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Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2015

Synapse analyzed the potential for clean alternatives to replace Progress Energy’s Asheville, North Carolina, coal-fired power plant. Specifically, this analysis considered local reliability issues that may be triggered by the retirement of the Asheville plant, the ability of clean alternatives (such as energy efficiency and renewable resources) to resolve those reliability issues, and the comparative costs and bill impacts of clean alternatives versus pollution control retrofits at the Asheville plant. Synapse’s work product discussed the untapped potential for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and demand response in the service territory of the Asheville plant.

Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2015

Synapse assisted Sierra Club with an analysis of the revenue requirements necessary to install a cooling tower at Wisconsin Public Service Corporation?s (WSPC) Pulliam Units 7 and 8. Rachel Wilson submitted direct testimony to the Wisconsin Division of Hearings and Appeals on total cost estimates for construction and operation of the cooling towers as well as the economic achievability of the cooling towers and the expected impact on electric rates in WSPC?s service territory. 

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Rachel Wilson Regarding Pulliam Plant Cooling Towers
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2015

On behalf of Sierra Club, Synapse evaluated the reasonableness of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s (MISO) 2015/2016 capacity auction, which resulted in a dramatic price spike for Zone 4 (southern Illinois). Synapse’s analysis found that the auction results were an artifact of the auction construct, and did not accurately reflect actual supply and demand conditions. In particular, Synapse highlighted the fact that counter flows from power exports were not accurately accounted for, and that the threshold for investigating possible market power was inappropriately tied to PJM’s clearing prices. As a result, Synapse recommended that FERC reject the results of the auction and that the flaws in the auction construct be corrected. Following a technical conference on this matter, FERC agreed with Sierra Club and other intervenors that MISO’s method for calculating counter flows and for determining the threshold for investigation of market power were not just and reasonable, and ordered MISO to change its methodologies. 

Related Publication(s)
Affidavit of Melissa Whited Regarding MISO Capacity Auction
Client:
Clean Water Action, Coalition for Clean Air South Coast, Toxics Action Center
Year:
2016, 2015

The Brayton Point Power Plant in Somerset, Massachusetts will retire by June of 2017, and give the town an opportunity to influence the fate of the 234-acre waterfront site. On behalf of a coalition of environmental advocates, Synapse has set the assessment in a regional context and reviewed several future options for the site to determine their pros and cons. Options analyzed included building a new natural gas plant on the site and installing a variety of clean energy generation and battery storage units – referred to as a Clean Energy Hub. The resulting report explores the impacts on the local economy in terms of jobs and tax revenues, the Commonwealth’s ability to comply with its Global Warming Solutions Act, and the perceived need for locally generated electricity. 

Related Publication(s)
Reimagining Brayton Point: A Guide to Assessing Reuse Options for the Somerset Community
Client:
Appalachian Mountain Advocates
Year:
2016, 2015

On behalf of Appalachian Mountain Advocates (AMA) and the Southern Environmental Law Center, Synapse analyzed natural gas demand and a proposed pipeline expansion in Virginia and the surrounding region. Related to this, AMA commissioned Synapse to assess the cost and potential for renewables in Virginia, including both renewable energy sources built in state and renewable energy produced in the surrounding region and purchased by Virginia. Synapse found that wind and solar energy showed the greatest potential for Virginia considering technical potential, economic feasibility, and integration concerns.

Related Publication(s)
Renewable Alternatives to Natural Gas in Virginia
Client:
Year:
2015

Synapse conducted a literature review of wind and solar integration cost studies and found costs commonly less than $5 per megawatt-hour. Synapse found that despite differences in the types of systems across the country—some composed of much more inflexible coal or nuclear generation than others—costs across systems appear to follow similar bands. Integration costs represent the cost of measures to help meet the incremental needs of the system as more renewable energy is brought online, typically in the operational timeframe. Measures to address these needs include improved coordination between neighboring system operators, increased geographic diversity of wind and solar installations, transmission reinforcements, and demand-side solutions such as demand response and time-of-use pricing. System planners should still conduct their own focused studies on how they will manage renewable resources, but the Synapse review suggests there is no need to put the brakes on further development, as these costs tend to be quite small.

In addition to the report, Synapse prepared a two-page brief on the challenges, solutions, and costs of integrating renewable energy. "Remodeling the Grid: Challenges, Solutions, and Costs Associated with Integrating Renewable Resources" can be found below. 

