Climate Change and the U.S. Energy Sector: Regional Vulnerabilities and Resilience Solutions

Changes in climate create diverse challenges across the U.S. energy system. Some energy infrastructure assets have already suffered damage or disruption in services from a variety of climate-related impacts, such as higher temperatures, rising sea levels, and more severe weather events. In the absence of concerted action to improve resilience, energy system vulnerabilities pose a threat to America’s national security, energy security, economic well- being, and quality of life.

Building climate change resilience into our energy infrastructure planning is a challenging and complex undertaking. Planning horizons can span several decades (the typical service life of most energy assets), associated investments can extend into the billions of dollars, and relevant technologies can change rapidly. Some climate change impacts may trigger cascading effects on natural resources, energy demand, and supply chains. Challenges are compounded when addressing climate risks at the regional or local level, where climate change projections are subject to less certainty than at the national scale.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has proactively launched numerous initiatives to support and facilitate energy sector climate preparedness and resilience at national, regional, and local levels. In addition to enhancing resilience to climate change, these actions may also have co-benefits that accommodate non-climate resilience needs (e.g., aging infrastructure, cybersecurity, physical attacks, geomagnetic storms). To assist infrastructure owners and utility planners, DOE has compiled this report on region- specific energy vulnerabilities to climate change (see Figure ES-1) and current resilience solutions.

President's State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

At state, local, tribal, and territorial levels, leaders are making bold decisions on ways to invest in more resilient infrastructure, revise land use, update building codes, and adjust natural resource management and other practices to improve the resilience of their communities to climate impacts. The Federal Government has a critical role to play in supporting these efforts by ensuring that Federal policies and programs incorporate climate change, incentivize and remove barriers to community resilience, and provide the information and assistance communities need to understand and prepare for climate risks. The Federal Government also has a responsibility to protect its own investments, such as military installations and space launch facilities, and ensure that the lands and resources it holds in the public trust are managed for a changing climate.

In order to better support communities across the country as they prepare for the impacts of climate change, the Task Force proposes that the Administration advance actions across the Federal Government that align with the following overarching principles:

 Require consideration of climate-related risks and vulnerabilities in the design, revision, and implementation of all Federal policies, practices, investments, regulations, and other programs.

  •  Maximize opportunities to take actions that have dual-benefits of increasing community resilience and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  •  Strengthen coordination and partnerships among Federal agencies, and across Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions as well as economic sectors.
  •  Provide actionable data and information on climate change impacts and related tools and assistance to support decision-making at all levels.
  • Consult and cooperate with Tribes and indigenous communities on all aspects of Federal climate preparedness and resilience efforts, and encourage states and local communities to do the same.

EPA Financing Green Infrastructure: A Best Practices Guide for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund

Since 1988, EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) has established itself as an important source of affordable funding for infrastructure projects that improve and maintain the quality of our nation’s waters. Each of the 51 programs operating independently across the United States and Puerto Rico demonstrate the power of federal and state partnerships to leverage financial resources in the interest of building sustainable infrastructure and protecting public health and water quality. There is no single prescription for accomplishing these goals; infrastructure solutions must be tailored to meet the environmental and economic needs of individual communities. States have significant flexibility within the CWSRF to establish their own funding priorities, assist communities of all sizes, and address a wide range of water quality concerns.

This best practices guide illustrates a variety of incentives states use to encourage consideration and implementation of green infrastructure and foster sustainability within their programs. Some of the incentives and examples featured in the guide are not specific to green infrastructure, but could easily be adapted to focus on green infrastructure implementation. Likewise, many of the practices that are specific to green infrastructure can also be applied to other sustainable projects such as water and energy efficiency. State programs have used the practices in this guide with great success. EPA is pleased to highlight these efforts in the hope that other interested programs can follow their example.

Water Evaluation and Planning System (WEAP)

Tool Overview: 

The Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) System is a software tool designed to help users with integrated water resources planning. WEAP uses a GIS-based interactive platform to allow high user customization, and helps users generate, integrate, and analyze watershed-specific information related to water supply, demand, and quality, as well as ecological information.

U.S. Drought Portal

Tool Overview: 

The U.S. Drought Portal is an online portal that connects users to a variety of drought-, hydrological-, climate- and climate impact-related tools, products, regional programs, and resources. User-friendly and accessible products include current drought and climate monitoring platforms (e.g., the U.S. Drought Monitor), drought impact reporting and monitoring databases (e.g., the Drought Impacts Reporter), and forecasts related to drought and other climatological conditions.

Storm Water Management Model Climate Adjustment Tool (SWMM-CAT)

Tool Overview: 

SWMM-CAT allows users to evaluate climate change impacts on stormwater runoff volume and quality, and to explore how the application of various low-impact development (LID) options can be used to alter these hydrological parameters. SWMM provides a spatial and temporal analysis of runoff quality and quantity by dividing basins into multiple sub-catchment areas and analyzing runoff at different time steps.

Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN)

Tool Overview: 

The Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN) is a network of monitoring sites established in agricultural and other areas across the United States. Soil moisture, soil temperature, precipitation, wind, and soil radiation data from these sites is collected, compiled, and presented via the online SCAN mapping tool. Using the mapping tool, users can access and explore real-time and recorded hydrological and climatological trends taking place in various areas of the county.

National Stormwater Calculator

Tool Overview: 

The EPA Stormwater Calculator (SWC) is a desktop tool that can be used by individuals looking to reduce stormwater runoff at the local level. The SWC generates rainfall runoff volume and frequency estimates for any location in the United States or Puerto Rico using historic rainfall data, local soil properties, and land use cover inputs. Users can manipulate the land use category and evaluate how seven different green infrastructure methods can alter runoff volume and frequency on their property.

Low Impact Development (LID) Atlas

Location

SC
United States
33° 50' 2.112" N, 80° 30' 28.1268" W
South Carolina US
Tool Overview: 

The atlas serves as an information sharing tool for communities and organizations interested in implementing low-impact development projects and addressing stormwater and growth-related issues that impact water quality. The tool allows user to enter data regarding existing low-impact development projects. These projects are displayed on a regional map that shows existing projects and provides information about the project type (e.g., swale/bioswale, permeable pavement, water conservation), location, land use type, construction date, and links to additional information about the project.

Inundation Analysis Tool

Tool Overview: 

The Inundation Analysis Tool is a web-based tool that analyzes how frequently and for how long high tide events have historically occurred, allowing users to better understand saltwater inundation and flooding trends for certain elevations and locations. Users select the site (must be a NOAA CO-OPS tide station), time period of interest, and the elevation for inundation pattern analysis (e.g., mean high water, mean tide level).