Synapse was retained by UCS to write a report that describes the potential for new and existing coal plants, located just outside the boundaries of RGGI, to dilute the initiative's environmental objectives. Construction of new coal plants and upgrades and construction of new transmission lines could increase the imported quantity of coal-fired electricity into the RGGI region.
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Synapse authored Don’t Get Burned, a report on the risks of investing in new coal-fired power plants. Synapse also spoke on this subject to rating agencies, investment analysts, investors, and regulatory commissioners. The risks to investors identified in our report include federally mandated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, state actions that would adversely affect the need and relative economics of coal-fired power plants, uncertainties related to carbon capture and sequestration, more stringent regulation of non-greenhouse gas emissions, increasing construction costs and schedule delays, and uncertainties regarding the recovery of plant construction and operating costs.
Don`t Get Burned: The Risks of Investing in New Coal-Fired Generating Facilities ‒ Presentation
Synapse spoke to rating agencies and investment analysts concerning the financial risks of investing in new nuclear power plants.
Synapse prepared testimony related to carbon price and escalation of construction costs for coal plants. Synapse testified before the Nevada Public Service Commission regarding our findings, and afterward developed a report based on our testimony.
Synapse provided assistance to DC OPC effort to modify procurement rules for Standard Offer Service. DC PSC deferred all activity in this proceeding pending the outcome of other regulatory proceedings.
Synapse provided analytical assistance to SEI/CCS and evaluated a number of policies and programs to tackle climate change, including utility energy efficiency programs and renewable energy portfolio standards. More specifically, we evaluated costs of and energy and emissions savings from those policies/programs.
Synapse assisted The Cape Light Compact with their comments to the MA DPU regarding a decoupling docket and the impacts it had on energy efficiency programs implemented by a municipal aggregator.
Synapse subcontracted to the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts University to write a chapter on the costs and risks of climate change to the electricity energy sector for a report presented by the NRDC. The chapter explored current energy infrastructure in the US and how it might be put at risk from climate change, as well as how energy use could be expected to change under a changing climate. Synapse created a regionally explicit model of hourly energy use in 2005, and applied expected seasonal temperature changes to each region to estimate expected per-capita energy consumption in 2025, 2050, 2075, and 2100. With energy consumption increasing during summer peak periods in warm climates, the costs of procuring power in the south (Florida in particular) and southwest (S. California) resulted in high costs to consumers in those regions. Lower consumption of electricity, gas, and oil in northern latitudes provided net savings for a limited number of consumers. Ultimately, the analysis concluded that climate change could result in net costs of $28 billion per annum by 2025 and $141 billion per annum by 2100. These costs did not include the risk of losing coastal power plants and other infrastructure to coastal flooding. To view the results of the project, please visit http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/cost/contents.asp.
The National Regulatory Research Institute (NRRI) retained Synapse to prepare a primer on the U.S. electric industry for public utility commissioners and public utility commission staff. The primer provides basic information on the U.S. electric industry. It assumes only a basic understanding of the nature and purpose of utility regulation. While it addresses issues related to ratemaking, it is not an introduction to rate setting. Section I reviews the overall nature of the industry and of power production and use. Section II breaks down the industry into segments and discusses their recent and current status and organization. Section III (written by Scott Hempling of NRRI) covers regulatory jurisdiction, while Section IV identifies some of the critical issues facing the industry and its regulators.
Kenji Takahashiand David Nichols presented “The Sustainability and Costs of Increasing Efficiency Impacts: Evidence from Experience to Date” at the ACEEE Summer Conference on August 20, 2008. Issues discussed include high annual electric energy savings through energy efficiency programs, sustainability of high energy savings, the conservation supply curve, and trends in cost of saved energy.
The Sustainability and Costs of Increasing Efficiency Impacts: Evidence from Experience to Date (paper)
In March 2008, Synapse participated in a California Public Utilities Commission workshop on greenhouse gas adders in Market Price Referent (MPR) methodology. Synapse’s presentation focused on the appropriate greenhouse gas adder to consider when entering into long-term electricity contracts with renewable resources, and is based upon Synapse’s carbon price forecasts.
