential air quality impacts.
For this project, Synapse reviewed KCPL’s IRP for consistency with law on the supply side for renewable resources. Tom Franks, of Optimal Energy, acted in a subcontractor role and focused on aspects of demand-side management.
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 assisted Western Resource Advocates and its local affiliate, NCARE, in developing a clean energy planning model to show how renewable resources can meet Nevada’s future power needs and produce economic benefits at minimal cost to ratepayers. Synapse developed a clean development model that shows how transmission investments support renewables, along with aggressive development of renewable and energy efficiency potential in the state, can more than meet Nevada’s electricity needs without relying on expensive and CO2-emitting new resources such as a proposed coal plant.
Synapse served as a technical advisor to Division on all DSM activity, mainly through participation in DSM collaborative meetings.
Synapse was retained by Arkansas Public Service Commission staff as a subcontractor to Larkin Associates to provide assistance for a variety of projects related to electric resource planning and power procurement during July 2006 through June 2007. The first project evaluated whether Entergy Arkansas Inc. (EAI)’s proposed acquisition of a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) capacity was in the public interest. Tasks included the preparation of a background report on fuel diversity policies and practices, and testimony supporting the findings. This work assisted the Commission in its determination of whether to recommend the adoption of a fuel diversity standard under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005).
Synapse also evaluated the economics of a proposed coal plant in southwestern Arkansas. Synapse found that the Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) 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.
Additionally, Synapse reviewed changes to Entergy’s avoided cost methodology, and a proposed scrubber installation on an existing plant. All projects were completed August 2009.
Surrebuttal Testimony on Entergy Arkansas Avoided Cost Computation Methodology
Arkansas Electric Generation Fuel Diversity: Implementation of EPAct 2005 Amendments to PURPA Section 111 (d)
Testimony Addressing the Economic Impact of SWEPCO Proposed Hempstead Project
Phase II (AC) Direct Testimony Regarding Entergy Arkansas Inc. Request for Approval of New Capacity
Phase II (A) Surrebuttal Testimony Regarding Entergy Arkansas Inc. Request for Approval of New Capacity
Phase II (B) Direct Testimony Regarding Entergy Arkansas Inc. Request for Approval of New Capacity
Rachel Wilson presented “The Energy-Water Nexus: Interactions, Challenges, and Policy Solutions” at the National Drinking Water Symposium on October 13, 2009.
Synapse was retained to evaluate whether there are lower cost alternatives to the relicensing of the Indian Point Nuclear Power plants for an additional twenty years of operating life.
Synapse produced a report assessing the risks of the building of a proposed new coal power plant in Washington County, Georgia. The report analyzed construction and CO2 costs and potential alternatives to the plant.
The Risks of Building and Operating Plant Washington
Synapse provided expert witness services to the Vermont Conservation Law Foundation during litigation on new organizational models for the Vermont Efficiency Utility, a leading example in the nation of independent third-party administration of electric energy efficiency programs.
Prefiled Rebuttal Testimony Addressing the Structure of the Vermont State Energy Efficiency Utility
This project consisted of a review of the 2008 integrated resource plan filed by AmerenUE.
For this project, Synapse analyzed energy efficiency and demand response alternatives to a proposed transmission upgrade in the Portland, ME area.
Synapse and Lanzalotta Associates analyzed the proposed $1 billion TrAIL 500 kV transmission line from southwestern Pennsylvania to northern Virginia for the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate. Their findings included recommendations to implement energy efficiency and demand response in the West Penn Power service territory of Allegheny Power to reduce local loading, and to reinforce the 138 kV system in the area, instead of building one portion of the proposed line, the segment between 502 Junction and Prexy in PA. The findings also included a recommendation for more rigorous analysis of the overall need for the remaining portion of the line between 502 Junction and Loudoun (No. VA), given PJM’s minimal analysis of the effect of federal CO2 regulation on the claimed PJM dispatch efficiencies and production cost savings associated with the line.
Synapse was retained to assess economics of proposed 500 kV line with emphasis on analysis and critique of Hydro One computation of locked-in energy associated with alternative projects.
In conjunction with Lanzalotta Associates, Synapse evaluated the proposal by Central Maine Power to upgrade local area supply from 34.5 kV to 115 kV in Southern Maine. Synapse assessed the ability for conservation, energy efficiency, and demand response to reduce projected load increases and allow for a less expensive upgrade to the local sub-transmission system. Synapse and Lanzalotta are jointly sponsoring testimony before the Maine Public Service Commission.
David Schlissel presented “Are There Nukes in Our Future?” before the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates on June 24, 2008. Topics covered include factors that have led to rising power plant construction costs; nuclear power and climate change; and risks for ratepayers, plant owns, and investors.
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.
Ezra Hausman and Chris James presented “Cap and Trade CO2 Regulation: Efficient Mitigation or a Give-away?” at the ELCON Spring Workshop in Nashville, Tennessee on June 3, 2008. The presentation covered issues such as cap and trade design considerations, auction versus allocation, and cap and trade policies in regulated and deregulated electricity markets.
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