Link Foundation Fellowship Report
Gilmore, Elisabeth A.
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Peak hour electricity demand is associated with wholesale electricity prices that are sometimes more than 10 times higher than in off-peak periods. During these high-demand periods congested transmission lines and insufficient generation capacity can lead to brownouts and blackouts. This problem can be especially acute in urban centers. One way to alleviate this problem is to build new peaking plants. We investigated the costs and benefits, including expenditures and adverse health effects, of using existing backup generators and battery based electrical storage facilities to meet peak load demands rather than investing in a new power plant. Using small-scale generation located close to the point of use, rather than a centralized power plant with transmission lines to ship the electricity to where it is needed, is referred to as distributed electricity generation. We found that distributed generation in the form of existing generators installed for backup during blackouts could meet these peak demands cost-effectively. Small electrical storage facilities could also be used. To avoid the transfer of adverse health effects from urban centers to outlying areas, clean power generators must be used to charge the battery.