Electricity infrastructure is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In recent years, electricity generation, transmission, and distribution assets across the U.S. have been affected by heat waves, extreme cold, storms, and wildfires. Climate change is already increasing the severity of these extreme events and leading to other, more gradual changes in baseline weather and environmental conditions (e.g., higher average temperatures and sea levels), which will place added stress on electricity systems. Unless electric utilities plan accordingly, their customers are likely to experience more frequent and longer lasting outages and other service disruptions, and face higher costs.
To prepare for the risks posed by climate change, electric utilities must engage in a process of climate resilience planning. Through such planning, utilities identify climate-related vulnerabilities within their systems, and explore options to enhance system resilience. Some state public utility commissions / public service commissions have recently issued orders mandating climate resilience planning by electric utilities. Most have not, however. Many electric utilities are yet to integrate consideration of climate risks into system planning, design, operation, and other decisions.
This toolkit is a joint project of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Initiative on Climate Risk and Resilience Law. This toolkit provides information on ways to enhance climate resilience planning by electric utilities. This toolkit is divided into four sections. The toolkit complements sections one through three of the report, Climate Risk in the Electricity Sector: Legal Obligations to Advance Climate Resilience Planning by Electric Utilities, jointly issued by Environmental Defense Fund and the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law in December 2020 and published by the Environmental Law Review in 2021.