You can browse all project descriptions (below), or narrow the search results by selecting one or more filters (topic area, client, etc.).

Client:
Year:
2018

Synapse hosted special guests Jeannie Ramey from Climable and Dave Dayton from Clean Energy Solutions, Inc. (CESI) to discuss microgrids and selected distribution system topics, with a special focus on the environmental justice implications of our energy delivery systems. Our panelists described several innovative community-led microgrid projects in the Boston area that are part of Climable’s Resilient Urban Neighborhoods program. Climable is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based and woman-run nonprofit committed to fostering energy democracy and climate resilience. CESI, a Boston-based group that has consulted within the clean energy movement for over 25 years, is a Climable project partner, along with Synapse.

Webinar recorded live on August 16, 2018.

Watch the webinar here.

Related Publication(s)
Microgrid Webinar Slides
Client:
World Bank
Year:
2018, 2017

On behalf of the World Bank, Synapse developed a transparent, user-friendly, Excel-based model that can estimate the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions resulting from changes to electric-sector policies. It attempts to produce a reliable, documented estimate of GHG savings attributable to the initiative, suitable for use in international analysis and crediting of GHG reductions. This software tool is a power sector model, designed to examine effects of policies such as price changes, subsidies, and emissions taxes on the operation of an existing electric system. The current, first implementation of the model developed with stakeholder involvement from agencies in Morocco and is based on data and policy options that are specific to Morocco. The software is designed to be easily updated as new data become available. It is also readily adaptable to other countries in future implementations. Development of the tool itself, a user manual, and an internal report demonstrating the tool’s abilities were finalized in Spring 2018.

Client:
Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers
Year:
2018

The Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers engaged Synapse to review National Grid’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) pilot program. Tim Woolf and Melissa Whited filed testimony in support of National Grid’s advanced metering functionality pilot, concluding that the program could provide net benefits to customers, spur company-wide AMF in Rhode Island, and provide long-lasting improvements to Rhode Island’s power sector.

Related Publication(s)
Testimony of Woolf and Whited on National Grid AMI Pilot
Client:
Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers
Year:
2018, 2017

Synapse is providing the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers with technical support for the National Grid rate case. The project includes expert testimony and addresses issues related to performance incentive mechanisms, multi-year rate plans, advanced metering, rate designs, and electric vehicles.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Tim Woolf on National Grid Rate Case
Testimony of Tim Woolf and Melissa Whited on National Grid Rate Case
Direct Testimony of Tim Woolf and Melissa Whited on Power Sector Transformation Proposals
Client:
Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board
Year:
2018, 2017

Review of the 2017 Nova Scotia Load Forecast.

Related Publication(s)
Evidence re the NSPI 2017 Load Forecast
Comments on NSPI Reply Evidence
Client:
Environmental Defense Fund
Year:
2018, 2017

With support from Environmental Defense Fund, Synapse convened a stakeholder advisory council and provided analysis to produce a vision of Ohio’s clean energy economic opportunities. The group—comprised of business leaders, manufacturers, academics, labor representatives, non-profits, and others—produced a shared vision report of how Ohio could create new jobs and economic growth by modernizing its energy economy. Essentially a business case for clean energy growth and innovation, the vision identifies multi-billion dollar opportunities related to attracting leading corporations, transforming transportation, building and deploying clean electricity and energy efficiency, and modernizing the grid, to demonstrate why Ohio is well-positioned to lead if it takes action. The vision also highlights the risks of failing to create conditions that allow Ohio businesses to compete on the national and global levels. After launching the shared vision on May 29, 2018, Synapse and the advisory group will use the report to engage additional Ohio stakeholders. Their combined input will add to a detailed roadmap of specific actions Ohio actors can take to achieve the vision. For more information, see www.poweringohio.org.

Read the report.

Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2018, 2017

Sierra Club retained Synapse to assess the 2017 Integrated Resource Pan (IRP) filed by Puget Sound Energy (PSE). Synapse's review found that the PSE IRP included a reasonable near-term resource plan but contained proposed actions that could lead to an unjustified deviation from that resource plan. In addition, Synapse identified a series of unjustified assumptions and conclusions regarding renewable resource costs and availability and coal plant retirement dates that resulted in a biased long-term resource plan. In comments submitted to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, Synapse recommended that the Commission ensure full oversight of PSE's upcoming resource procurement processes and require PSE to use updated assumptions and enable full stakeholder participation in future IRP cycles.

