Environmental policy, renewable energy, and demand response

Overview
Events

The gradual recognition of the impact that emissions from electric generating plants have had on climate has driven unprecedented changes in environmental policy and regulation, as well as the rapid development of renewable energy generation and demand response and energy efficiency programs. These technological changes are widely viewed as the most environmentally benign technologies available to satisfy existing and new demand for electricity. Responding to these changes—and the uncertainty about the nature and scope of future regulations—requires a thorough understanding of complex interactions across markets, the development of appropriate business and compliance strategies, and the accurate assessment of the costs and benefits of the deployment of these new energy supply technologies.

Bates White’s experts bring decades of professional experience, constant monitoring of trends, and continued involvement in the latest developments to take on the issues faced by clients. We combine deep economic and technical expertise with the necessary analytical rigor to provide clients with the ability to see the “big picture.” The selected engagements described below highlight the depth and breadth of our work, as well as our ability to apply state-of-the-art methodologies and analysis tools to the challenges of “greening” the energy sector.

Environmental policy and regulation

Government and industry concerns and conflicts over the environmental impacts of energy resource development have resulted in new environmental regulations and increased litigation. These concerns are exacerbated by greater uncertainty about the nature and scope of future regulation. These trends, which show no signs of abating, complicate the task of developing appropriate business and compliance strategies. Bates White’s experts understand and are able to explain the morass that is today’s global environmental policy so that our clients can make rational and supportable economic and operational decisions. The services we provide include:

  • Expert consulting and testifying services
  • Policy design
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Emissions trading
  • Water rights and supply analysis
  • Environmental compliance strategies
  • Permitting and EIS support
  • Catastrophic risk analysis
  • Economic impact studies

For more information about the approaches, methodologies, and models used by Bates White in the analysis of environmental policy, download our environmental policy brochure.

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Renewable energy

Renewable electricity is the fastest growing segment of the electric generation market, and as such, it provides significant investment opportunities. Generation investors, utilities, lenders, insurers, and energy regulators all seek to maximize their gain from these opportunities. Bates White helps assess the risks that attend this booming industry, including market and operational risks related to future power prices, changes in weather, transmission access and pricing, and prices of capital equipment and feed stocks; the technological risks inherent in generation technologies that continue to evolve and mature; engineering risks associated with the impacts of variable-output technologies (like wind power) on transmission system stability; and the regulatory risks associated with changes in state and federal incentive policies, cost recovery methods, and cost allocation.

Bates White’s experts have the practical knowledge and analytical tools to:

  • Forecast the hourly production of solar thermal and photovoltaic generation using engineering models
  • Forecast transmission system congestion and locational marginal prices that help establish the viability of renewable generation
  • Simulate large, integrated transmission markets to estimate asset performance and value
  • Evaluate the effects and costs of integrating variable-output renewable technologies on transmission system stability and reliability
  • Prepare and deliver expert testimony and regulatory support on transmission cost allocation, rate of return, and pricing policies

The following engagements illustrate the breadth of our experience in the assessment of renewable energy generation:

  • Conducted detailed valuation analysis of Allegheny Hydro plants for New York State Electric & Gas Corporation (NYSEG) in support of settlement negotiations with plant owners. The analysis considered the value to NYSEG of assuming ownership under expected default by owners under existing PPA.
  • Developed a GIS-based project siting methodology for utility-scale solar PV plants that considers the location of transmission/subtransmission infrastructure along with other known siting constraints, including county land-use plans, utility and conservation easements, environmentally-sensitive areas and critical habitats, state and national parks, and military bases. Parcel ownership level data helped the developer expedite project land acquisition.
  • Advised the developer of a 500-MW wind project in northern Baja California, México on the technical, commercial, and regulatory aspects of interconnection and new transmission infrastructure for export to California. Facilitated certification as an in-state resource by the California Energy Commission and performed comparative analysis of environmental and other siting regulations in the United States and México.
  • For a leading PV manufacturer, estimated and compared the levelized cost of electricity produced by thin-film solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal parabolic trough generating facilities. To this end, our experts developed bottom-up component and system-level cost estimates for solar PV and CSP facilities and forecasted the cost escalation for supply constrained and specialized materials and components used in these plants. Hourly production simulations of the plants were performed using a customized application of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Solar Advisory Model, a detailed engineering model of solar generation technologies.

For more information about the approach, data, and models used by Bates White in the analysis of renewable energy, download our brochure on renewable energy services.

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Demand response and energy efficiency

The following engagements illustrate the breadth of our experience in the area of demand response and energy efficiency:

  • Performed a market assessment of energy efficiency technologies and combined heat and power for industries in the California/Baja California cross-border region for the CEC. Designed an innovative market research framework using field surveys (and other resources) and GIS techniques to collect and deliver market data that enabled US technology and project development companies to better target potential customers. To improve survey response rates, our experts arranged survey collaborations with key industrial chambers of the three major cities and the Baja California State Government.
  • Bates White econometricians modeled a utility’s inverted block rate structure and estimated electricity demand elasticities for various levels of customer income and electric end-use appliance holdings. Elasticity estimates such as these are essential for estimating the impact of dynamic pricing programs or conducting cost-benefit analyses of price-based energy efficiency programs. However, most publicly available elasticity estimates are from an era in which appliances, demand response technologies, and electricity prices differed greatly from those we see today. The results of the analysis were introduced in testimony by an affiliated expert studying the impact of proposed changes in the utility’s rate structure on low-income customers.
  • On behalf of the AIM Foundation, our experts evaluated the benefit-cost assessment methodologies for energy efficiency (EE) programs in Massachusetts. Bates White evaluated existing assessment methods and program implementation, as well as proposals to substantially expand EE programs funded through mandatory electricity surcharges.  In addition, implications for cost effectiveness of the EE programs and economic impacts on Massachusetts business were assessed.
  • Our experts possess more than 30 years of experience in the estimation of demand response and of customer choice regarding participation in demand response programs. One of our experts was instrumental in the design and implementation of many of the early two-part, real-time pricing programs in the United States.  She led the analysis of the demand response for many of these programs, as well as the analysis of Pool Price Contracts in the early days of the UK competitive power market. The results of these analyses were used to integrate demand response into utility commitment and dispatch algorithms, to evaluate program impact, and to develop menus of products designed to transition to competition. More recent work has included assessing the need to update prior demand response analyses to account for changed technology, market structures, prices, and institutional imperatives; review of the status of advanced metering infrastructure in California, New York, and Ontario for the Australian regulatory body; and advice to the Electric Power Research Institute on the incorporation of demand response in risk management programs.
  • Testified before the New York Public Service Commission on the inadequacy of energy efficiency and demand-response programs as fully equivalent alternatives to a proposed 190-mile HVDC New York Regional Interconnect, Inc. (NYRI) transmission line. The testimony was introduced in proceedings for the application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the proposed line.

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