Dorothy Chan ’26


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project Title

A Case Study on the Future of Peaker Plants in New York City

Certificate(s): Sustainable Energy, Urban Studies

New York operates on a transmission bottleneck, forcing its most densely populated areas to rely on peaker plants — outdated fossil fuel plants that only run a few times a year during periods of “peak” demand. Peakers are typically located in environmental justice communities, cost millions of dollars to maintain and produce highly polluting emissions, all of which bring cause for their retirement as soon as possible. For my research project, I first ranked which peakers should be retired first based on technical, environmental and financial factors represented by the capacity factor, surrounding air pollution and operating costs of each plant, respectively. Then, I used a least-cost optimization tool for electricity resource planning to model New York’s electrical grid in 2025, 2030 and 2040. I established these basic ranking and timeline frameworks in hopes that they may be further used in other urban areas that rely on peaker plants. I especially want to highlight the prioritization of disadvantaged communities in transitioning to a zero-emissions future. This internship allowed me to explore my interests in energy systems and urban planning, which I plan to continue pursuing through my concentration and certificates.

Internship Year


Project Category

Innovation and a New Energy Future


Energy Systems Analysis Group, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, Princeton University - Princeton, New Jersey


Eric Larson, Senior Research Engineer, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment; Cecelia Isaac, Associate Professional Specialist, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment