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Today’s electric system is almost unrecognizable from the electric system a decade ago. Generation from natural gas and renewables has accelerated to replace the rapid and unprecedented retirement of coal-fired generators. Wind, solar, and geothermal electric generating capacity in the United States has now eclipsed capacities from hydroelectric and nuclear resources combined. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have reached their lowest levels since 1987. Meanwhile, both total generation and electric sales have held relatively steady for 10 years.

On January 17, 2019, Brown University announced it would be converting a Rhode Island gravel pit into a 250 acre, 50 megawatt (MW) solar facility. This project is expected to offset 70 percent of the university’s electric load. To address Brown’s remaining supply needs, the university plans to enter into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with an 8 MW wind facility in Texas.

On February 11, 2019, ISO New England published its latest draft distributed solar (“DG PV”) forecast. As in previous years, ISO New England has developed this forecast based on historical data and information about public policies in the six New England states. These policies include state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policies, long-term procurements, net energy metering, federal tax credits, and other drivers.

On January 24, 2019, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released the 2019 Annual Energy Outlook (AEO). AEO 2019 contains projections of energy use from the electric power, residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors through 2050. As in prior years, EIA has released a Reference case alongside many other cases exploring futures with various levels of economic growth and oil and gas availability.

A new study from the Massachusetts Commission on the Future of Transportation in the Commonwealth argues for a bold public policy to counter the challenges of climate change and inequality over the coming two decades. Titled “Choices for Stewardship,” the report calls policymakers, municipalities, and industry to action with a broad agenda of 18 recommendations for modernizing the state’s transportation sector.

On November 26, 2018, Massachusetts’ new SMART program went into effect. SMART stands for Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target. It is a program designed to replace the previous Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) program as one of the primary means of incentivizing distributed solar installations in the Commonwealth.

The October 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on climate change highlights the importance of averting catastrophic climate change. Centrally, it finds that global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions must reach net zero by 2050 in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C. With the United States’ announced withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, the future of its commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels is in peril.

Synapse was awarded a Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) grant by the Minnesota Department of Commerce to produce a white paper with recommendations on updates to Minnesota's energy efficiency cost-effectiveness framework. The objective of this project was to describe how the key elements of the National Standard Practice Manual (NSPM) could be applied to energy efficiency cost-effectiveness analyses in Minnesota.

Synapse Energy Economics released a new report today on the opportunities and challenges for decarbonizing heating in California buildings. Our study, commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council, addresses the fact that California’s buildings are responsible for 25 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. More than half of those come from combustion furnaces and water heaters.

Synapse has a new EV tool! Our new EV-REDI (Electric Vehicle Regional Emissions and Demand Impacts) tool models multiple impacts of transportation electrification for specific states.

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