Peaker Power Plant Mapping Tool
Clean Energy Group’s Peaker Plant Mapping Tool allows users to access basic operating and emissions information for the U.S. fleet of fossil-fuel peaker power plants, along with demographic information about populations living near each power plant. Peaker plant demographic information can be viewed in three ways: Low Income Percentile, People of Color Percentile, and Demographic Index Percentile (average of Low Income and People of Color). The data indicates significant racial and economic disparities in the communities that are most burdened by peaker plant emissions.
All information included in the tool is based on data made available by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the agency’s Power Plants and Neighboring Communities Mapping Tool (2019 operating and emission data).
Basic Power Plant Information
Basic power plant information includes:
- name of the power plant
- location (county and state)
- utility the power plant is serving
- nameplate capacity (the size of the plant in megawatts)
- fuel type (in cases where the power plant burns both gas and oil, both fuels are listed with relative percentages)
- capacity factor (this represents the fraction of hours the power plant operates throughout the year, so a 5 percent capacity factor means the power plant operated about 438 hours during the year)
The tool defines a peaker power plant as any electricity generating facility with a capacity factor of less than or equal to 15 percent and a nameplate capacity of greater than or equal to 10 megawatts.
Annual emissions information is included for each power plant. Emissions are listed in both total tons of annual emission and the rate of emissions as measured in pounds per megawatt-hour (lb/MWh). Higher emissions rates may indicate older, less efficient power plants or dirtier fuel sources.
Emissions data includes:
- carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) – CO2e includes direct carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and the equivalent 100-year global warming potential of additional greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane.
- nitrogen oxides (NOx) – Exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and other nitrogen oxides can cause severe long-term damage to the respiratory system, including the development of asthma and respiratory infections. NOx also serves as a precursor to the formation of particulate matter and ozone, both of which are harmful to the respiratory system.
- sulfur dioxide (SO2) – Exposure to SO2 can harm the respiratory system, particularly in children and people with asthma. SO2 also serves as a precursor to the formation of particulate matter.
Demographic data includes information about income levels and the racial diversity of people living within a three-mile radius of the power plant. While a three-mile radius can be indicative of populations most directly impacted by power plant emissions, the negative effects of air pollution can harm communities across a broader geographic region.
Demographic information includes:
- total population (within a three-mile radius)
- low-income (household income less than or equal to twice the federal poverty level)
- people of color (individuals not identifying as Non-Hispanic White)
- demographic index (average of low-income and people of color percentages)
Demographic information includes both percentages and percentiles for low-income, people of color, and demographic index. Percentiles represent the ranking of how common each percentage is across the country. For example, a population where 50 percent of residents are considered low-income would be in about the top 80th percentile in the U.S., meaning that 80 percent of communities across the country do not have as high a percentage of low-income residents. The higher the percentile, the higher the percentage of low-income and/or people of color relative to the rest of the country.