Synapse was retained by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies to assist in several activities regarding the issue of climate change. For this project, the Synapse team prepared written comments and testimony on climate legislation being considered by Congress; developed agenda, participated and facilitated a major climate conference for state air, energy and utility regulators in February 2008; and coordinated conference calls for global warming, criteria pollutant and agriculture committee on a bi-monthly basis.
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In 2008, Synapse found that the estimated costs of building new coal plants had reached $3,500 per kW not including financing costs, and that costs were still expected to increase further. These cost increases were driven by a worldwide competition for power plant design and construction resources, commodities, equipment, and manufacturing capacity.
On behalf of The Utility Reform Network (TURN), Synapse prepared written comments to submit before the California Energy Commission on greenhouse gas allowance design, including auctioning of allowances and distribution of revenue.
Synapse was contracted by the U.S. EPA to evaluate the air quality impacts from generators that operate during high electric demand days (HEDD) in Connecticut. Based on an evaluation of future electric demand, Synapse evaluated effects of increased energy efficiency and installing additional air pollution controls on the ability of Connecticut to attain compliance with EPA ozone standards. Synapse constructed a stochastic model using emissions reference data from EPA’s emissions tracking system. The model enabled electricity demand to be grown to 2020, using ISO-NE load forecasts and Synapse’s knowledge regarding future Connecticut energy and environmental policies. Model results predicted which generating unit would satisfy demand for each hour, and at what load condition, based on electricity demand.
Synapse assessed the benefits and costs of electric utility efficiency programs in Massachusetts. The types of benefits identified and assessed include, but are not limited to, avoided energy supply costs, demand-reduced-induced price effect, avoided CO2 costs, job creation, and risk reduction. As part of the analysis of utility program costs, the concept of conservation supply curve was explored and the costs of saved energy by Massachusetts utilities and several other utilities in other jurisdictions over many years were examined in detail. The study identified economies of scale in the cost of saved energy in every utility efficiency program, which is that efficiency program costs decreased when program scales expanded.
Synapse subcontracted to Resource Insight to prepare this analysis for the Maryland Office of the People's Counsel. The purpose of the study was to identify the cost and risk benefits to residential customers of alternative strategies for meeting their electricity requirements over a long-term planning period. Using data for a representative investor-owned utility in Maryland, the Synapse team modeled a baseline or reference strategy that reflects a continuation of their existing supply procurement approach, based solely on short-term contracts, as well as several alternative portfolio strategies, involving contracts of varying length as well as efficiency programs. Synapse evaluated the candidate portfolios and the baseline scenario using an Excel-based power-system model with a Monte Carlo simulation capability. This approach allowed the project team to evaluate the performance of each strategy under a large number of possible future scenarios, and to measure that performance both in terms of expected cost and cost variability across all future scenarios.
Paul Peterson presented “Creating a Future” at the REV Distributed Energy Conference in Stratton, Vermont on May 15, 2008, where he discussed energy efficiency and demand response scenarios in ISO New England and a strategy for the future.
Synapse was hired to write a report on selected demand response programs operated by Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO) in the United States. The report looked at market rules, FERC assessments, and RTO-specific sources to evaluate the operational aspects of the programs and the benefits stakeholders receive. The report included a more comprehensive section on demand response programs in New England. Realizing that many demand response programs are in transition around the country, the report was meant to provide a snapshot of practices at the time the research took place.
Synapse consulted for the Division regarding ongoing electric and gas DSM matters in Rhode Island. This involved ongoing work with the RI DSM Collaborative, set up in 1991. In 2007, Synapse’s Tim Woolf prepared testimony supporting a settlement among multiple parties on the design and funding for natural gas demand-side management programs in the state for 2007-2008. This groundbreaking settlement will result in increased energy efficiency in Rhode Island and offers to help increase efficiency of delivery of both electric and gas DSM programs, which will be jointly developed and implemented for future years.
Testimony Regarding National Grid Gas Energy Efficiency Programs
Synapse coordinated a statewide effort to identify and evaluate potential state policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the state of South Carolina. Synapse’s focus was on policies that would affect the electricity supply and demand sectors, including reducing the carbon footprint of the generation mix and improving the efficiency of energy use in the state.
David Schlissel presented “Don’t Get Burned: The Risks of Investing in New Coal-Fired Power Plants” at the NARUC Summer Meetings on July 21, 2008.
Synapse was enlisted by the DCAM to aid them in the drafting of an RFP for Demand Response services at state-owned facilities. Specifically, Synapse was asked to use our pre-existing detailed knowledge of the ISO-NE’s Forward Capacity Market to review the draft RFP. We provided numerous comments and suggestions that would allow RFP respondents to offer more complete proposals that would maximize benefits to the Commonwealth from participation in the FCM.
For the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Synapse assessed the reasonableness of Duke Energy Indiana’s cost estimates for a proposed Edwardsport IGCC project. The Synapse team looked at whether the project was the best resource option for ratepayers and assessed Duke's IRP modeling analyses.
Synapse analyzed the potential economic and environmental impacts of a proposed new coal-fired power plant in southwestern Georgia.
Bruce Biewald presented “Economics of Electric Sector CO2 Emissions Reduction: Making Climate Change Policy That People Can Live With” at the NASUCA 2008 Annual Meeting on November 18, 2008, where he discussed consumer-friendly components of an energy and climate policy.
Synapse was selected by the EPA's Office of Research and Development to identify and develop a methodology for calculating the emissions impact of "green energy" projects, such as wind power, municipal solid waste, and landfill gas generating resources. The goal was to investigate typical output characteristics of these resources on a regional basis, and to identify fossil fuel-based resources which are most likely to be displaced each hour by the green resources, given the operation of the regional electric power grid. Synapse analyzed industry data on resource operations together with information from the EPA's Clean Air Markets database (http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/emissions/index.html), to calculate the emissions benefits from green energy projects throughout the United States. Emissions analyzed include CO2, NOx and SO2. The paper is available for downloading on the EPA's website at http://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/pubs/600r08087.html.
This project looked at integrating energy efficiency (EE) into the PJM capacity market (Reliability Pricing Model) through the PJM stakeholder process. Synapse developed a whitepaper and many related documents for the stakeholder process. Overall, the project was a short-term effort to push EE integration.
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.
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 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.).