CPUC report urges in-state utilities to do rigorous study of climate vulnerability

A new report from staff at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) encourages investor owned utilities to do rigorous climate change vulnerability assessments of their key assets.

“Climate Adaptation in the Electric Sector: Vulnerability Assessments & Resiliency Plans” was issued Jan. 7.

The white paper encourages utilities to do extensive vulnerability studies on their key assets, the electric system as a whole, and their customers. The CPUC document “also encourages the IOUs to construct resilience plans that cost out a range of options from full mitigation of a vulnerability, to partial mitigation options, to inaction noting the costs and consequences of each option.”

The Principal Author was Kristin Ralff-Douglas, a senior policy analyst with CPUC.

Three of California’s large investor-owned utilities are members of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Partnership for Energy Sector Climate Resilience and as part of their membership have agreed to conduct vulnerability assessments and produce resilience plans in 2016.

The CPUC report says the utility assessments should include:

• Current and future generation and distribution assets not owned by the utility

• The entire supply chain for fuel and critical parts

• Assets relied on in the telecommunications and water sectors

• California-wide and regional grid as an interconnected system

• Emergency management procedures

• Vulnerable communities, and;

• Institutional barriers.    

The report says California is already experiencing impacts from climate change such as an increased number of wildfires, sea level rise and severe drought.

In April 2015, Gov. Edmund (Jerry) Brown (D) signed Executive Order B-30-15 that called for an adaptation implementation plan for each sector of the economy.

As part of the energy sector efforts to create an implementation plan, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) held a joint workshop in July 20153 to better understand the adaptation efforts at the large investor-owned utilities.

At that workshop, the four large investor-owned California utilities (IOUs) Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Southern California Gas (SoCalGas), and one municipally-owned utility, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), outlined their current and future efforts to adapt to climate change.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.