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Beginning the week of March 15, many throughout have New England have been living with emergency orders relating to COVID-19. Generally speaking, these orders limit gatherings, non-essential workforces, school openings, and on-site consumption of food and drink. In effect, these orders mean that many New Englanders are staying at home at most or all times of the day.

Our jobs, comforts, and ability to survive all depend on something most people take for granted until it goes missing: energy. It powers our lighting, our appliances, our cell phones – our entire daily lives. We need it to search for jobs or work from home, to access essential goods, to cook and store food, to keep our homes at safe temperatures, to access water, and to connect with loved ones. For those who are medically dependent on electricity, access to energy can keep them out of our hospitals—currently overwhelmed with the COVID pandemic—and out of harm’s way.

Today’s electric system is almost unrecognizable from the electric system just 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 1984. Meanwhile, both total generation and electric sales have only marginally increased over 10 years.

On January 16th 2020, the New York Public Service Commission issued an order which sets New York on a path to implement one of the most ambitious energy efficiency portfolios in the country.

Get in the Know on AEO: A guide to EIA’s latest energy projection through 2050

On January 29, 2020, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released the 2020 Annual Energy Outlook (AEO). AEO 2020 contains projections of energy use from the electric power, residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors through 2050. AEO 2020’s Reference case does not represent a forecast; instead, it’s a projection based on estimates of fuel availability, changes in technology costs, and current legislation.

The devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico prompted the installation of microgrids and other measures to improve the island’s electricity resiliency in the face of natural disasters.[1] Last week’s earthquake forced these newly installed technologies to prove that they can power critical facilities through long duration outages.

The 2019 issue of the Association of Energy Service Professionals (AESP) Magazine featured an article by Synapse authors on Assessing Resource Cost-Effectiveness. What are the limitations of current cost-effectiveness practices? How can the National Standard Practice Manual (NSPM) aid jurisdictions in screening energy efficiency and other distributed energy resources for cost-effectiveness? Read on as we make sense of the acronym alphabet soup that is cost-effectiveness testing. 

In 2014, the City of Burlington, Vermont became the first city in the United States to power itself on 100 percent renewable electricity. Synapse Energy Economics (Synapse) and Resource Systems Group (RSG) are proud to partner with the City to take its next big step, developing a roadmap to put the community on the best path to achieve Net Zero Energy by 2030.

In August 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a rule to roll back the requirements for automobile fuel economy standards. While existing standards are set to increase throughout model years 2017 to 2026, the proposed rollback would hold the standards constant at 2020 levels for model years 2021 through 2026. Synapse recently completed a report for Consumers Union and a second report with Consumer Reports related to the U.S. EPA’s and NHTSA’s proposed rollback.

My friend Frank Ackerman died on Monday, July 15th. We worked together at the Tellus Institute in the 1980s and 1990s, and more recently at Synapse. Frank's intellect and ability to get to the heart of complicated technical, economic, and institutional issues made him a powerhouse in climate and energy policy. His sense of humor made him a pleasure to work with.

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