Synapse investigated the sources of air pollution in Queens County, assessed their local impact on air quality, and recommended remedies for the sources causing the greatest threat to public health. The study included evaluations of energy efficiency resources, unit repowering, emissions control technologies, and other options for improving air quality. The PROSYM model was used to develop a cohesive clean air plan for the county. Project completed in May 2003.
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Air Quality In Queens County: Opportunities for Cleaning Up the Air in Queens County and Neighboring Regions
Synapse developed a clean electricity plan for the Hudson River Valley. While the plan explored options for reducing electricity use and adding new renewable generation throughout the Valley, it focused on reducing the environmental impacts of four, older power plants on the lower Hudson River: Bowline, Lovett, Danskammer and Roseton. As part of the work, Synapse modeled the future operation of these plants in a "business-as-usual" scenario, prioritized action in terms of the plants' environmental impacts and assessed a variety of options for reducing the water and air impacts from the plants.
Synapse prepared an affidavit discussing the decision to burn only oil (and not natural gas) at the proposed Jamaica Bay Peaking Facility. The affidavit also explained that the proposed peaking power plant would share numerous components with an existing gas-fired unit on the same site. Project completed in March 2003.
Synapse conducted an analysis of electricity price trends in the ComEd service territory with and without a proposed merger and legislated rate increase. Synapse also applied the REMI model to estimate the employment and other economic impacts associated with the rate increase. Project completed in December 2003.
Fewer Jobs for Illinois: Employment and Other Impacts of Commonwealth Edison’s Proposed Electricity Rate Increase
Synapse reviewed the recent electricity consumption and billing history of all the Audubon facilities located in Massachusetts. Synapse compared the default and standard offer prices available from the local electric company with competitive electric power options, and advised Audubon how to purchase their electricity. Project completed in October 2003.
Synapse reviewed the proposals for a credit-based system for the PJM Generation Attribute Tracking System (GATS), in order to comply with environmental disclosure rules and other environmental policies. Synapse also assisted the OPC with comments provided to the Maryland Public Utilities Commission and presented oral testimony at Commission hearings. Project completed in December 2003.
Synapse evaluated whether Rockland Electric Company’s power purchases during the period from August 1999 through July 2003 were prudent. Synapse prepared an audit report concluding that the Company was imprudent for failing to enter into a multi-year power purchase agreement when it divested all of its generating facilities in 1999. Project completed in July 2003.
Following the August 14, 2003 blackout that affected approximately 50 million customers of the interconnected Eastern North America grid, Synapse produced a memo that detailed what happened, what caused the blackout, and improvements that could be made to prevent future region-wide outages.
Synapse reviewed the modeling of various climate policies for ten northeast states. The policies included renewable portfolio standards and carbon emissions cap-and-trade. Project completed in December 2003.
Synapse prepared an estimate of the likely impact of a proposed renewable portfolio standard on electricity rates in Vermont. The analysis was based on a detailed “supply curve” of potential new renewable resources in the New England region, as well as potential imports from Canada and New York. The analysis considered two different renewable standards, one where renewables were broadly defined (including small hydro projects and all biomass), and one where renewables were limited to those eligible in the Massachusetts and Connecticut renewable portfolio standards. The report was presented to the Board and used to inform the Vermont RPS Collaborative discussions. Project completed in October 2003.
Paul Peterson presented “Default Service Considerations for Competitive Markets” at the New England Conference of Public Utility Commissioners Symposium in Providence, Rhode Island on June 9, 2003.
Synapse analyzed the value that renewable resources offer when acting as a hedge against volatile fossil-fuel prices. The analysis focused on the risk of fossil-fuel prices increasing over time in response to future environmental regulations. Synapse prepared a summary of recent activities to regulate or otherwise control CO2 emissions, and developed a quantitative estimate of the hedge value of emission-free renewables. The results were presented in the testimony of Tim Woolf before the California Public Utilities Commission, Docket No. 01-10-024. Project completed in April 2003.
Synapse worked with UCS to encourage the development of effective load response programs in New England and to ensure that such programs were consistent with the long term goal of environmental quality. This project identified options for “clean” load response, determined how to incorporate these options in load response programs, and worked through stakeholder and regulatory processes to develop effective load response programs. In addition, Synapse participated in regional coordination efforts on load response with Pace Energy Center and Project for Sustainable FERC Energy Policy. Project completed in December 2003.
Synapse examined the feasibility and costs of meeting Ontario's commitments under the US-Canadian Ozone Annex by phasing out coal generation at the Nanticoke and Lambton power stations. Project completed in April 2003.
Synapse prepared a report on the proposed Maryland Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The analysis examined benefits of the policy, experiences in other states, elements of a successful RPS, renewable power generation resource options, and projected cost impacts of the policy. Project completed in April 2003.
Synapse analyzed settlement agreements in two Vermont rate cases and made recommendations for clarification and modification; specifically, the return on equity in one of the settlements was found to be too high. Neil Talbot prepared testimony that supported an alternative return. Project completed in December 2003.
