Fourth Symposium on Policy and Socio—Economic Research
21st Conference on Climate Variability and Change


Climate change and New York City's energy sector: evaluation of vulnerabilities, impacts and adaptation strategies

Stephen A. Hammer, Columbia University, New York, NY; and L. Parshall

New York City and New York State are both in the early stages of assessing how climate change will affect the energy sector. According to the existing literature, climate change is associated with: 1) changing seasonal patterns of demand, 2) changing availability of energy resources and 3) operational impacts on electricity infrastructure, including supply and distribution systems. We present our initial identification of key vulnerabilities and climate risks, along with a framework for a more complete assessment. To identify climate risks, we distill quantitative and qualitative information on regional climate change developed by the NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The full analysis for both the city and state will be carried out over the coming year.

Next, we characterize a range of potential management, infrastructure and policy adaptations that may be employed as part of the city and state's overall adaptation strategy. These may include changes in power dispatch rules to deemphasize the use of vulnerable system assets, the establishment of larger demand response incentives to reduce energy demand during extreme heat events and associated peak load demands, and strategies to promote the more rapid deployment of distributed generation technologies (including solar, on-site CHP technology, etc.) to both reduce demand on the grid and reduce site-specific system vulnerabilities. Infrastructure changes may include designs for more resilient systems with flood barriers around power plants adjacent to waterways or investment in additional transmission capacity to increase possibilities for rerouting power. Policy changes may focus on pricing strategies or other incentives or mandates to reduce overall energy consumption (e.g., peak load demand pricing), changes in land use practices to site power generation capacity in areas less vulnerable to flooding or extreme weather events, and requirements that utilities begin upgrading their transmission and distribution system to prepare for demand growth associated with changing temperature levels.

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Joint Session 9, Climate and Policy: From Local to Global
Monday, 12 January 2009, 4:00 PM-5:30 PM, Room 121A

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