Related Publication(s)
A Solved Problem: Existing Measures Provide Low-Cost Wind and Solar Integration (report)
Remodeling the Grid: Challenges, Solutions, and Costs Associated with Integrating Renewable Resources (brief)
Renewables Integration and the Clean Power Plan (slides)
Client:
Conservation Services Group
Year:
2015

Synapse assisted Conservation Services Group in the design of a Residential Demand Response program using wireless thermostats that would conform to ISO New England requirements for telemetry and performance reporting.

Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2015

Synapse conducted a technical and economic review of planning studies and analysis made by the City Water, Light and Power (CWLP) of Springfield, IL and its subcontractors, including Burns & McDonnell, regarding the future of CWLP’s coal-fired electric generating units Dallman 31/32. The Synapse team, led by Dr. Vitolo, found that the operation of these units lost the city at least $41 million between 2008 and 2013, and that the prudent course of action for CWLP would be to prepare for their imminent retirement.

Related Publication(s)
Dallman Units 31/32: Retrofit or Retire?
Client:
Ohio Office of Consumers’ Counsel
Year:
2015

Synapse provided testimony on behalf of the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel regarding AEP Ohio’s request to pass through to its customers the costs and revenues of 20 coal units. Customers would bear these costs until the scheduled retirement dates for the plants, which currently range from 2033 to 2051. Expert witness Sarah Jackson examined the utility's environmental compliance plan and assessed the related potential financial risks that the coal units posed to customers.

Related Publication(s)
Jackson Testimony on AEP Environmental Compliance Plan
Client:
Alternatives for Community & Environment
Year:
2015

In April 2008, Brockton Power Company filed a Major Comprehensive Plan Application (MCPA) for a 350‐megawatt combined cycle fossil fuel-fired electric generating facility in Brockton, Massachusetts. After the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued its conditional approval of the MCPA, residents of Brockton and surrounding areas appealed the permit, arguing that the power plant and DEP had failed to demonstrate that the benefits outweigh the burdens, as required by Massachusetts law. Synapse reviewed Brockton Power’s cost-benefit analyses, Economic Development Research Group, Inc.’s economic assessment, and DEP’s cost-benefit analyses of the proposed project. Synapse submitted direct testimony to the DEP presenting the results of this review and explaining the appropriate way to assess the economic impacts of a large industrial project such as an electric generating facility.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Elizabeth A. Stanton on the Economic Analyses of a Proposed Brockton Power Company Generating Facility
Supplemental Testimony of Elizabeth A. Stanton on the Economic Analyses of a Proposed Brockton Power Company Generating Facility
Client:
New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel
Year:
2015

Elizabethtown Gas filed a petition in April 2015 to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for approval of a new energy efficiency program budget. The budget included the continuation of Elizabethtown’s existing three energy efficiency programs and the implementation of two new programs for a four-year period beginning September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2019. On behalf of the New Jersey Division of the Rate Counsel, Synapse issued discovery requests, analyzed and reviewed the petition and discovery responses, and provided support to the client during settlement discussions. Primary issues included energy costs and savings assumptions, cost-benefit analyses, marketing budgets, load building programs, and demonstration of incremental program benefits when more than one efficiency program targets the same market. Under the settlement, the Company agreed to withdraw the April 2015 petition, and to continue to extend the current programs until the end of 2016 with the remaining budget. 

Client:
Eastern Research Group, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Year:
2015, 2014

As a subcontractor to Eastern Research Group, Synapse provided consultation services to the U.S. EPA in which we reviewed and assessed numerous energy efficiency programs across the United States on a variety of topics including, but not limited to: (a) costs of saved energy; (b) energy savings at the sector and portfolio levels; (c) annual savings ramp-up rates; (d) energy efficiency measure life; (e) energy savings decay profiles; (f) participant costs vs. program incentive; (g) energy efficiency potential; and (h) energy efficiency portfolio standards.

Related Publication(s)
State Net-to-Gross Ratios
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2015

Synapse provided technical support including expert witness testimony concerning the results of Southern California Edison’s (SCE’s) Request for Offers for local capacity resources (LCR) in the Western LA Basin area. SCE’s procurement included energy storage resources at both the bulk, wholesale level (connected at 230 kV), and at a selection of locations on the distribution grid (on-site at small commercial and industrial buildings), including thermal storage procurement. Synapse reviewed the utility’s testimony submitted to the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC), in light of the 2012 Long-Term Procurement Plan decision on local capacity resource need in the LA Basin, as well as other filings and CPUC decisions concerning the type of resources required to be secured by SCE. Synapse also analyzed SCE’s optimization mechanism for choosing storage resources, with a focus on interconnection and tariff energy charge issues and the allocation of storage benefit across energy, capacity, and ancillary service markets. In testimony, Synapse supported the acquisition of a larger level of storage resources than selected by SCE, supported by evidence that the cost/benefit analyses of SCE indicated a net economic benefit for the system if greater levels of energy storage were procured.

