The United States relies on more than 1,000 natural gas– and oil-fired “peaker” power plants across the country to meet the requirements of infrequent peaks of electricity demand. These peaker plants tend to be expensive and inefficient to run and emit high rates of carbon dioxide and health-harming criteria air pollutants for every megawatt-hour generated as compared to baseload natural gas plants. Peaker plants are also disproportionately located in disadvantaged communities, where vulnerable populations already experience high levels of health and environmental burdens.
However, renewable energy and energy storage systems are beginning to emerge as competitive replacements for this fossil fuel infrastructure. Together with the Clean Energy Group, PSE is analyzing opportunities across eight states to replace peaker power plants with energy storage and renewables. Our analysis will incorporate regulatory and market data to determine where energy storage may be the most economically competitive. We will also study emissions, demographic, and environmental justice data to identify locations where power plant replacement may bring about the greatest equity and environmental health benefits.
PSE is conducting this work in consultation with a broad stakeholder group that includes community groups, industry experts, and researchers.
Phase I of this project will focus on developing screening criteria to identify candidate peaker plants across California, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and New Jersey. The map below shows these peaker plants across the first five of these states.
Phase II will focus on replacement of specific power plants with energy storage and renewable energy resources.
Elena Krieger, PhD
Clean Energy Program Director, Project Director