Phasing Out Peaker Plants

This summer the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) issued a “Code Red” for humanity. As the IPCC report documents, the damage driven by burning fossil fuels is now widespread and severe. The report specifically names methane, the primary component of fossil gas, as an extremely potent greenhouse gas–with eighty times more warming power than carbon dioxide pollution over the first 20 years.

We can’t afford to build new fossil gas-fired plants in a climate crisis. Xcel Energy’s decision to remove the Sherco Combined Cycle plant from its alternative plan is a victory for our climate and Xcel customers. However, Xcel’s proposal to build two new gas-fired peaker plants undermines that progress. The proposed peaker plants would burn fossil gas – releasing CO2 into the atmosphere at the plant site and leading to upstream emissions of fugitive methane, during its extraction (usually by fracking) and transportation of the gas. Peaker plants emit more carbon emissions per kilowatt hour than combined cycle plants because they are less efficient and also disproportionately emit health-damaging air pollutants – mainly ozone forming chemicals like nitrogen oxides (NOx) – that contribute to poor local air quality and harm public health.

Learn more about peakers from the resources below, including the webinar MEP sponsored on this issue:

YouTube Video: Phase Out Peakers Webinar

E3 Report Prepared for MN DOC: Minnesota Energy Storage Cost-Benefit Analysis

Phase Out Peakers Website:

Article on Hydrogen from EarthJustice:

EPA Mapping Tool:

CESA Power Markets: