Electric System and Economic Modeling

Synapse routinely applies industry-standard market simulation models including EnCompass, PLEXOS, Market Analytics, PROMOD, and Strategist to forecast electricity market prices, calculate avoided costs, analyze market power, review resource planning, and quantify fuel requirements and air emissions. 

Models developed in-house by Synapse include the Multi-Sector Emissions Model (M-SEM), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency AVERT displaced emissions model, and the Electric Vehicle Regional Emissions and Demand Impacts Tool (EV-REDI).

In addition to our power sector modeling, Synapse frequently incorporates the use of economic models such as IMPLAN and REMI to estimate impacts of electric, transportation, and building sector policies and investments on employment, gross domestic or state product, and other metrics.

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.


Electric System Modeling

Synapse performs operational and planning modeling analyses of electric power systems using industry-standard models such as Strategist, EnCompass, 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.

Synapse also has extensive experience with cash-flow and asset valuation modeling, applied in conjunction with or independently of electric system models.

In-House Tools

Synapse also develops models in-house for specific applications, including:

  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • Interactive Map of U.S. Power Plants. Synapse has combined data from U.S. Energy Information Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This file contains a user-friendly Google Earth map that displays information on location, fuel type, electric geneation, generating capacity, ownership, and emissions for over 9,100 power plants across the country. The datafile is updated annually and has been downloaded hundreds of times by state energy offices and air quality offices, electric utilities and affiliated industries, NGOs, university students and faculty, and many other organizations.
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  • 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.
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  • Clean Power Plan Planning Tool (CP3T). CP3T is an Excel-based spreadsheet tool for performing first-pass planning of statewide compliance with EPA's final Clean Power Plan. 
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Economic Modeling

Synapse implements, assesses, and adapts many commonly used macroeconomic models, including IMPLAN and REMI, to predict the cascading economic and job impacts of capital projects and spending. Our expertise includes the detailed representation of spending patterns for construction and operation for each energy resource type. Our services include:

  • Analyzing the economic impacts of electric sector policies and investments, including impacts on employment, GDP, electric rates and bills, and local government revenues
  • Using a combination of economic and power sector models to analyze the cost, emissions, and broader economic impacts of potential or proposed state, regional, and national energy plans
  • Critiquing economic studies related to energy and the environment