Related Publication(s)
Comments on Puget Sound Energy's 2017 Integrated Resource Plan
Client:
New Brunswick Electric Utility Board
Year:
2018, 2017

Synapse reviewed New Brunswick Power's 2018/2019 General Rate Case application on behalf of the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board Staff.

Related Publication(s)
Review of New Brunswick Power 2018-2019 Rate Case Application
Client:
Year:
2018

Join us as we trace the evolution of a new reliability standard that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) appears to be endorsing as a part of its docket on resiliency. The FERC rejected the U.S. Department of Energy's recent request for an immediate FERC rule-making to support “fuel-secure resources.” Instead, the FERC initiated an administrative docket (AD 18-7) to solicit comments from RTOS and stakeholders on how to meet new reliability concerns related to fuel storage. Two recent FERC Orders suggest that the FERC is not waiting for a resolution of the AD 18-7 process before directing RTOs to modify their tariffs to “support” necessary resources whether through capacity market enhancements or through cost-of-service agreements. In this webinar, recorded live on July 19th, 2018, Synapse's Paul Peterson provides a play-by-play analysis of these ongoing actions and developments related to reliability. 

We then take a deep dive into distribution level reliability, using New Jersey as a case study. Max Chang leads a discussion on how utilities and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities have invested in distribution infrasture to withstand future large-scale storms in the aftermath of major storm events in 2011 and 2012: Hurricane Irene, the October '11 snowstorm, and Superstorm Sandy.

Moderated by Jenn Kallay

Watch the recording here

Related Publication(s)
Storming Ahead Webinar Slide Deck
Client:
Year:
2018

For the January edition of Synapse's Third Thursday webinar series, we talked strategic electrification with Asa Hopkins, PhD, Kenji Takahashi, and Danielle Goldberg. 

Dr. Hopkins led a big picture discussion on issues that come up for regions that adopt strategic electrification as a strategy for decarbonization, including what quantitative work can be done to assess the opportunity strategic electrification represents, and its impact on the electric system. He provided helpful examples drawn from Synapse's recent work analyzing strategic electrification opportunities in New York and New England for the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships. Kenji Takahashi and Danielle Goldberg then got into the nitty gritty details of a specific efficiency electrification technology: cold climate heat pumps. Mr. Takahashi and Ms. Goldberg have analyzed heat pump cost-effectiveness by examining various scenarios of fuel switching from fossil fuel heating to cold climate/advanced heat pumps. This includes retrofits, early retirements and new construction for different baseline fuels. 

Bruce Biewald, CEO and Founder of Synapse, moderated the discussion, which took place on January 18, 2018. 

Watch the recording.

Related Publication(s)
Strategic Electrification Webinar Slides
Client:
NA
Year:
2018

We've spent early 2018 absorbed in data recently released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). We've been analyzing numbers, creating snappy data visuals, and preparing the Synapse Electricity Snapshot 2018 (available here). In this webinar from March 16, 2018, we discuss the historical trends we found. We also look to the future by reviewing EIA's 2018 Annual Energy Outlook projections for energy use from the electric power, residential, commercial, and transportation sectors through 2050.

In typical Synapse style, we walk through the data using some of our favorite interesting graphs and charts. 

Featuring: Pat Knight, Tommy Vitolo PhD | Moderator: Bruce Biewald

Watch the webinar on our YouTube page.

Related Publication(s)
Trend Setting Webinar Slide Deck
Client:
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Year:
2018, 2017

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy engaged Synapse to provide technical support regarding the Tennessee Valley Authority’s electricity rates. Synapse reviewed trends in electricity prices for industrial and residential customers to assess whether TVA allocates costs across customer classes fairly. Synapse published a white paper on our findings, "Electricity Prices in the Tennessee Valley: Are customers being treated fairly?"

Related Publication(s)
Electricity Prices in the Tennessee Valley
Client:
Conservation Law Foundation, Acadia Center, New Hampshire Office of the Consumer Advocate, PowerOptions, RENEW Northeast, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
Year:
2018

Synapse reviewed ISO New England’s Operational Fuel Security Analysis (OFSA) study published in January and compared the model results with alternative scenarios suggested by New England stakeholders. The report shows how assumptions about demand for energy (electric and gas) and variations in supply resources might impact grid operations and reliability during an extreme winter in 2024/25. The report finds that using reasonable assumptions about demand and supply resources show minimal grid operation concerns and no rolling blackouts. This finding is starkly different from the ISO’s conclusions in its January OFSA study.

Our report was prepared for Conservation Law Foundation, with support from the Barr Foundation, on behalf of a group of NEPOOL participants that requested that additional scenarios be modeled as part of ISO New England’s OFSA.

