Electricity Modeling & Quantitative Analysis

Electricity modeling and other forms of quantitative analyses are fundamental to objective, well-informed decision-making. They've always been at the heart of what we do. Synapse loves digging in to model a complex question, or to critique the work of others.

Electric sector modeling image--aerial view of wind turbines and power lines


We started in our early days providing really good electric sector modeling and modeling review to non-utility clients who lacked access. We still do that; but we've expanded to better answer our clients' questions. Our experts use a combination of models and tools--some built by us--to get at the information our clients need.

Electric System Modeling

Synapse performs operational and planning modeling analyses of electric power systems using industry-standard models such as EnCompass, Strategist, Market Analytics, PROMOD, and PLEXOS to evaluate long-term energy plans, assess the environmental and economic impacts of policy initiatives, and review utility system modeling. Our services include identifying the appropriate set of models to inform clients’ analyses; performing modeling studies and analyzing the results; and reviewing, critiquing, and re-running utilities' and project developers' modeling studies and output files.

Decarbonization Modeling

In addition to modeling future scenarios for electric system decarbonization, we model pathways for building and transportation sector decarbonization. Iteratively modeling the interactions between sectors and comparing results requires synchronization; we've developed tools that work together provide useful results.

Economic & Jobs Impact Modeling

We analyze job impacts and other macroeconomic impacts alongside other quantitative analysis to provide a more complete picture of various options. Read more about our expertise.

Emissions Impact Modeling

Synapse uses various tools to quantify health and environmental impacts of energy-related emissions. Most commonly, we use U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's publicly available CO-Benefits Risk Assessment (COBRA) screening and mapping tool. It uses county-level inputs on changes in criteria pollutants to estimate impacts on public health, including morbidity and monetized health effects. 

GIS Geospatial Modeling

Synapse also has experience employing GIS to analyze geospatial data. We have used GIS to inform policy decisions and gather input data through the identification of sites for solar projects and their associated characteristics, extraction of modeled wind speeds based on lease regions, and expression of results through choropleth maps.

Benefit-Cost Analysis

We build workbooks to analyze the costs and benefits of existing and proposed policies, technology applications, and programs. Typically, these projects relate to ensuring cost-effective use of ratepayer or taxpayer funding. Examples include analysis of community solar programs, electric vehicle incentive programs, expansion of renewable portfolio standards, and specific technologies such as heat pumps and energy storage.

In addition, Synapse is a national leader in developing principles and practices for how to conduct BCAs when reviewing utility investments.

Tool Development

Synapse modelers run industry-standard models and publicly available tools when these resources are the best fit for the task. We also develop models in-house for specific applications, either to complement the capabilities of other models or to use exclusively. 

  • AVERT. Synapse developed this MATLAB and Excel-based model for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to calculate hourly displaced emissions resulting from energy efficiency and renewable energy additions at specific locations.
  • ESIST. Synapse developed Excel-based model for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to estimate medium- and long-term impacts related to utility- and state-level energy efficiency programs.
  • EV-REDI. Synapse developed a stock-flow model to aid in planning for impacts of transportation electrification. EV-REDI uses state-specific data to project electric vehicle sales and total vehicles on the road, as well as electric system sales impacts, impacts to gasoline consumption, and changes in vehicle emissions.
  • BDC. Synapse’s Building Decarbonization Calculator (BDC) is a tool for modeling the energy consumption of space and water heating systems in residential and commercial buildings across the country. The BDC can provide the quantitative, state-level projections of future scenarios that jurisdictions need to make informed building decarbonization decisions.
  • M-SEM. The Multi-Sector Emissions Model calculates a comprehensive picture of future emissions across all energy sectors to enable economy-wide screening of a wide variety of emissions reduction options. With state-specific detail on energy use and emissions, and stock-flow calculations of residential and commercial-sector heating equipment, M-SEM can be combined with other models to quickly project emissions in many different visions of the future.
  • Interactive Map of U.S. Power Plants. Synapse has combined data from U.S. Energy Information Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency into a free, interactive map of U.S. power plants. This map displays information on location, fuel type, electric generation, generating capacity, ownership, and emissions for over 9,900 power plants across the country. Data is included for all power plants that were operating as of December 2020.
  • Coal Asset Valuation Tool (CAVT). This Synapse-developed model analyzes the forward-going economic viability of individual coal units in the face of current and likely future environmental regulations over the next 30 years, by comparing the cost of environmental compliance with forecasts of electricity market prices and revenues. CAVT has been used in several Synapse analyses to examine and identify coal units at risk for retirement.