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.
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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 provided a memo to the Sierra Club that highlighted flaws, errors, and other concerns regarding the retrofit or retirement analysis of the Martin Drake units 5, 6, and 7 by the Colorado Springs Utilities. Project completed August 2013.
For this project, Synapse reviewed existing demand-side resources in the Midwest ISO and mechanisms for demand resources (energy efficiency, demand response, and distributed generation) to participate in the Midwest ISO energy and capacity markets. Synapse also analyzed existing practices for demand resources participation in the energy and capacity markets in the other ISO/RTOS and how these resources were accounted for in their transmission planning processes. The project team suggested the "best practices" approach for incorporation of demand-side resources into the Midwest ISO markets and transmission planning.
Dr. Jeremy Fisher presented a talk at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) on IRP stakeholder mechanisms and an intervener’s perspective on IRP processes. Project completed December 2013.
On behalf of the Sierra Club, Synapse participated in the Puget Sound Energy (PSE) integrated resource plan (IRP) development stakeholder process. Synapse attended numerous stakeholder meetings, reviewed materials and company analysis, and assisted Sierra Club with comments throughout the process and ultimately on the draft IRP. The primary focus of Sierra Club’s efforts was to ensure a thorough, critical analysis of the viability of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant as a primary resource for meeting PSE’s needs.
Water is required for energy supply, and energy is required for water supply, creating problems as demand for both resources grows. In “Is there a water-energy nexus in electricity generation? Long-term scenarios for the western Unites States,” published in Energy Policy, Synapse’s Frank Ackerman and Jeremy Fisher analyze this “water-energy nexus” as it affects long-run electricity planning in the western United States.
Synapse assisted the Missouri Solar Energy Industry Association (MOSEIA) in a case involving the payment of solar rebates to consumers in Missouri. Rebate payments and the Missouri Renewable Energy Standard are subject to a combined 1 percent rate impact limitation. Issues involved the approach to calculating the limitation, costs to be included, and rate treatment for solar rebates. Cases with all three Missouri utilities were settled and all three withdrew their petitions to suspend payment of rebates. Project completed December 2013.
Rebuttal Testimony Regarding KCP&L-GMO Motion to Suspend Payment of Solar Rebates
For this project, Synapse reviewed the assumptions made by Kansas City Power and Light (KCP&L) regarding the proposed retrofits of the LaCygne and Montrose coal-fired power plants, and provided analysis and testimony.
Surrebuttal Testimony Regarding the Retirement or Retrofit of the LaCygne and Montrose Generating Stations
Synapse critiqued a NERA Consulting study on the economic effects of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. Synapse's report analyzed the modeling used by NERA, the economic effects of exports on the U.S. labor and manufacturing sector, and the likely economic effects of exporting natural gas as a raw material, among other topics. Project completed April 2013.
Synapse developed a framework for the forecasting of REC activity in the Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (M-RETS) and analyzed various registry fee structure scenarios against projected activity. Synapse provided technical & analytical support on various issues pertaining to REC activity, region-wide RPS compliance, and modifications to the M-RETS fee structure.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) retained Synapse to provide advice on estimating the value of energy efficiency to Duke Energy Carolinas. Project completed May 2013.
In December 2012, the FirstEnergy distribution utilities in Pennsylvania (Metropolitan Edison Company, Pennsylvania Electric Company, Pennsylvania Power Company, and West Penn Power Company) filed a petition requesting approval of their proposed Smart Meter Deployment Plan. Synapse helped the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate review the reasonableness of the companies’ petition. Synapse testimony addressed the projected costs and savings of the Deployment Plan as well as the proposals for measuring and reporting those savings. Project completed August 2013.
Forecasts of electricity demand are essential for analyses of utility regulation and planning. Yet the forecasts used by utilities are typically purchased at substantial cost from specialized vendors and are declared to be confidential business information. There is a need for independent, non-confidential forecasts of load growth that can be used and discussed in analyzing utility issues at relatively low cost. Synapse developed forecasts of electricity consumption by state for each major customer class (residential, commercial, and industrial), drawing on the extensive availability of state-level economic, climate, and energy data. Specifically, we performed ordinary least squares (OLS) analyses of data, leading to a usable, easily applied forecasting framework. We also identified areas where additional development would be likely to lead to improved or more reliable methods. Project completed October 2013.
Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) invited independent reviews of its recent planning exercises, including its 2012 Generation Options Analysis (GOA) and its February 2013 NPPD Draft Integrated Resource Plan (Draft IRP). Sierra Club retained Synapse to review NPPD’s Draft IRP and to provide expert comments on this iteration of the planning process.
Synapse assisted NEEP and EPA to develop information regarding how energy efficiency (EE) is used in system planning studies in the Northeast. Synapse reviewed current practices by PJM, NY ISO, and ISO-NE and compared their treatment of EE in system planning with recommendations by EPA and the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory (LBNL). After review of the information by EPA, Synapse helped prepare and participate in meetings with key stakeholders on how EE can be used in developing state implementation plans (SIPs) to comply with EPA regulations. After the meetings, Synapse participated in a regional forum open to all stakeholders on the use of EE forecasts for system planning and SIPs.