Rate Schedules Analyzing Settlements in VT Electric Utility Rate Cases
Synapse conducted multi-area electricity market simulation analysis using the PROSYM-MULTISYM model to support analysis of generation, transmission, and demand-side resource options available to serve electric service needs in New York City. Project completed in April 2003.
Synapse examined the economic theory and methodology supporting the calculation of environmental externality values. These values were used in distributed utility planning in Vermont. The analysis was conducted by Dr. Frank Ackerman, Director of the Research and Policy Program at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University. Project completed in February 2003.
At the request of the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel, the Maine Office of the Public Advocate, and the New Hampshire Office of Consumer Advocate, Synapse analyzed the impact that the FERC’s incentive pricing policy would have on New England transmission costs. The report details the results of that analysis based on estimates of the value of New England’s transmission facilities, as well as the value of facilities proposed for construction over the next several years.
The Nevada Public Utilities Commission opened a docket to revisit the integrated resource planning regulations that have guided utility planning over the last decade. The regulations have been updated to account for new renewable portfolio standard requirements in Nevada, as well as recent developments in the electricity industry. Synapse assisted the BCP in providing comments at Commission workshops and in recommending modifications for the new regulations. Topics included the identification and evaluation of appropriate supply-side resources, the design and evaluation of demand-side resources, the integration of demand and supply-side resources, load forecasting, accounting for environmental impacts, and cost recovery issues.
Synapse estimated the potential for implementing cost-effective efficiency programs on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard through the year 2015. The estimates were based on efficiency measures and programs included in the Compact’s Energy Efficiency Plan: 2003-2007, and thus were based on real-world efficiency opportunities. The study investigated several different scenarios, including one to eliminate future load growth and one to stabilize CO2 emissions. Project completed in May 2003.
Synapse performed a comprehensive assessment of the emissions impacts of demand response programs in New England. As ISO New England continues to refine its nascent electricity markets, there is widespread interest in facilitating demand response (DR) -- the ability for customers to respond to high prices by reducing electricity use or producing their own electricity onsite. There is also widespread interest in the net air emissions impacts of DR.
Synapse assessed the net emissions impacts of selected DR programs using the PROSYM/PROMOD dispatch model. The programs assessed included the economic DR program proposed by ISO New England for the summer of 2003, an economic DR program proposed by the New England Demand Response Initiative (NEDRI) for the summer of 2004, and several scenarios that explored key variables and uncertainties in these programs. In addition, Synapse modeled several energy efficiency programs in order to compare the emissions impacts of these programs to the DR programs. For all programs assessed, Synapse explored both the emissions impacts of DR operation and the impacts of new DR capacity on ISO unit commitment. Project completed in May 2003.
Synapse reviewed whether Central Maine Power Company's proposed 69 kV transmission was needed to ensure adequate system capability and reliability in York County, Maine or whether a lower voltage line, demand side management, and/or distributed generation would have been adequate. Synapse also evaluated whether part of the proposed line could have been installed underground or inside existing transmission line rights of way. Project completed in July 2003.
In testimony filed at the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in September and October 2003, Synapse found that the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation was over-collecting from ratepayers for funds that would be needed to decommission the Kewaunee Nuclear Plant at the projected end of its service life. Project completed in September 2003.
Surrebuttal Testimony Reviewing Kewaunee Nuclear Plant Decommissioning Costs
Synapse evaluated technical and economic issues related to Entergy Arkansas' decision to replace the steam generators and the reactor vessel head at the Arkansas Nuclear One Unit 1 nuclear plant. Project completed in June 2003.
Direct Testimony of Neil Talbot in the Empire District Electric Co. General Rate Case
On behalf of the Regulatory Assistance Project and the Energy Foundation, Synapse prepared a manual on Portfolio Management that reflects state-of-the-art thinking on integrated resource planning, energy efficiency program planning, and risk management for electric utilities. Project completed in October 2003.
Tim Woolf presented “Potential Cost Impacts of a Vermont Renewable Portfolio Standard” to the Vermont RPS Collaborative on September 11, 2003. The presentation summarized Synapse’s report of the same name prepared for the Vermont Public Service Board.
In July 2003, NRDC retained Synapse to develop a white paper reviewing the literature on selected benefits of a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The resulting report was titled "Cleaner Air, Fuel Diversity, and High-Quality Jobs: Reviewing Selected Potential Benefits of an RPS in New York State." The report was submitted by The Renewable Energy Technology and Environment Coalition (RETEC) in the New York Public Service Commission's proceeding reviewing the proposed New York RPS.
Subsequently, Synapse commented on work submitted by other parties. During August and September 2003, Synapse evaluated studies of the potential cost of such a standard prepared by other parties and summarized the findings in a report titled "Comments on the RPS Cost Analyses of the Joint Utilities and the DPS Staff." This report was also submitted by RETEC for the record in that proceeding. In June 2004, the Public Service Commission issued a recommended decision in support of the RPS. Project completed in August 2003.
Synapse examined whether PG&E could independently decide to permanently retire one or more of the generating units at its Salem Harbor Station. The results of this analysis were presented in testimony submitted to the Joint Committees of the Massachusetts Legislature on Government Regulations and Energy. Project completed in March 2003.
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