Related Publication(s)
Prepared Testimony of Robert M. Fagan Regarding Southern California Edison 2013 Local Capacity Requirements Request for Offers for the Western Los Angeles Basin
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2015

Synapse was retained by Sierra Club to review the integrated resource plans (IRP) of three utilities in Louisiana: Entergy, SWEPCO, and Cleco. For SWEPCO and Cleco, Synapse identified which elements of the IRP were improvements over past plans and which areas needed continued improvement. Sierra Club requested that Synapse evaluate Entergy’s IRP in more detail. Synapse reviewed the results of Entergy’s 2015 draft IRP, provided feedback on the Company’s modeling inputs and methodology, and recommended improvements for future planning documents. After reviewing the information Entergy made publicly available during the stakeholder engagement process, Synapse identified several concerns, including a flawed modeling structure, unreasonable assumptions, underestimation of demand-side management potential and benefits, and general lack of transparency.

Related Publication(s)
Comments on Entergy Louisiana 2015 Integrated Resource Plan
Client:
Earthjustice
Year:
2015

In January 2010 (and again in November 2014), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed to strengthen the national clean air standard for ozone from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a level between 65 and 70 ppb. In February 2015, NERA Economic Consulting issued a report for the National Association of Manufacturers making extreme claims about the cost and job impacts of meeting a 65 ppb standard. NERA’s cost estimates are more than ten times higher than those made by EPA in its 2014 Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for the proposed standards. Synapse reviewed NERA’s report on behalf of Earthjustice and found that it grossly overstates compliance costs due to major flaws, math errors, and unfounded assumptions in NERA’s analyses.

Related Publication(s)
Clearing Up the Smog: Debunking Industry Claims that We Can`t Afford Healthy Air
Client:
New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel
Year:
2016, 2015

Synapse through its subcontractor John Rosenkranz, provided New Jersey Rate Counsel with technical advice to review New Jersey Natural Gas' annual Basic Gas Supply Service (BGSS) and Conservation Incentive Program (CIP) filings.

Client:
Ontario Energy Board
Year:
2015

Synapse reviewed the gas demand-side management plans submitted by Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. and Union Gas Limited to the Ontario Energy Board for 2016-2020. As an independent consultant to the Board’s staff, Synapse prepared a report providing comments and recommendations for improvements to the plans based on best practices in leading jurisdictions. The topics covered in this report include the following: (a) projected energy savings, budget, and cost-effectiveness, (b) program design and delivery, (c) program evaluation plans, (d) shareholder incentives, (e) customer financing, (f) coordination between gas and electric programs, (g) the use and development of input assumptions including savings estimates, free ridership and spillover factors, and (h) gas infrastructure planning. Mr. Kenji Takahashi and Mr. Tim Woolf provided expert testimony regarding the results of our report before the Board’s panel, and supported the Board staff’s filing submission to the Board.

Related Publication(s)
Ontario Gas Demand-Side Management 2016-2020 Plan Review
Client:
Sierra Club, Western Clean Energy Campaign, Powder River Basin Resource Council, Utah Clean Energy, Idaho Conservation League
Year:
2015

On behalf of a coalition of environmental non-governmental organizations, Synapse reviewed PacifiCorp’s use of the System Optimizer model in the development of its 2015 integrated resource plan. In addition to evaluating PacifiCorp’s inputs and configuration choices, Synapse conducted several independent sensitivity scenarios to demonstrate an approach to planning that is more flexible, more transparent, and better optimizes decisions in the face of planning constraints faced by PacifiCorp. Synapse assessed how economic unit retirements could be used to help PacifiCorp states reach Clean Power Plan compliance. Whereas PacifiCorp decided which power plants to force to retire in the model based on a separate analysis, Synapse allowed System Optimizer to determine which units to retire in order to find a least-cost plan. Synapse also tested the PacifiCorp system against likely regional haze compliance requirements and sensitivities to renewable cost assumptions.

Related Publication(s)
Review of the Use of the System Optimizer Model in PacifiCorp 2015 IRP
Client:
New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel
Year:
2015

Together with subcontractor Charles Salamone, Synapse assisted the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel in reviewing and critiquing the Board of Public Utilities’ proposed rules to update reliability and vegetation management standards. The BPU’s proposed rules would update rules that are currently in place and account for major changes that have occurred in New Jersey, including weather events such as Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Sandy, and the October 2011 snowstorm, as well as rate case outcomes. Project completed October 2015.