Synapse provided expert advice on and analysis of energy efficiency and CHP programs offered by New Jersey's Clean Energy Program for the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel. We reviewed, analyzed, and commented on various energy efficiency-related matters, including the state-administered programs’ monthly performance, designs and budgets, avoided energy supply cost estimates, cost-benefit analyses, energy savings protocols, EM&V studies, and overall administrative structure. We also periodically reviewed and commented on New Jersey Energy Master Plans, and on a three-year energy efficiency program plan called the Comprehensive Resource Analyses.
On behalf of the New Jersey Division of the Rate Counsel, Synapse reviewed and analyzed New Jersey Natural Gas’s petition for a four-year extension of its SAVEGREEN energy efficiency program and associated cost recovery. The proposed programs included residential energy efficiency, commercial energy efficiency, and a new oil-to-gas conversion program. For this project, Synapse drafted discovery requests and testimony regarding the design and cost effectiveness of the programs.
Whitt Law LLC retained Synapse to consult on several issues related to the appraisal of nuclear power plant facilities in Illinois for tax purposes. Synapse critiqued a technical paper published by Concentric Energy Advisors regarding fleet benefits; produced a report reviewing the history, motivation, and results of deregulation and decommissioning; and reviewed and commented on cost comparison data, methods, and results.
Synapse provided expert services for the Sierra Club regarding Omaha Public Power District’s intent to retrofit a number of coal-fired power plants in its fleet. For this project, Synapse reviewed company data; researched comparisons to other utilities; and drafted a report discussing key decisions facing OPPD, including upcoming environmental regulations, future fuel and carbon costs, managing future demand with energy efficiency and demand response resources, and opportunities for inexpensive energy (and limited capacity) presented by wind power purchase agreements (PPAs).
In 2012, Monongahela Power Company and the Potomac Edison Company filed for approval and rate recovery of the acquisition of an additional ownership interest in the Harrison plant from Allegheny Energy Supply Company, their merchant generator affiliate. The companies also proposed sale of their share in the Pleasants plant to Allegheny Energy Supply. Under this transaction, the companies would invest more than $1.2 billion to acquire an additional 1,476 megawatts of baseload capacity. Synapse helped the West Virginia Consumer Advocate evaluate the reasonableness of that proposed transaction. Project completed August 2013.
Synapse supported the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board in setting a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) rate for tidal energy projects. This is a guaranteed rate that approved tidal projects will be paid for energy by the local utility, Nova Scotia Power. Building on its work with the Board in 2011 establishing FITs for other renewable technologies, Synapse researched the cost and performance characteristics of today’s tidal power arrays and facilitated a stakeholder process in which participants provided input. In January 2013 Synapse filed a proposed tariff rate with the Board, and in February the Board held hearings to review this proposal. The Board accepted Synapse’s proposed rates.
On behalf of the NJ Division of the Ratepayer Advocate, Synapse analyzed the request for cost recovery for expenditures by PSE&G on the Branchburg-Roseland-Hudson transmission line, which was abandoned due to PJM removing the line from its list of needed projects. Synapse analyzed the expenditures in the context of FERC's incentive order allowing for abandonment cost recovery.
PSE&G filed a request before the New Jersey Board of Utilities to build a new set of 230 kV transmission lines and ancillary equipment. Synapse reviewed the petition information and testimony, developed discovery questions, developed testimony, and attended hearings in New Jersey.
Synapse provided AARP with research and analysis regarding various proposals to address resource adequacy issues in the ERCOT market. Critical analysis was focused on reserve margin deficiencies exaggerations, and the potential of expanded DR and EE programs to address future Texas reliability needs. Synapse worked with the AARP to develop position memos that were submitted to the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Project completed October 2013.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) released a series of reports claiming to show that state and federal policies promoting renewable energy are extremely expensive, job-killing regulations. At the request of the Civil Society Institute (CSI), Synapse prepared a brief critique of the ALEC studies, identifying fundamental flaws in both their energy analysis and their economic modeling.
The Attorney General of Illinois retained Synapse to examine and testify as to whether the Ameren Illinois Revised AMI Plan meets the cost-beneficial standard under Section 16-108.6(c) of the IL Energy Infrastructure and Modernization Act.
Synapse provided consulting services to the West Virginia Consumer Advocate in connection with Appalachian Power Company's petition for approval of a generation resource transaction. Synapse reviewed the company's resource plan assumptions and inputs (loads and resources, commodity prices, demand-side management, restructuring plan, plant values) and conducted alternative Strategist model runs. Synapse prepared direct testimony supporting the analysis of the resource plan and recommended alternatives, reviewed testimonies filed by the company and other parties, and issued and reviewed discovery. Project completed November 2013.
Synapse and Earth Track reviewed Department of Energy loan guarantee documents associated with the development of two nuclear reactors, Vogtle 3 and 4, in Georgia. These documents were released as a result of a Freedom of Information Act suit filed by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. Synapse evaluated 1) DOE's due diligence and risk assessment performed on the Vogtle Project, 2) the terms offered on the loan guarantees, and 3) potential conflicts of interest among involved parties.
Vogtle 3 and 4 Conditional Loan Guarantees
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