Three years ago, Superstorm Sandy left much of Lower Manhattan underwater as a record-setting 13-foot storm surge washed over the streets of New York City. Flooding paralyzed the city’s transportation system and left hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in the dark as substations and emergency generators flooded and failed. As sea levels rise, more power plants and substations along the East and Gulf Coasts risk exposure to flooding that can damage equipment and trigger power outages.
This webinar introduced new analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Lights Out? Storm Surge, Blackouts, and How Clean Energy Can Help. The report looks at the electric grid in five major metropolitan regions—the Delaware Valley, southeastern Virginia, the South Carolina Lowcountry, southeastern Florida, and the central Gulf Coast—and finds that an extensive amount of critical electricity infrastructure in these regions is situated in flood-risk areas today, and that these areas will expand to encompass more infrastructure in the decades ahead.
To maintain the level of electricity reliability on which our safety, health, and daily lives depend, regulators and utilities evaluating threats to the electric grid must stop relying on historical data that greatly underestimate the risk of current and future flooding. At the same time, states, towns, and cities should push for widespread deployment of resilient clean energy solutions that not only protect our communities when the centralized grid goes down, but also lower the electricity sector’s global warming emissions, which will help limit longer-term sea level rise and other climate impacts.
- Steve Clemmer, Director of Energy Research & Analysis, Union of Concerned Scientists
- Julie McNamara, Energy Research Associate, Union of Concerned Scientists
Slides from this webinar are available as a pdf at https://www.cleanegroup.org/assets/2015/Webinar-Slides-11.3.15.pdf
This webinar was a presentation of Clean Energy Group’s Resilient Power Project, and was the third in a series of three webinars marking the 3 year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.