Panel Paper: Policy Options for Adapting Electric Power Systems Worldwide to Climate Change

Saturday, November 8, 2014 : 2:45 PM
Enchantment Ballroom C (Hyatt)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Alexander Smith and Marilyn A. Brown, Georgia Institute of Technology
After working in the shadow of the dominant climate mitigation focus, climate adaptation has recently become a growing perspective among scholars in policy-related fields. Climate adaptation scholarship has focused upon climate-sensitive human activities, such as agriculture, water resource management, and life in coastal territories. While power system managers and regulators have given resilience much attention after 2012’s catastrophic Hurricane Sandy, the primary points of attention have been large-scale, high-cost infrastructure measures toward goals such as “grid-hardening.” The body of work on climate change adaptation outside of the power sector offers lessons for scholars and policymakers focusing upon climate adaptation of electric power systems. We review case studies, review articles, and theoretical framing works to illustrate some of the key insights that power system policymakers should consider when designing climate adaption policies for power systems. We also present forecasts of outcomes under a scenario of unexpected electricity demand growth, which can arise from unexpectedly rapid warming, and the outcomes when an adaptation measure is introduced under that scenario. The scenario forecasting illustrates how existing tools can be used to integrate information about adaptation benefits into electric power system policymaking.