Image: GRID Alternatives

Supplying reliable and sustainable energy to the state’s economy requires planning and policies underpinned by a commitment to utilization of the best available science. To this end, California’s energy infrastructure must be designed to cope with the state’s highly variable conditions and frequent disruptions from wildfires, storms, and floods, which will be exacerbated by more frequent and intense natural disasters brought by a changing climate. The impacts of climate change have potential to be drastic for the energy sector. For instance, changes in temperatures, precipitation patterns, extreme events, and sea-level rise have the potential to decrease the efficiency of thermal power plants and substations, decrease the capacity of transmission lines, render hydropower less reliable, spur an increase in electricity demand, and put energy infrastructure at risk of flooding.[1]

To address resilience of the energy sector, local jurisdictions must work with utilities and regulators. At the state level, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) are working to address the effects of climate disruption on the energy sector. Priorities for the energy sector include actionable research, working with vulnerable communities, and continuing to invest in renewable energy, renewable distributed generation, energy efficiency, and building retrofits. All of these efforts can bolster and incorporate climate adaptation, limiting climate impacts while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A priority should be on improving energy sector resilience for vulnerable communities, as these communities will suffer disproportionately from the impacts of climate change.[2] Another important piece is for investor-owned utilities and other energy infrastructure owners to develop robust vulnerability assessments and resilience plans, incorporating the risks from a standardized set of climate scenarios.[3] Local governments can partner with utilities in these areas, to provide energy security, reduce energy demand, and improve system reliability.

All Resources for Energy