In a first for the state-owned utility, New York Power Authority (NYPA) is investing $1 million to complete a comprehensive assessment of its climate risks in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.
The goal of the study is to enable NYPA to quantify climate impacts to its service area and plan future investments in infrastructure to protect its systems against climate-related events such as storms, sea level rise, extreme heat and other major weather events. Additional collaborators in the project include the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy.
NYPA currently produces 25% of New York State’s power, with 80% of that being hydropower. NYPA operates 16 power generating facilities and maintains more than 1,400 miles of power lines in New York. Climate effects such as heavy winds and rain, flooding, and extreme temperatures could significantly impact water flow through dams, power line reliability, and customer demand for heating and air conditioning, among other issues.
A distinguishing aspect of Argonne’s climate modeling approach is the ability to project future climate in a very localized area, such as a neighborhood. Additionally, Argonne’s models can assess climate risks at scale for specific buildings and equipment in a matter of hours using the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility’s (ALCF) Theta supercomputer.
“Large power utilities like NYPA need to anticipate and prepare for the possible impacts of extreme weather events to better address and harden our infrastructure and to better inform our business decisions,” said Adrienne Lotto, vice president, chief risk and resilience officer at NYPA. “The climate model simulations and data analyses developed by Argonne will provide a better understanding of our critical facilities, assets and equipment and inform our future risk mitigation decisions and capital spending on resiliency efforts.”
Con Edison, also based in New York and one of the largest investor-owned utilities in the U.S., recently completed a similar Climate Change Vulnerability Study, which estimated that the company may need to invest between $1.8 billion and $5.2 billion by 2050 on targeted programs to protect against the impacts of climate change. In December 2020, Con Edison subsequently released its Climate Change Implementation Plan, which includes a set of actions focused on load forecasting, load relief planning, reliability planning, asset management, facility energy systems planning, emergency response, and worker safety.