Massachusetts Takes Critical Step Towards Climate-Resilient Utilities
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities is requiring the state’s biggest electricity provider, Eversource, to assess its vulnerability to climate change and develop a climate adaptation plan.
Read the entire article at Conservation Law Foundation.
In the wake of a devastating 2017 hurricane season, it’s clear that climate change impacts such as storms and flooding pose significant threats to the infrastructure we rely on every day – including our electric grid. However, few utility companies have examined where and how they are vulnerable to such impacts or taken the necessary steps to reduce these risks.
As weather and temperature patterns continue to change, our existing electrical system will become less reliable and less able to bounce back quickly from catastrophic weather events. In Massachusetts, the combination of a vulnerable electric grid and an extreme storm would have significant consequences on human health and safety.
This month, Massachusetts took a critical step in addressing these risks and making its electric utilities climate ready – a step that could serve as a model for the rest of the nation.
Eversource has until the end of February to complete its adaptation plan, which will include proposed metrics and benchmarks to help measure its progress. The company will also be required to assess the climate pollution from its existing power plants and propose a target to reduce those emissions.
Even more importantly, the Department of Public Utilities states that this planning process will help guide future energy infrastructure investments by Eversource. This may be a signal that the Department will be more cognizant of whether Eversource has considered climate conditions when assessing future capital expenditures.
In issuing its decision, the Department has recognized that Eversource has a duty to provide a safe and reliable electric system and that doing so includes the consideration of climate change risks. The Department is also acknowledging that planning for climate adaptations is in the public interest.