For the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Synapse performed an analysis of a Nova Scotia proposal to convert two existing simple-cycle combustion turbines into a single combined-cycle unit with duct firing. Synapse reached the conclusion that the Board should proceed with Nova Scotia Power’s proposed combined-cycle conversion without the addition of the extra 25 MW of capacity from duct firing. The efficiency penalty imposed on the plant through the addition of duct firing was found to reduce the economic benefit to the point where duct firing was not justifiable.
For this project, Synapse provided comments to TURN for submission to the California Public Utilities Commission (CA PUC) for Greenhouse Gas Docket R 06-04-009 CPUC . Project work included attending a CA PUC workshop held in San Francisco on May 6, 2008 on greenhouse gas and E3 carbon allocation modeling.
Synapse conducted a valuation of the Moore Hydroelectric Facility in Littleton, NH to ensure that their tax valuations are fair and up-to-date. As projected power prices have climbed over the past few years, the value of carbon-free hydroelectric generating resources has increased dramatically. This is because these plants get the benefit of higher electricity prices but pay none of the higher fuel and emissions costs. Facilities which had declined in value during the early years of deregulation can now have a market value of two or three times what it would have been just three or four years ago. Synapse has worked with a number of cities and towns in New England that depend on property taxes from these resources.
Synapse evaluated the economics of the proposed coal plant in Wise County, Virginia. Synapse found that Dominion Virginia Power 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 Corporation Commission of Virginia approved the plant, but limited recovery to the currently proposed construction costs unless the company proves that future cost increases are prudent.
In response to the requirements of EPAct 2005 Title XII, the DC Public Service Commission issued Order No.14239, requesting comments regarding whether and to what extent the Commission should implement additional fuel diversity standards specifically for Pepco. Synapse provided advice and written support to the Office of People’s Counsel for its comments in response to the DC Public Service Commission’s request.
Bruce Biewald presented “Air Emissions Issues Associated DER in the Mid-Atlantic Region” before the Mid-Atlantic State Energy and Environment Workshop: State, Local, and Federal Approach for Distributed Energy Resources on September 27, 2007.
Synapse assisted UCS with an assessment of the prospects for additional coal-fired electric power generation in the Midwest to serve demand in the Northeast. This analysis considered transmission constraints, headroom for existing coal units to increase capacity factors, and carbon dioxide emissions cap and trade regulation.
As part of this project, Synapse Senior Associate Bob Fagan testified at FERC on PJM cost allocation mechanism for merchant transmission projects between NJ and NY.
Synapse assisted the Department of Justice in litigation brought by Boston Edison regarding the sale price of the Pilgrim Nuclear Station. Synapse’s testimony addressed the risks faced by the purchaser of a nuclear power plant in 1998.
Project work included reviewing Avista Utilities proposals for funding of low-income programs.
For this project, Synapse reviewed Avista Utilities proposals for funding of low income programs, a power cost only rate case (PCORC) mechanism, changes in its accounting treatment of DSM Program costs, recovery of fixed costs lost to DSM and investments in advanced meters.
At the request of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Synapse collaborated with Bill Moomaw, Director of the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Tufts University, to write a report on carbon emissions mitigation options in the Northeast. Synapse reviewed various resource options such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, and load response. The report recommends that carbon emissions could potentially be stabilized with annual emission reductions of 3%.
Synapse advised Tokyo Gas Company, a large natural gas utility in Japan, with regard to the implications of climate change policy on its business opportunities and risks.
Synapse was hired to prepare an expert reports on electric power system issues related to the EPA New Source Review. Bruce Biewald testified in a deposition prior to the settlement of the case. Project completed in July 2007.
This report is designed to assist utilities, regulators, consumer advocates and others in projecting the future cost of complying with carbon dioxide regulations in the United States. These cost forecasts are necessary for use in long-term electricity resource planning, in electricity resource economics, and in utility risk management.
For this project, Synapse reviewed a ISO-NE Scenario Analysis report and developed a Companion Report that evaluated two additional scenarios for greater EE, DR, renewables, and reduced carbon resources.
Doug Hurley presented “Composite Offers in the FCM” at the Demand Resource Summit on May 2, 2007.
For this project, Synapse analyzed issues associated with proposals to decouple annual revenues of electric distribution utilities from their annual kWh deliveries.
Reply Comments Regarding Rate Structures that will Promote Efficient Deployment of Demand Resources in Massachusetts (D.P.U. 07-50)
Synapse provided consulting and advice to the Conservation Law Foundation in support of development of a regional approach to decoupling.
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