The New England Power Pool recently opened its governance structure to allow non-profits and other customer representatives to become voting members. UCS, along with a coalition of public interest groups, hired Synapse to represent consumer and environmental interests by participating in committee discussions and voting on key issues. Project completed in 2005.
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Clean energy projects added to the electric power grid can reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the power system and qualify for carbon reduction credit under the UNFCCC's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Our analysis of methods for quantifying the amount of carbon reduction credit to attribute to such projects included examination of "build margin" vs. "operating margin" (and combined) approaches, as well as the impact of project size, project timing, project output variability, and other factors. Project completed in October 2005.
Synapse assisted the Department with the development of regulations for a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in New Brunswick. One phase of the project included drafting regulations that will cover all aspects of the RPS, including the definition of eligible resources, the renewable target, treatment of imports, compliance mechanisms, generation information systems, and monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. Another phase of the project included conducting an economic analysis of different RPS proposals. This analysis included a comprehensive assessment of the cost and availability of renewable resources in the region, especially wind generation. It also included an assessment of the demand for renewables, a forecast of wholesale market prices, and an estimate of the renewable premiums associated with different RPS proposals. The economic analysis also identified the likely impact of different renewable portfolio standards on electricity prices. Project completed in December 2005.
Synapse developed a report on the impact of PJM’s proposed Reliability Pricing Model (RPM) on Exelon nuclear facilities' capacity revenues in northern Illinois. At the request of Illinois Citizens Utility Board (CUB), Synapse analyzed the current capacity revenues earned by Exelon’s nuclear fleet in Illinois and compared those revenues to the historical six-year average prices for capacity in PJM and to the RPM “target price” as defined by a benchmark proxy peaker unit. The analysis showed that the capacity revenues for Exelon’s nuclear units in northern Illinois would increase from $100 million (2005) to over $500 million annually under RPM, on average, and that annual earnings under RPM for a single year could be as high as $1.2 billion under extreme scarcity conditions. Project completed in August 2005.
Synapse represented the DPUC Staff in a collaborative process to oversee and provide input concerning energy efficiency programs offered by National Grid, the state's primary electric utility. This work encompassed all aspects of energy efficiency program design and implementation, including efficiency measure assessment, program delivery options, program budgeting, cost-benefit analyses, utility performance incentives, and other relevant regulatory policies. Project completed in December 2005.
Synapse examined the subsidies and hidden costs associated with the operation of the Indian Point nuclear reactors. At the request of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC), Synapse reviewed existing literature to identify and, where possible, quantify the federal and local subsidies and environmental and health costs affecting Indian Point. Project completed in May 2005.
Synapse surveyed electricity procurement in states and Canadian provinces with a focus on how to address affiliate participation in a solicitation by a regulated utility to purchase power. Codes of conduct and affiliate transaction rules were examined. We attempted to distill "best practices" from the set of current industry approaches. Project completed in December 2005.
Synapse reviewed whether the failure of the owners of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station to seek damages from the designer and fabricator of the unit’s original steam generators represented prudent management. Synapse also examined the units’ likely future operating costs and performance. Project completed in May 2005.
Supplemental Testimony Reviewing the Proposed Replacement of the Steam Generators at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
Prior to the 2005 solicitation of supply bids to serve Maine standard offer customers, the Maine Office of Public Advocate requested that Synapse evaluate the 2004 standard offer procurement rules developed and implemented by the Maine Public Utilities Commission pursuant to ME PUC Docket No. 2004-147. Synapse filed comments in the proceeding that recommended the adoption of a portfolio management approach. Key elements included a multi-year procurement horizon and the specific acquisition of renewable resources as a hedge against fossil fuel price uncertainty. Project completed in September 2005.
Reply Comments in Docket No. 2004-147: Strategies for Procuring Residential and Small Commercial Standard Offer Supply in Maine
Procuring Default Service: Relationships between Contract Duration and Contract Price
Synapse investigated whether the proposed sale of the Duane Arnold nuclear power plant was in the interest of the ratepayers. Among the issues addressed in Synapse’s testimony were the plant’s likely costs and operating performance; whether the plant could and should be relicensed; the risks of selling the plant and building a new coal plant in its place; likely future market prices; and whether the proposed sale was structured to benefit shareholders or ratepayers. Project completed in November 2005.
Surrebuttal Testimony of Ezra Hausman Regarding the Retirement of Duane Arnold Energy Center
Direct Testimony of David Schlissel Regarding the Retirement of Duane Arnold Energy Center
Surrebuttal Testimony of David Schlissel Regarding the Retirement of Duane Arnold Energy Center
Synapse investigated the impact that the March 1979 accident has had on the cost of decommissioning Three Mile Island Unit 2. Synapse also evaluated whether ratepayers should have to pay these additional costs. Finally, Synapse examined whether the Three Mile Island Unit 2 decommissioning funds are already fully funded given the likelihood that the start of decommissioning of the facility will be significantly later than previously planned. Project completed March 2005.
