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Western Interconnection Data Analytics Project (WIDAP)

Bits & Watts Initiative

PIs: Dian Grueneich, Precourt Energy Scholar, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University and David Chassin: Staff Scientist, SLAC National Laboratory (Oct. 2018-present)

Interested in understanding how the Western U.S. electric grid has dramatically changed from reliance on baseload coal and reduced  emissions over the last 15 years? Want to delve deep into these changes at any one of the over 600 fossil-fired generating units in the Western Interconnection between 2001-2016, based on data publicly filed with the U.S. EPA? Want to understand the changes in renewable generation and renewable policies in the West? 

The Western Interconnection Data Analytics Project (WIDAP) is a joint effort between Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy (PIE) Bits and Watts Initiative and the Western Interstate Energy Board (WIEB) to better understand the changing electricity generation in the Western United States.  WIDAP has built a publicly available database, with over 85 million observations of the changing Western grid from 2001-2017.  The WIDAP research demonstrates dramatic shifts in fossil-fired generation and emissions in the West and also makes available public tools for analyzing the data set and producing visualizations about the changes.

Below you will find many informative and educational resources to learn about the WIDAP project and tools to support further research and analysis.

This presentation includes a comprehensive overview of project goals and objectives, and provides details of the technical approach taken. Introduction to WIDAP.


The Changing Role of Coal-fired Generation in the Western United States

The WIDAP team built and analyzed a 15-year database (2001-2016) from historical data made public by the United States (U.S.) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The analysis illustrates changes in coal-fired  electric generation across the Western Interconnection (WI). The research shows that WI coal plants shifted in the 15-year period from baseload operation to load-following regimes.


Climate and Air Pollutants Diverge in the Western Interconnection

From 2001 to 2016, federal air pollution reduction policies, inexpensive natural gas, and plummeting renewable generation costs drove dramatic decreases in power plant emissions of SO2 (80.39% reduction) and NOx (63.14% reduction) throughout emissions in the Western Interconnection (WI). CO2 emissions from WI power plants experienced a less substantial decline, falling 15.45%. This paper examines regulatory drivers of power plant emissions reductions, emissions impacts of operational shifts in coal and gas plants, and the geographic distribution of power plant emissions in the Western Interconnection.


The WIDAP Toolkit: Granular Analysis with the WIDAP Power Plant Globe and Unit-Level Dashboard

The WIDAP database covers almost 600 fossil-fired electric generating units in the WI. This paper describes the development of two first-of-their kind, free, publicly-available analytical tools for the WI – the WIDAP Power Plant Globe and Unit-Level Dashboard. These tools, known as the WIDAP Toolkit, can be used to study and analyze the evolving changes in generation in the WI.


Conference Presentations

Related Documents

Research Team

Principal Investigators

  • Dian Grueneich, Precourt Energy Scholar, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University (June 2017-Sept. 2018)
  • David Chassin: Staff Scientist, SLAC National Laboratory (Oct. 2018-present)


  • Sally Benson, Professor, Energy Resources Engineering, Stanford University; Co-Director, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University; Director, Global Climate & Energy Project, Stanford University

Western Interstate Energy Board (WIEB) Lead

  • Maury Galbraith, Executive Director, Western Interstate Energy Board

Graduate Student Researchers

  • Lead: Ben Lim, Stanford Energy Internships in CA/CO 2017 (SEIC) Graduate Intern at WIEB; Stanford University Civil & Environmental Engineering (June ’18)
  • Max Vilgalys, SEIC 2017 Undergraduate Intern at WIEB; Stanford University Electrical Engineering (June ’17); PhD Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Social & Engineering Systems
  • Austin Park, Masters Candidate, Stanford University Energy Resources Engineering
  • Zachary Burton, PhD Candidate, Stanford University Geological & Environmental Sciences
  • Balthazar Donon, Stanford University Civil & Environmental Engineering (April ’18); PhD Candidate at RTE R&D (, and INRIA (, and LRI (
  • Pierre Lachevre, Stanford University Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering (June ‘18); R&D Engineer at ACRI ST (

WIDAP Toolkit Development Assistance

  • Abhijeet Mahagaonkar, Software Engineer, Start-Up (not yet public)

California Energy Commission (CEC) Assistance

  • Grace Anderson, Leader of Western Collaboration Team


Western Interstate Energy Board (WIEB)Western Interstate Energy Board

Western Interstate Energy Board logo with top half of earth

The Western Interstate Energy Board is an organization of 11 Western States and three western Canadian Provinces. The legal basis of the Energy Board is the Western Interstate Nuclear Compact (Public Law 91-461). The governor of each state and the premier of each province appoints a member to the Board. The Compact provides for the President of the United States to appoint an ex-officio member to the Board.

The Compact states that the purpose of the Board is to provide the instruments and framework for cooperative state efforts to “enhance the economy of the West and contribute to the well-being of the region’s people.” The Board seeks to achieve this purpose by promoting energy policy that is developed cooperatively among member states and provinces and with the federal government.

To learn more about the Western Interstate Energy Board, visit their website at

Stanford Bits & Watts Initiative

Bits & Watts is a major Stanford University initiative focused on innovations for the 21st century electric grid—a new grid paradigm that is needed to incorporate large amounts of clean power and a growing number of distributed energy resources, while simultaneously enabling grid reliability, resilience, security and affordability. Bits & Watts is a generous sponsor of WIDAP research

SLAC National Accelerator LaboratorySLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

SLAC logo

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is one of 10 Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science laboratories and is operated by Stanford University on behalf of the DOE. Since its opening in 1962, SLAC has been helping create the future. We built the world’s longest particle accelerator, discovered some of the fundamental building blocks of matter and created the first website in North America. Grid Integration, Systems, and Mobility (GISMo), is part of SLAC's focus on developing key hardware and software and on applying data science and machine learning to the development of next generation grids.


To learn more about the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, visit their website at