Related Publication(s)
Understanding ISO New England's Operational Fuel Security Analysis
Maintaining Reliability Under Extreme Conditions: Understanding ISO New England's Operational Fuel Security Analysis
Client:
Minnesota Department of Commerce
Year:
2018

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. To determine how the NSPM’s principles could be applied to Minnesota’s cost-effectiveness framework, Synapse examined Minnesota’s current energy efficiency screening policies and practices and interviewed stakeholders. We used the Resource Value Framework (RVF) described in the NSPM to recommend a Minnesota-specific test as the state's primary test.

Related Publication(s)
Updating the Energy Efficiency Cost-Effectiveness Framework in Minnesota
Stakeholder Presentation - Updating the Energy Efficiency Cost-Effectiveness Framework in Minnesota
Client:
Southern Environmental Law Center
Year:
2018

Synapse provided analysis and expert testimony on behalf of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy for South Carolina Electric & Gas’ (SCE&G) 2018 annual update of solar PV avoided costs under PURPA. Witness Devi Glick submitted testimony (Docket no. 2018-2-E) regarding the appropriate calculation of benefit categories associated with the value of solar calculation for PURPA QF rates and for Act 236 compliance.

Related Publication(s)
Direct Testimony of Devi Glick on SCE&G Fuel Costs
Surrebuttal Testimony of Devi Glick on SCEG Fuel Costs
Client:
Year:
2018

Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) and Synapse conducted a regional assessment of the tools, resources, and data sources used and useful as the region embarks on plans to help meet carbon reduction goals via Strategic Electrification. The work was supported by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

On September 20, 2018, NEEP's Elizabeth Titus joined Synapse's Asa Hopkins and Kenji Takahashi to share the results of the survey and collect additional input on how to move strategic electrification forward in the region.  

This webinar is part of Synapse’s Third Thursday webinar series. Watch the webinar on our YouTube channel.

Related Publication(s)
What's Available and What's Needed for Strategic Electrification Planning and Forecasting in the Northeast Slides
Client:
Energy Foundation
Year:
2018, 2017

Report on the impacts of utility investment in developing competitive markets, particularly with respect to electric vehicle infrastructure.

Related Publication(s)
Utility Investments for Market Transformation
Client:
Year:
2017

Wild fires rage in California. Communities continue rebuilding after devastating storms. The next financial crisis could lurk around the next corner. Worst-case scenarios are happening, but the current public policy framework leaves communities defenseless against them.

On December 21, 2017, we celebrated the release of Worst-Case Economics: Extreme Events in Climate and Finance, the latest book by Frank Ackerman (Synapse Principal Economist). Dr. Ackerman joined Bruce Biewald for our Third Thursday webinar series to discuss his new book, which Juliet Schor described as "highly accessible but profound" and Samuel Bowles called "an important book and a delight to read." 

Here's a brief description from Dr. Ackerman:

Worst-Case Economics Cover

The stocmarket and the climate are well-behaved most of the time – but those are not the times we worry about. Worst-case scenarios are all too real and all too common. The financial crisis of 2008 was not the first or the last to destroy jobs, homeownership and savings for millions of people. Ever-weirder weather includes megastorms clobbering communities from New York to Bangladesh, rising sea levels, and heat waves killing thousands across Europe.

Climate and financial crises are serious events, requiring vigorous responses. Yet public policy is trapped in an obsolete framework with a simplistic focus on average or likely outcomes rather than on dangerous extremes. What would it take to create better analyses of extreme events in climate and finance, and an appropriate policy framework for worst-case risks? Worst-Case Economics offers accessible and surprising answers to these crucial questions.

 

Worst-Case Economics is available in hard-copy and e-book from Amazon or in hard-copy from Barnes & Noble and UK distributors Wordery and Book Depository.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Related Publication(s)
Worst-Case Economics Webinar Slides
Client:
AESC Study Group
Year:
2018, 2017

Avoided Energy Supply Costs in New England 2018 study materials:

For more information about the AESC study, please visit our project page.

Synapse has also conducted supplemental analysis on the avoided costs of compliance of the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act. Visit here for more details.

Related Publication(s)
Appendix B - AESC 2018
Appendix C - AESC 2018
Appendix D - AESC 2018
Appendix J - AESC 2018
AESC 2018 Presentation of Results
Client:
District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment
Year:
2017

Pepco Holdings Inc. has proposed to build a new substation  in the Mt. Vernon area in Washington, DC at a cost of over $150 million. Synapse analyzed the area to determine whether the proposed substation is required to maintain reliability. In the resulting report, Synapse demonstrates how non-wires alternatives such as energy efficiency, distributed generation, demand response, or storage could maintain reliability at a much lower cost.

