Synapse developed a product definition for demand response to be procured in Illinois as part of the Illinois Power Authority annual power procurement. In Phase I of this project, we defined a draft DR product definition and solicited feedback from various stakeholders. If the definition is not rejected by IPA, and included in the filing to the Illinois Commerce Commission, Phase II will involve defining the product further and submitting testimony to the ICC. Phase I completed September 2013.
You are here
You can browse all project descriptions (below), or narrow the search results by selecting one or more filters (topic area, client, etc.).
The Council of Michigan Foundations and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation retained Synapse to produce a chapter of a report for Michigan citizens and policymakers to better understand energy optimization programs set forth in Public Act 295 of 2008. The report was released November 2013. Synapse's energy efficiency section (Appendix D) summarizes the fundamentals of demand-side management and reviews demand-side management program cost-effectiveness tests used in Michigan and other key jurisdictions. The appendix also compares Michigan's current screening practices with those of other jurisdictions to identify strengths and weaknesses among different screening practices. The complete report can be found here: http://michigan.gov/documents/energy/ee_report_441094_7.pdf.
Synapse assisted the Sierra Club in proceedings regarding ERCOT’s ability to maintain and incentivize sufficient future resources. ERCOT’s December 2011 Capacity, Demand and Reserves (CDR) report indicated that the independent system operator would soon drop dangerously below its targeted reserve margin and reach a negative value in 2020. Concerns about ERCOT’s reserve margins deepened following grid emergencies caused by unanticipated generator outages during an ice storm in February 2011 and the summer heat wave of 2011. More recent CDR reports showed improvements to future reserve margins, but long-term concerns remained. Synapse reviewed the CDR report and determined that with reasonable adjustments to forecast values, the target reserve margin will be met or exceeded for the next ten years. In two scenarios, “Counting What Already Exists” and “Augmenting Demand-Side Resources,” reserve margin levels exceed the 13.75 percent target level through 2023.
Synapse Comments on FAST Proposals in ERCOT
Synapse wrote a report for the Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC) that addressed the following question: Is the U.S. domestic market for coal expected to grow over the next several decades? The report provided expert judgment on the likelihood of a robust future for the domestic coal market and discussed the challenges facing developers of the Otter Creek coal mine in Ashland, Montana. We found that domestic demand for coal has declined by 14 percent since its historical peak in 2007, and the future of coal for U.S. power generation is uncertain at best.
Synapse assisted the Iowa Office of Consumer Advocate in evaluating a proposed utility power purchase agreement (PPA) for the output of the Duane Arnold nuclear power plant. OCA recommended that the utility “market test” the proposed PPA by developing an RFP for alternate resources, and Synapse assisted in specifying the recommended terms of the RFP.
Synapse prepared testimony on behalf of Citizens Action Coalition, Sierra Club, Save the Valley, and Valley Watch regarding a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) filing by Duke Energy Indiana.
Testimony of Frank Ackerman Regarding Duke Energy Indiana’s Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity
Synapse provided technical support to the NGO sector involved in the U.S. DOE-funded planning collaborative for new transmission in the eastern electrical grid interconnection of the U.S. and Canada. Synapse assessed modeling inputs, future scenarios, modeling mechanisms, and transmission build-out alternatives for the purpose of gauging the economic effects of future resource expansion scenarios, particularly those that can help lower the carbon intensity of the U.S. power sector.
Atrazine, a chemical weed killer used on most of the U.S. corn crop, is the subject of ongoing controversy, with increasing documentation of its potentially harmful health and environmental impacts. Supporters of atrazine claim it is of great value to farmers; in 2011 Syngenta, the producer of atrazine, sponsored a set of studies reporting huge economic benefits from atrazine use. But a Synapse study on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) finds that the Syngenta analyses overlooked less harmful weed management alternatives, and greatly exaggerated the economic benefits of atrazine use. Syngenta’s most complete analysis implies that in the absence of atrazine, farm revenues would increase by more than $1 billion annually, while consumers would face price increases of no more than $0.03 per gallon of gasoline and $0.01 per 4-ounce hamburger. To view a related journal article, “Would banning atrazine benefit farmers,” please visit: www.maneyonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/2049396713Y.0000000054. Please contact Synapse with questions related to this article.
Atrazine: Considering the Alternatives
Synapse examined the economic impacts of NRDC’s proposed carbon emissions standard for existing power plants under the Clean Air Act’s Section 111(d), including estimation of the changes in employment, state and national income, and consumer utility bills in 14 states and for the United States as a whole for wind, solar, coal, natural gas, and energy efficiency resources.