Client:
New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel
Year:
2015

On behalf of the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, Synapse reviewed and provided testimony related to Public Service Electric and Gas Company’s petition to continue its Energy Efficiency Economic Extension Program. Synapse evaluated: the reasonableness of the term and the design of the proposed program, including incentive levels, eligibility, and qualified measures; historical and project savings participation; historical expenses and proposed budget; the cost-benefit analysis inputs, methodology, and results; and program impact and process evaluation plans. 

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Kenji Takahashi Regarding PSE&G EEE Extension II
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2015

On behalf of Sierra Club, Synapse reviewed Indianapolis Power & Light Company's analysis of various retrofits at the Petersburg coal plant in light of additional environmental compliance requirements. 

Client:
Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources
Year:
2017, 2016, 2015

The thermal energy sector, which relies primarily on fossil fuels, accounts for approximately one third of Rhode Island’s total energy consumption and total carbon emissions. By diversifying the thermal energy sector to increase use of low-carbon renewable heating and cooling technologies (e.g., air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, wood pellet heating, solar thermal), Rhode Island can make significant strides toward achieving greenhouse gas emission reduction goals while producing substantial economic benefits for the state. To meet these objectives, the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources tasked Synapse and Meister Consultants Group with (a) analyzing policies and programs designed to grow the renewable thermal industry and (b) conducting a detailed market model of an alternative thermal sector energy future. This market model analyzed the cost-effectiveness, energy rate and bill impacts, local job impacts, and emission impacts of an alternative future in which Rhode Island achieves five percent renewable energy penetration by 2035.

Kenji Takahashi presented on "Rhode Island Renewable Thermal Market Strategy -- An Analysis of Energy, Environmental, Economic, Energy Bill, and Local Job Impacts of an Alternative Renewable Thermal Energy Future for Rhode Island" at 2017 Energy Efficiency in Domestic Appliances and Lighting Conference. 

View Takahashi's EEDAL conference paper here and his presentation slides here

Related Publication(s)
Rhode Island Renewable Thermal Market Development Strategy
Client:
New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel
Year:
2015

Synapse assisted the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel in evaluating Rockland Electric Company’s proposal for investments in advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). The proposal included an upgrade of 58,000 meters in Bergen County to advanced meters with two-way communication, to occur over a five-year period, along with the equipping of eight cell towers to transmit meter information, the installation of a new meter data receipt system, and the configuration of other Company systems to process and use data received from the new meters. Synapse reviewed the Company’s cost and benefit assumptions and supporting materials to ensure that the AMI meters would provide sufficient improvements in resiliency and reliability, and that the cost-benefit analysis had been performed correctly and incorporated reasonable estimates of both the costs and benefits. Synapse also addressed issues regarding premature retirement of meters and customer opt-out fees and information.

Synapse also reviewed the Company's concurrent proposal for storm hardening measures.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Tim Woolf on Rockland Petition for AMI Investments
Client:
New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel
Year:
2015

On behalf of the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, Synapse reviewed the petition filed by Rockland Electric Company for approval of storm hardening measures. Expert witnesses Max Chang and Charles Salamone reviewed issues related to: (1) Substation Flood Mitigation, (2) Overhead Hardening Measures, (3) Selective Undergrounding, (4) Distribution Automation, and (5) Enhanced Vegetation Management. As filed, the Company’s proposed storm-hardening measures amount to $31.7 million.

Synapse also reviewed the Company’s concurrent proposal for investments in advanced metering infrastructure

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Charles Salamone and Max Chang on Rockland Petition for Storm Hardening Measures
Client:
Consumers Union
Year:
2016, 2015

Jurisdictions across the country are grappling with the challenges and opportunities associated with rapidly increasing adoption of distributed solar resources. While distributed solar can provide many benefits – such as increased customer choice, decreased emissions, and decreased utility system costs – in some circumstances it may result in increased bills for non-solar customers. Utility regulators and state policy-makers face the difficult task of striking a balance between ensuring that cost-effective clean energy resources continue to be developed, and avoiding unreasonable rate and bill impacts for non-solar customers.

This report, prepared by Synapse for Consumers Union, provides a framework for helping decision-makers analyze distributed solar policy options comprehensively and concretely. This framework is grounded in addressing the three key questions that regulators should ask regarding any potential distributed solar policy:

  • How will the policy affect the development of distributed solar?
  • How cost-effective are distributed solar resources?
  • To what extent does the policy mitigate or exacerbate any cost shifting to non-solar customers?

Answering these questions will enable decision-makers to determine which policy options best balance the protection of customers with the promotion of cost-effective distributed solar resources.