Related Publication(s)
Alternatives to Building a New Mt Vernon Substation in Washington DC
Client:
E4TheFuture
Year:
2017

Synapse Energy Economics joined with Sustainable Energy Advantage (SEA), as well as members from NECEC, Mass Energy Consumers Alliance, E4TheFuture, and other organizations to analyze the current state of regional renewable portfolio standards in light of many of new policy actions that have been put into place over the last several years. These policy actions include new legislation requiring long-term contracting for renewables and other resources in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, revised incentives for distributed generation resources, changes to RPS polices in other states in New England, proposed Massachusetts-specific CO2 caps, and newly-revised forecasts for electricity sales that take the full impact of new energy efficiency measures into account. 

Related Publication(s)
An Analysis of the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard
Client:
New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel
Year:
2017

Since 2005, Synapse has provided analysis of New Jersey's Basic Generation Service (BGS) procurement options for the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel. The BGS procurement process includes annual auctions held by the State of New Jersey for the procurement of fixed-price, basic electric generation service (BGS-FP). BGS-FP service is the name of the rate plan for those residential and small commercial customers who choose not to use a competitive supplier for their electricity needs. Synapse's BGS procurement analysis takes into consideration the BGS auction process and other factors relevant to procurement options for NJ BGS customers. Synapse's analyses include assessment of procurement options in other states; futures markets for electricity, natural gas, and coal; recent auction/RFP results for BGS-FP-equivalent services from other states; PJM technical issues affecting BGS procurement considerations; and other relevant issues. Based on its analysis of the 2017 proposal, Synapse recommended that the BGS process should not move away from procuring a fixed price product that was meant to protect ratepayers form market volatility to a product that slowly increases protection for bidders at ratepayers’ expense. 

Client:
Consumers for Sensible Energy
Year:
2017

On behalf of Consumers for Sensible Energy and a number of other non-governmental organizations, Synapse analyzed the need for, and the cost of, the Access Northeast (ANE) natural gas pipeline. As proposed, the ANE pipeline relies on a new funding mechanism whereby electric ratepayers would pay for new gas pipelines. This unprecedented funding proposal has spurred controversy and litigation: the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission both rejected this approach, declaring that it violates state laws enacted to restructure the electric utility sector and to protect consumers from undue financial risk. Pipeline proponents claim that the ANE pipeline is needed to relieve capacity constraints on New England’s natural gas pipeline system and that the cost of the pipeline is justified because it will ultimately save money for New England electric ratepayers.

Synapse’s analysis showed otherwise. Any savings created by the ANE pipeline are likely to be outweighed by its costs, which are more than twice what proponents have generally reported. The analysis also indicated that the need for natural gas in New England will decrease dramatically within a few years of ANE’s construction. This would alleviate the capacity constraints cited to justify the pipeline. Synapse modeled energy use, prices, and emissions in a base scenario in which there is no new pipeline compared to a scenario in which the ANE pipeline is constructed. 

Related Publication(s)
Natural Gas in Connecticut: Factsheet
New England's Shrinking Need for Natural Gas
Client:
Washington Office of the Attorney General
Year:
2018, 2017

Synapse’s Rachel Wilson provided analysis and testimony on an Avista Corporation rate case before the Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission. Ms. Wilson evaluated Avista’s production cost modeling, which used the AuroraXMP model, to determine if its requested increase in power costs was reasonable. She found that Avista’s modeling methodology led to a sustained overestimate of annual power supply costs, as evidenced by the compounding of credit deferral balances in its Energy Recovery Mechanism. Ms. Wilson recommended that Avista recalibrate its modeling to allow the Energy Recovery Mechanism to function as intended—to capture the variability between modeled and actual power supply costs. She further recommended that Avista more fully explore the possibility of joining the Western Energy Imbalance Market, which is a real-time wholesale energy market in which participants can buy and sell energy when needed.

Related Publication(s)
Response Testimony of Rachel Wilson in Avista Rate Case
Client:
Southwest Energy Efficiency Project
Year:
2018, 2017

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) conducted a study on benefits of residential heat pumps for space heating and water heating in five major cities in the Southwest. Kenji Takahashi of Synapse Energy Economics played a key advisory role assisting SWEEP with conducting the first major analysis of heat pumps against natural gas heating in the region. More specifically, he reviewed, advised, and offered recommendations on key assumptions and methodologies for evaluating energy, economic, and emissions impacts of heat pumps.