Synapse assisted John Wilson of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) with testimony on the participation impacts of Georgia Power's energy efficiency programs. In January 2013, Georgia Power Company filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission for approval of both its Amended Demand Side Management (DSM) Plan for 2014 through 2023, and its 2013 Integrated Resource Plan. Synapse worked with SACE to review and analyze Georgia Power Company’s assumptions about DSM program participation in the context of the rate and bill impacts associated with its DSM Plan.
The Regional Evaluation, Measurement and Verification Forum is a project managed and facilitated by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, Inc. (NEEP). The Forum’s purpose is to provide a framework for the development and use of common and/or consistent protocols to measure, verify, track, and report energy efficiency and other demand resource savings, costs, and emission impacts to support the role and credibility of these resources in current and emerging energy and environmental policies and markets in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. For this project, Synapse surveyed the practices used across Forum states to screen energy efficiency programs for cost-effectiveness. Synapse gathered information about the type of cost-effectiveness test(s) used by the state, types of avoided costs included in cost-effectiveness tests, other program impacts (OPIs) included in cost-effectiveness tests, methods for estimating OPIs, level(s) at which cost-effectiveness tests are applied, and other relevant data. The final report offered Synapse recommendations on screening practices and methodologies, as well as future research topics to consider.
On behalf of the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Synapse reviewed and commented on the Electricity Demand Side Management 2013 Plan and an energy efficiency potential study filed by Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation, an independent efficiency program administrator. Synapse provided expert testimony regarding rate and bill impacts.
On behalf of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Synapse calculated the cost savings associated with the continuation of Ohio’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). First, Synapse projected the wholesale energy and capacity prices in Ohio’s region of the PJM to establish a reference case and to enable ACEEE to calculate the costs Ohio customers would avoid directly through the reductions in annual energy and peak demand required under the EERS. Synapse then projected the extent to which those wholesale energy and capacity prices would be higher in the absence of the reductions in annual energy and peak demand under the EERS. This projection allowed ACEEE to calculate the indirect wholesale electric energy and capacity costs Ohio would avoid through the reductions in annual energy and peak demand under its EERS. To view the report, visit: http://www.aceee.org/research-report/e138.
Synapse was part of a team of efficiency experts organized by the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) to assist with a comprehensive overhaul of the energy efficiency programs and policies in Arkansas. Synapse focused on comprehensive energy efficiency program design; efficiency savings targets; utility shareholder incentives for efficiency programs; energy efficiency program reporting; program evaluation, measurement and verification (EM&V); a collaborative process for stakeholder input; and integrated resource planning rules. Synapse worked directly with staff at the Arkansas commission to assist in developing policies and writing commission orders.
Synapse provided assistance to the 25 x '25 initiative, an alliance of businesses and organizations working to make America’s energy future more secure, affordable, and environmentally sustainable by advocating for 25% American renewable energy by 2025. Synapse provided comments regarding the energy efficiency regulations being revised in Mississippi. The comments covered a wide range of issues, including energy efficiency cost-effectiveness.
Synapse's Tim Woolf presented a workshop to the Staffs of the Public Utility Regulatory Authority, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Office of Consumer Counsel, and the Office of the Attorney General. The workshop covered state-of-the-art thinking on screening energy efficiency programs for cost-effectiveness and evaluating the rate, bill, and participation impacts of efficiency programs.
In January 2013, Tim Woolf discussed the application of the Total Resource Cost test in evaluating the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency during an Energy Advocates Webinar. Most states use the TRC test to evaluate the cost effectiveness of energy efficiency programs; however, most states do not apply it properly, leading to a significant undervaluation of energy efficiency benefits. In this presentation, Mr. Woolf offers recommendations on when to use the TRC test versus other cost-effectiveness tests, and how to include reasonable estimates of "other program impacts," or OPIs, which are frequently unaccounted for.
Synapse led three presentations at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Energy Efficiency as a Resource Conference on September 23-24, 2013. Tim Woolf presented “Energy Efficiency: Rate, Bill and Participation Impacts,” Rick Hornby and Max Neubauer (ACEEE) presented “Demonstrating How EE in Ohio Saves Money for All Ratepayers,” and Kenji Takahashi and Jeremy Fisher presented “Greening TVA: Leveraging Energy Efficiency to Replace TVA’s Highly Uneconomic Coal Units.” Presented September 2013.
