This article may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. It was last updated for 1.7.
Power is an essential requirement for nearly every building in your city. Most public buildings will not be able to operate without a supply of electricity. Citizens and businesses in your zoned areas will only tolerate being without power for a short time before they move out.
Like water and sewage, the demand for electricity varies between different buildings. The challenge for a mayor is to supply enough power to meet these demands, as well as ensuring that all parts of the city are connected to the power grid.
The choice of how to generate this power is up to you, there are multiple different options each with their upsides and downsides. Power plants usually cause some ground and/or noise pollution, which should be taken into consideration when deciding the type and placement of power generators. The utility of wind and hydro-electric power will also depend on the natural geography of the terrain. Each power supply, except for the nuclear, have inconvénients.
Wind power produces significant noise pollution, and production varies greatly with the weather. Off-shore wind power (Advanced Wind Turbine, Wave Power Plant) is far more efficient than land-based wind power, but must be placed on water. Noise from the Advanced Wind Turbine can be less of an issue as placing them in the water can keep them far enough from city buildings. Wave Power Plants, like the wind turbines, produce more power when placed in windy areas. Solar production varies with the daytime sunlight intensity, and therefore varies greatly with the weather. At night, output drops to 70% of the daytime value. Coal and Oil based power produces heavy ground and noise pollution. These plants require their fuel supplies to be regularly replenished, so if there is traffic congestion in the city these buildings will cease production when fuel supplies run out. They should be placed very close to a good highway access point to mitigate this problem. A Dam will greatly affect the water level, and are extremely expensive. Dams can block pathways for cargo and passenger ships. They can be challenging to place, and the player is advised to save their game before attempting the placement of a hydroelectric dam. Incinerator produces a low amount of energy, and with a great amount of ground pollution. Garbage management is also important to make the incinerator efficient.
Electricity grid & power lines
Ordinarily, electricity can be distributed from building to building over short distances. Sometimes it is necessary to transfer power over greater distances, and this can be done using power lines or building wind turbines. Power lines can be found in the Electricity panel in the City Services. Place power lines within the power grids to connect them. While power lines can be destroyed by lightning strikes, the wind turbine cannot. Also, the wind turbine has a very big power grid around it.
Power lines can be elevated using the page-up/page-down keys, just like roads. This is sometimes necessary to cross elevated roadways or roads in uneven terrain. Per cell, power lines cost ₡20 to build and ₡0.48/week to maintain. Power lines consist of occasional pylons between which wires high enough to cross roads and railway lines are suspended.
Types of power plants
Roughly defined, there are four types of power plants. Wind, resource-based, hydro-electric, and solar/nuclear. Each type behaves somewhat differently.
There are two wind-based power plants in the base game; the wind turbine, and the advanced wind turbine which is only built over water. A third wind based power plant is the "Wave Power Plant" from the "High-Tech Buildings" DLC. It is placed on water, and the wind "pushes waves through the plant" to generate electricity.
Wind-based power plants are more effective the higher the wind speed where they're located, an overview of this can be seen in the wind interface which is automatically activated when placing wind plants; the darker the green area the higher the wind speed, the higher the energy produced the higher the noise. Wind speed will vary depending on the weather; rain, snow, and fog will reduce their power output. Buildings (including turbines) will reduce wind speed near them by a small amount. Also, wind based buildings occupies a lot of space and costs a lot.
The regular wind turbine can only be placed on land, while the advanced wind turbine can only be placed on water. Neither requires road access, or provides jobs. Wind power produces significant noise pollution.
At maximum effect, wind power costs ₡10/MW.
Once unlocked, the advanced wind turbine is generally preferred. It is more efficient, both in terms of cost and space requirements, and areas with wind speed high enough for maximum effect are generally a lot more common on water. Plus, water space is generally less in demand than land areas, and generating power in water areas makes it easier to dissipate the noise pollution over unoccupied areas.
There are three resource-based power plants; coal, oil, and garbage. They consume resources and produce significant amounts of pollution.
Coal and oil power plants will have full reserves of their resources when they are built, whereas garbage incinerators will start off empty. The fuel for these buildings will need to be supplied via trucks, and a plant will become inoperative if its deliveries cannot be made. Further supplies of oil and coal can be produced by the appropriate regions of specialized industry (for the purposes of the game, coal and ore are equivalent), however they can also be imported. Garbage for incinerators must be collected from within the city.
Coal power plants produce energy at ₡14/MW, and oil power plants at ₡16/MW. Wind and solar are more efficient to run and produce no pollution, but have a considerably higher initial cost. In the short term, coal and oil power plants are the cheapest method of increasing a city's power capacity and there producing a constant amount of energy which is not affected by the weather. For example, adding 40 MW of capacity costs ₡19k with a coal plant, but ₡30k with a set of optimal wind turbines. It will take at least 68 weeks for wind power to make up this difference on lower running costs.
The garbage incinerator is only tangentially a power generator; its main purpose is to dispose of garbage. At ₡120/MW it is by far the least efficient power plant in the game, and has a similarly terrible initial cost per MW-capacity. The power generation rate is proportional to the amount of garbage in the reserve, an incinerator is only generating at 100% capacity when it is at least 50% full.
Depending on the geography, a city may or may not be able to build a useful hydro-electric dam.
Hydro-electric power is the most complicated power generation in the game. The length of dams can be adjusted at will when constructing, which will result in a difference in the height of the dam. The terrain on the both side of the river will also contribute to this. Building a short dam in valley can also result in a high dam. A higher dam will cause the water to rise higher; this may cause flooding in the low-lying areas upstream of the river. The amount of power generated is according to the difference in potential energy of the water above and below the dam, the difference in height of the water levels. The larger the difference, the more power output. It also tends to produce less electricity when the electricity demand is low (allowing less water to pass through it), and will function at maximum efficiency when the electricity demand is high.
The best option to maximize power output with the least cost is building dams in rivers with steep riversides. Such dams will then be quite high and generate huge amounts of power.
It is not efficient to place water pumping stations below the dam, as water flowing through the dam might not be consistent because it generates electricity according to the demand. The sudden demolition of a dam holding back a large quantity of water can cause a large wave of water to sweep through downstream areas, causing flooding and damage to buildings.
Solar and nuclear
Solar Power provides 70% of its power at night and will cause a drop in electricity production.
Nuclear power will produce a "consistent amount" of power regardless of its location or any other factor other than service funding. Solar power will only produce consistent power during the day cycle and will stop functioning during the night cycle.
The solar power plant will produce 160MW at ₡7.5/MW, the most efficient in the game other than the Fusion Power Plant monument, and potentially hydro-electric power. From a gameplay optimization perspective there is little reason not to switch to solar power when it becomes available.
The nuclear power plant produces 640MW at ₡12.5/MW. While significantly more expensive than solar power, it does have the advantage of using less space per MW, though space use is generally not considered a significant factor.
Custom power plants
Custom power plants are available in the Steam Workshop.
List of power plants
Below is a table of all the buildings that generate power.
The "Power Usage" policy reduces electricity consumption by 11% in its area of effect, at a cost of ₡5/week/building.