Peaker Plants: A Nationwide Problem

How does using too much electricity when there's low supply affect the planet and its people?

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You've heard us talk repeatedly about Peaker Plants, how Meltek’s primary way of helping the environment is by phasing out Peaker Plants.

But just what are they?

And how are they worse than regular power plants?

What are Peaker Plants?
Peaker Plants are power plants that generally run only when there is a high demand for electricity. They are turned on last during high electricity demand periods.  The name Peaker Plant was created because they are only turned on when energy consumption is “peaking.” A Peaker Plant is either a gas turbine or engine that burns natural gas.

Why are Peaker Plants used?
Peaker Plants are used when the demand for electricity exceeds supply. Since they are not on all the time and supply power only occasionally during peak demand, the power supplied commands a much higher price per kilowatt hour than base load power. Peaker Plants are, thus, more expensive for the people to consume and for the utilities to maintain. They also impact the environment much more negatively than regular power plants.

Where are they located? What are the negative impacts?
There are 1,148 Peaker Plants across the United States. Unfortunately, racial and economic disparities are associated with Peaker Plants’ locations. In general, they are in low-income and the poorest areas. Three emissions that Peaker Plants release into the environment are carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). Carbon dioxide is harmful to the environment as it directly affects global warming. Nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide can cause severe long-term damage to respiratory systems, especially those suffering from asthma.  

Peaker Plants In New York

There are 50 oil and gas-fired Peaker Plants across New York, 16 of them being in the NYC area. Those 16 Peaker power plants are all powered by fossil fuels and primarily located in low-income, minority communities of color. Many have been operating since the 1970s and earlier and have little pollution-control equipment to reduce emissions.

In the NYC region, people who live in the Bronx and Brooklyn are most vulnerable and susceptible to Peaker Plant pollution. There have been many campaigns to shut down Peaker Plants and replace them with cleaner, more sustainable energy sources; however, they have yet to be successful. Source:

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) released a new report revealing that New York City residents, through their electric bills, have paid more than $4.5 billion over the past decade to owners of power plants that emit high levels of harmful pollutants in communities of color in New York City.  
Peaker Sites by Capacity and Average Unit Age in New York.
Peaker Plants are not only bad for the environment, but the emissions of CO2 and NOx are also extremely harmful to the health of the nearby communities, especially those with compromised health.

They contribute to respiratory illnesses, cancer, and premature mortality near the emission source. NYC-based Peaker Plants cost the State an estimated $43 million annually, increasing to $50 million by 2030 based on morbidity and mortality.

Emissions from NYC-based Peaker Plants cost the world about $332 million annually, increasing to $377 million by 2030. Worldwide, Peaker Plants also contribute to climate change, which indirectly results in changes to net agricultural productivity, and property damage from increased flood risks.

Thus, the benefits of retiring these polluting Peaker Plants outweigh the installation costs of switching over to a more energy-efficient and clean grid.
Total Cumilative Peaker Plant Emissions in 2018 in New York City
How to retire these Peaker Plants?
Participating in Meltek's free demand response program is an easy and no-cost way to ensure Peaker Plants' retirement and make way for investments in renewable energy. Participants will receive compensation for their effort in lowering their electricity usage for a few hours during peak demand, effectively removing the need to turn on Peaker Plants if demand for electricity goes down significantly enough.
Reducing peak demand through energy efficiency, demand response, and storage is key to enabling Peaker retirement. Participating in our free program can help us phase out Peaker Plants. We will pay you to use less electricity during peak demand. With decreased demand, NYC can stop using dirty Peaker Plants. Sign up here for our free program.