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On February 6, 2018, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released the 2018 Annual Energy Outlook (AEO). The final AEO 2018 contains projections of energy use from the electric power, residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors through 2050. It is important to note that the AEO Reference case is not a forecast, but is instead a projection based on estimates of fuel availability, changes in technology costs, and currently enacted legislation.

Synapse maintains EPA’s Avoided Emissions and Generation Tool (AVERT) model, a publicly-available tool designed to estimate the emissions displaced at electric power plants by incremental additions of energy efficiency and/or renewable energy. Recently, Synapse worked with EPA to implement several upgrades to the AVERT framework, including incorporation of particulate matter (PM2.5) into the tool and several algorithmic improvements. In addition, the release of the 2016 data year means that a full decade of AVERT data is now publicly available.

Today’s electric system looks remarkably different than it looked 10—or even five—years ago. Coal generation is retiring at an unprecedented rate and being replaced by natural gas and renewables. The United States’ wind, solar, and geothermal electric generating capacity now exceeds capacities from hydroelectric and nuclear resources. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are at their lowest levels since the early 1990s, and both total generation and electric sales have remained essentially unchanged for 10 years.

Synapse Principal Economist Liz Stanton's OpEd on natural gas pipelines was recently featured in CommonWealth Magazine.

Want to know how Massachusetts can lower electric bills while safeguarding the health of not just our own children but everyone else's children, too? By following our existing state and federal environmental laws and continuing to lead the nation by setting the standard for the clean energy economy.

At a webinar last week, Clean Power Plan - New Policy or New Normal?,” Synapse’s Dr. Elizabeth A. Stanton hosted Senior Associates Patrick Luckow and Pat Knight for a conversation about how declining costs of both natural gas and solar power impact clean energy planning.

New England’s growing dependence on natural gas has had some in the region worrying about supply constraints. In fact, concerns about natural gas supply and the impacts of proposed new pipelines prompted no fewer than three separate studies on the issue last year. In 2015, three consulting firms released separate reports for different clients analyzing the need for incremental natural gas pipeline in New England through 2030. The three distinctly different approaches to the studies have the potential to create uncertainty for those trying to compare the results.

April 2015 was the first month ever in which more electricity was produced from natural gas-fired generators than from coal-fired generators nationwide, according to data released last week by the EIA. The EIA’s monthly update includes data through April 2015, so we do not yet know how natural gas fared against coal in May and June.

In addition, this April saw the lowest amount of coal-fired generation in 32 years—not since April 1983 has coal-fired generation been as low as it was in April 2015.

In 2014, the U.S. electric system looked remarkably different from how it looked ten—or even five—years ago. In the past year alone, the system nearly doubled the amount of incremental installed capacity from renewables as compared to 2013, saw a 13 percent increase in renewable generation, and reached the lowest level of CO2 emissions since 1996.