You can read the report on SWEEP's website.

Client:
Burns & Levinson LLP
Year:
2017, 2016

In 2014-2015, Berkshire Gas in Massachusetts placed a moratorium on new services in part of its territory after identifying distribution capacity constraints and insufficient supply resources. On July 8, 2016, Berkshire Gas filed a petition with the Department of Public Utilities seeking approval of its Long-Range Forecast and Supply Plan (F&SL) under D.P.U. 16-103. The company based its plan on analysis of various resource options to increase access to natural gas for the region as a precursor to lifting the moratorium.

On behalf of the Town of Montague, Synapse reviewed and assessed the reasonableness of Berkshire Gas’s F&SL. Our review of the resource plan revealed that while the plan included energy efficiency and demand response as options, it gave little attention to such resources. Instead, the company recommended investment in extensive and expensive new infrastructure options. We concluded that the company could lift the moratorium by implementing a few simple steps: (a) re-establish curtailable agreements with two large customers that already have dual-fuel capability, and (b) change the way it estimates impacts from current and future energy efficiency programs. We also identified additional demand-side resource potential by analyzing the historical performance of gas energy efficiency programs in New England, current program offerings, and a new gas demand-response program based on internet-connected thermostats. Our analysis concluded that with these expanded demand-side resources, the company could expect future peak load to decline from today’s level over the next five years. Furthermore, the future load forecast could be even lower if it incorporated potential impacts from emerging technologies and other factors. Specifically, electric heat pumps and the state’s existing climate change policies are highly likely to lead to substantial electrification in various sectors and to lower overall gas consumption. 

Related Publication(s)
Testimony of Kenji Takahashi Regarding Berkshire Gas Forecast and Supply Plan
Client:
Régionaux de l’Environment du Québec
Year:
2017

Synapse prepared a summary of best practices in utility demand response (DR) programs and then compared those practices with HydroQuebec Distribution's planned DR resource and programs in their 2017-2026 Supply Plan, resulting in a set of recommendations for programmatic activities and revised planning processes. Synapse produced an expert report as well as a presentation used during live testimony.

Related Publication(s)
Best Practices in Utility Demand Response Programs
Best Practices in Utility Demand Response Programs (Testimony Slide Deck)
Client:
Sierra Club
Year:
2017

In February 2017, the utilities with ownership of Navajo Generating Station in Arizona voted to cease operations of the coal-fired power plant. Two months later, Peabody Energy, operator of the mine that supplies fuel to Navajo, presented an analysis before the Arizona Corporation Commission demonstrating that Navajo is economically viable. On behalf of Sierra Club, Synapse examined this study, which was commissioned by Peabody and conducted by Navigant. Synapse found that Navigant relied on overstated market energy prices and understated Navajo's fuel prices, resulting in nearly $2 billion in errors.

 

Related Publication(s)
Chasing the Elusive Benefits of Navajo Generating Station
Client:
Food & Water Watch
Year:
2018, 2017, 2016

The Los Angeles City Council has mandated that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the largest municipally-run utility in the United States, analyze powering 100 percent of demand with renewable energy. To date, LADWP's efforts have been insufficient, as the utility has only published an analysis of a slight increase over current renewable energy targets and is not planning to finalize their 100 percent renewable study until 2020 at the earliest. 

Food & Water Watch engaged Synapse to analyze a potential pathway to 100 percent clean energy in Los Angeles by 2030. In our study, we found that it is possible for LADWP to exclusively use renewable resources to power its system in every hour of the year. What's more, we found that under one of the clean energy pathways analyzed, the transition to 100 percent renewable energy in every hour of the year can occur at no net cost to the system. The resulting report, Clean Energy for Los Angeles, provides a roadmap for how to achieve 100 percent renewables by integrating and harnessing renewable energy more efficiently and investing in additional efficiency, storage, and demand response.

Although the report only focuses on a single city, the results are important and applicable to many other parts of the country. Los Angeles's 4 million residents make the city larger than 22 entire states, while the annual energy served by LADWP is greater than sales in 13 individual states, indicating that if this transition is possible in Los Angeles, it is feasible in other parts of the country as well. 

Related Publication(s)
Clean Energy for Los Angeles
Client:
Riverkeeper, Natural Resources Defense Council
Year:
2017

Clean Energy for New York: Replacement Energy and Capacity Resources for the Indian Point Energy Center Under New York Clean Energy Standard (CES): Report prepared by Synapse Energy Economics for Riverkeeper and Natural Resources Defense Council.

Related Publication(s)
Clean Energy for New York

Pages