Demonstrating How EE in Ohio Saves Money for All Ratepayers
Greening TVA: Leveraging Energy Efficiency to Replace TVA’s Highly Uneconomic Coal Units
Synapse convened a roundtable summit to bring together advocates from both environmental and industrial consumer advocate groups to discuss the current and looming challenges facing coal power. The representatives discussed their overlapping interests and identified potential opportunities for working together to oppose imprudent investments. Project completed October 2013.
Coal Asset Valuation Tool (CAVT)
As part of its 2012 general rate case, Consumers Energy sought approval and cost recovery for the installation of emission controls at its five largest coal units, representing 1,860 MW, in order to comply with various federal and state environmental regulations. Synapse reviewed the Consumers Energy proposal to determine if it was reasonable, and provided testimony on behalf of Olson, Bzdok & Howard, Michigan Environmental Council, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
On behalf of AARP, Synapse analyzed reliability issues and consumer costs within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) ISO market. This analysis included reviewing and commenting on the June 1, 2012 Brattle Group report “ERCOT Investment Incentives and Resource Adequacy.” The study considered how to maintain acceptable reliability standards through energy markets or capacity markets. All scenarios included an analysis of consumer costs.
The Elizabethtown Gas Company ("ETG") filed a petition in October 2012 to extend and modify its energy efficiency programs, some of which sought to offer monetary incentives additional to incentives for the same measures available through New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program (“CEP”), and to extend funding for ETG's programs. 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 cost-benefit analysis inputs and demonstration of incremental program benefits when more than one efficiency program targets the same market. Project completed in August 2013.
Synapse assisted Sierra Club in evaluating the need for new gas resources to replace the retiring Reid Gardner coal units. This evaluation was conducted in response to proposed legislation that would deem prudent Nevada Energy's plan to build 2 GW of new gas, regardless of whether these plants are needed to meet Nevada energy needs. Project completed July 2013.
On behalf of the Sierra Club, Synapse reviewed and provided expert witness testimony regarding the Big Rivers Electric Cooperative’s applications for Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCNs) and rate recovery to retrofit nine units at five existing coal-fired power plants in Kentucky. These plants include the D.B. Wilson, R.D. Green, Robert A. Reid, Kenneth Coleman, and City of Henderson facilities.
Sierra Club retained Synapse to evaluate the economics of retrofitting several coal units in the Indianapolis Power & Light fleet (the “Big Five”). Synapse reviewed work papers and analyses conducted and provided by IP&L and found numerous errors, omissions, and inconsistencies. Synapse provided multiple rounds of testimony as well as litigation and briefing support to Sierra Club.
Surrebuttal Testimony Regarding Indianapolis Power & Light Company’s Petition for Approval of Clean Energy Projects and Qualified Pollution Control Property
Synapse assisted the Office of the People's Counsel in Formal Case 1050 regarding PEPCO interconnection standards for small generation in the District of Columbia. Synapse reviewed PEPCO's activities to date, researched small generator interconnection standards in other jurisdictions, and recommended best practices and model statutes.
Synapse provided consulting and strategic services to support Efficiency Maine's participation in the Forward Capacity Market.
Synapse worked with Raab Associates to provide support to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) regarding a generic docket on grid modernization. The work included assistance with drafting a Notice of Investigation, as well as support for a stakeholder Working Group. The group met many times over a six-month period and prepared a report with recommendations to the Massachusetts DPU. The report addressed all aspects of grid modernization. Synapse was involved with all aspects of the report, and focused on regulatory models to support grid modernization and methods of analyzing cost-effectiveness.
Synapse examined a number of important issues related to integrating variable resources in ten regional power systems within the United States. Synapse modeled hourly dispatch for power systems with substantial differences in renewable, fossil, and nuclear resources. Specifically, this project examined how well hourly regional load can be balanced in a future with no coal generation, reduced nuclear capacity, and substantially more energy efficiency, wind and solar generation, and storage.
Synapse aided in preparation for hearings before the Vermont Public Service Board regarding the request for a certificate of public good to expand the Vermont Gas network. On behalf of the Conservation Law Foundation Vermont, Synapse prepared prefiled testimony, presented testimony at hearings, and assisted with discovery questions on issues related to the greenhouse gas emissions associated with methane leaks. Project completed September 2013.
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.).