Synapse assisted a coalition of intervening parties in a utility environmental compliance settlement involving a multi-unit coal and oil generation station in Salem, MA. Synapse provided an analysis of the impact of future transmission upgrades on the reliability need for coal and oil units that were out of compliance with Massachusetts environmental regulations for air emissions. The interveners were considering possible settlement strategies to allow for the continued operation of the non-compliant units contingent on the addition of specific short-term remedial actions to reduce emissions. Project completed in September 2005.
Synapse conducted electricity price forecasts for St. Lawrence hydro plants. Project completed in March 2005.
Synapse analyzed the procurement approaches used by Ohio utilities for providing default service to retail electricity customers. Project completed June 2005.
Through a grant from The Energy Foundation, Synapse provided technical support to several environmental groups participating in the northeastern Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The clients included: Environment Northeast, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Union of Concerned Scientists. Synapse was involved in reviewing the inputs for the RGGI modeling work and helped the client groups analyze and comment on the modeling results. Project completed in June 2005.
Synapse provided consulting services to the Board regarding its evaluation of Nova Scotia Power’s Open Access Transmission Tariff proposal. Nova Scotia is one of the last remaining Canadian provinces to consider adoption of the US FERC 888 pro forma tariff structure. Synapse evaluated the tariff application and provided expert witness testimony to the Board, focusing on issues that included generation interconnection standards, ancillary service rates, and reciprocity concerns. Project completed in September 2005.
Synapse reviewed numerous categories of documents provided by the defendants during discovery related to Clean Air Act lawsuits against American Electric Power Company and Cinergy Corporation and evaluated whether the public release of these materials would cause competitive harm to the companies. Project completed in January 2005.
The Connecticut DPUC has opened a proceeding to consider possible Alternative Transitional Standard Offers (TSOs) authorized by the legislature. On behalf of the Office of Consumer Counsel, Synapse prepared recommendations for how to structure and procure Alternative TSOs for both renewable energy and energy efficiency products made available to residential and small commercial customers who do not shop for competitive offers. Project completed in November 2004.
Synapse conducted an analysis of several case study utilities in PJM. Synapse estimated the unbundled pre-deregulation prices for the generation portion of bundled electric service and indexed those prices forward in time to allow for comparison with the deregulated generation service market prices. Project completed in August 2004.
Amy Roschelle and Paul Peterson presented “Best Practices in Procurement of Basic Electric Service for Residential and Small C&I Customers: The end of the transition period in Massachusetts” before the Office of Massachusetts Attorney General on May 17, 2004.
Synapse testified and prepared recommendations to the California PUC with regard to California's long-term resource plans for electric utilities. In particular, Synapse focused on making sure plans were clear, comprehensive, forward-looking, and integrated, especially with respect to renewables generation and energy efficiency. To do this, Synapse focused on the concept of scenario planning with respect to carbon emission regulation and gas price forecasts, as well as making sure that transmission lines would be in place to serve renewable generation facilities. In addition, Synapse examined the effect of debt equivalency on long-term contracts for renewables. As a result of our contribution, the CPUC lowered the value of debt equivalency on all long-term contracts. In addition, the CPUC adopted our recommendation regarding carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions with regard to their use in fossil fuel plants. Specifically, the CPUC will consider cleaner generation sources more cost-effective than fossil fuel plant generation sources if the cleaner generation sources prevent carbon emissions at a cost of less than $8 - $25 per ton. Project completed in December 2004.
Rebuttal Testimony Reviewing California Utilities Long Term Resource Plans
Synapse reviewed and reported on mechanisms designed to ensure resource adequacy for regions that have adopted ISO-administered competitive wholesale energy markets. These include demand curves as well as alternative mechanisms.
Synapse and Tellus Institute developed a plan for the aggressive implementation of energy efficiency and renewable resources in seven Interior West states. The analysis included PROSYM electricity market simulation modeling, a technical assessment of cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities, a technical and economic assessment of renewable resource potential, and the development of policies for overcoming market barriers to these clean resources. The study also assessed the role of renewable and distributed generation resources in addressing transmission constraints.
Synapse assisted the company in a rule-making proceeding concerning small, customer-sited distributed generation. Project completed in July 2004.
Bruce Biewald presented “Electric Transmission Technical and Policy Issues” before the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates in Austin, Texas on June 14, 2004.
Synapse evaluated the rate filing of Public Service of Indiana. The results of this evaluation were presented in testimony before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Project completed in July 2004.
Bruce Biewald presented “Electricity Portfolio Management” at the Illinois State University Institute for Regulatory Policy Studies Conference on “Beyond 2006” in Springfield, Illinois on May 20, 2004.
Bruce Biewald presented “Estimating Emissions Reductions from Energy Efficiency in the Northeast” at the ACEEE Summer Study in California in August 2004.
Building on our 2003 work for the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), Synapse analyzed several non-modeling based methods of estimating emission reductions from energy efficiency and renewable energy. Based on a review of numerous papers, Synapse identified three common methods of estimating emission reductions using simplifying assumptions about power system dynamics. Synapse assessed the extent to which each of these methods was likely to provide an accurate and credible assessment of emission reductions. The most promising method sought to identify the marginal generating unit(s) in the relevant system based on a load curve analysis. The report identified several aspects of this method that need to be further investigated to determine how robust the method is. Project completed in November 2004.
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