The Public Utility Data Liberation (PUDL) Project

Electric utilities report a huge amount of information to the US government and other public agencies. This includes yearly, monthly, and even hourly data about fuel burned, electricity generated, operating expenses, power plant usage patterns and emissions. Unfortunately, much of this data is not released in well documented, ready-to-use, machine readable formats. Data from different agencies tends not to be standardized or easily used in tandem. Several commercial data services clean, package, and re-sell this this data, but at prices which are too high to be accessible to many smaller stakeholders.

The Public Utility Data Liberation (PUDL) project takes information that’s already publicly available, and makes it publicly usable, by cleaning, standardizing, and cross-linking utility data from different sources in a single database. As of June, 2018, the PUDL database includes information from FERC Form 1 and EIA Forms 860 & 923, focusing on fuel use, generation mix, and power plant operating costs.  We are working to integrate the EPA’s Continuous Emissions Monitoring dataset, and working to better link FERC & EPA together in a unified system.

This information allows users to explore the operating costs of individual power plants, and see how fuel costs impact the viability of different types of generation.  It can highlight the competitiveness of renewable electricity in the market today.  It can show how the generation mix of different utilities has evolved over time, and how the usage of individual power plants has changed as fuel prices have changed and more renewable generation has been brought online.

By making this database and associated software available under liberal open data and open source licenses, we hope to enable a broader variety of stakeholders to participate quantitatively in electricity regulation and climate policy discussions at the local, state, and federal level. We want to see it used by data journalists, grassroots renewable energy activists, climate change activists, small renewable energy and demand side management companies, and non-profit organizations.

Check out some of the projects we’ve been supporting!

If you or your organization have other data you would like to see integrated into the database, or suggestions for how it could be made to serve your purposes more effectively, please get in touch with us. If you have questions you’d like answered, but don’t have the skills or time required to use the data yourself, we are interested in performing those analyses for other organizations at very reasonable rates. You can reach us at: hello@catalyst.coop.