 
For more on this project, read the press release and Medium post from Consumers Union.
 
 
Related Publication(s)
Show Me the Numbers: A Framework for Balanced Distributed Solar Policies
Show Me the Numbers Slide Deck
Client:
N/A
Year:
2015

Dr. Elizabeth A. Stanton presented "Sticky Issues in Pipeline Planning" at the Northeast Energy and Commerce Association (NECA) Environmental Conference in 2015.

Related Publication(s)
Sticky Issues in Pipeline Planning
Client:
Acadia Center
Year:
2015

Synapse assisted Acadia Center in developing its "Utility Vision" proposal, which outlines its views for how to make the transition to new regulatory and utility business models.

Client:
Pace Law School Energy Project
Year:
2015

The New York Public Service Commission’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative, an ambitious initiative to improve the New York electricity system through better incorporation of distributed energy resources, is proceeding on two tracks. The focus of Track Two is to examine what regulatory changes in current regulatory, tariff, and market designs and incentive structures are needed to better align utility interests with achieving the PSC’s objectives. Synapse assisted Pace in analyzing several aspects of the Track Two proposals, including the benefit-cost analysis framework, the value of solar, the ways that system fees might help encourage or discourage customer PV systems, standby rates, and pricing structures. Synapse also helped Pace experts develop alternative proposals for submission into the case record.

Related Publication(s)
Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Reforming the Energy Vision Benefit-Cost Analysis White Paper
Reply Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Reforming the Energy Vision Benefit-Cost Analysis White Paper
Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Reforming the Energy Vision Track 2 White Paper
Reply Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Reforming the Energy Vision Track 2 White Paper
Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Distributed System Implementation Plan Guidance
Reply Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Distributed System Implementation Plan Guidance
Client:
Natural Resources Defense Council
Year:
2016, 2015

The New York Public Service Commission has undertaken an ambitious initiative to improve system efficiency, empower customer choice, and encourage greater penetration of clean generation and efficiency technologies. Called the Reforming the Energy Vision initiative, or REV, this case has proceeded on two tracks. The focus of Track Two is to examine what regulatory changes in current regulatory, tariff, and market designs and incentive structures are needed to better align utility interests with achieving the PSC’s objectives. Synapse provided the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) with analytical and policy expertise to help NRDC ensure that REV Track Two: (1) results in a regulatory and ratemaking model for New York that moves away from electricity as a commodity, (2) promotes the penetration of clean and renewable resources, (3) ultimately decarbonizes the electric sector, and (4) becomes a model for other jurisdictions. Synapse assisted NRDC in this matter by conducting and quantitative research and analysis to inform NRDC comments and proposals, developing and executing work plans for strategic engagement in REV Track Two, working with NRDC to draft submissions to the PSC, and otherwise participate in REV-related stakeholder processes, where required.

Synapse also assisted NRDC with Track One issues

Related Publication(s)
Aiming Higher: Realizing the Full Potential of Cost-Effective Energy Efficiency in New York
Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Reforming the Energy Vision Benefit-Cost Analysis White Paper
Reply Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Reforming the Energy Vision Benefit-Cost Analysis White Paper
Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Reforming the Energy Vision Track 2 White Paper
Reply Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Reforming the Energy Vision Track 2 White Paper
Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Distributed System Implementation Plan Guidance
Reply Comments on New York State Department of Public Service Distributed System Implementation Plan Guidance
Comments on New York Public Service Commission Initial Distributed System Implementation Plans
Reply Comments on New York Public Service Commission Initial Distributed System Implementation Plans
Comments on New York Public Service Commission Supplemental Distributed System Implementation Plans
Reply Comments on New York Public Service Commission Supplemental Distributed System Implementation Plans
Comments on VDER Phase 1 Implementation Plans
Client:
N/A
Year:
2015, 2014, 2013, 2012

Now updated to include the Clean Power Plan and other relevant regulations, the Synapse CO2 price forecasts reflect a reasonable range of expectations regarding future efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Prudent planning requires that utilities and stakeholders take this cost into account when engaging in resource planning. Our forecast, updated annually, includes low, mid, and high case projections for CO2 prices out to 2040 based on thorough analysis of proposed federal regulatory measures, ongoing state and regional policies, the price of CO2 already being factored into federal rulemakings, recent CO2 price forecasts from utility IRPs, and policy analysis and modeling from the research community.

Related Publication(s)
Spring 2016 Carbon Dioxide Price Forecast
2015 Carbon Dioxide Price Forecast
CO2 Price Report, Spring 2014: Includes 2013 CO2 Price Forecast
2013 Carbon Dioxide Price Forecast
2012 Carbon Dioxide Price Forecast

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