Informing Con Edison’s climate resilience and adaptation plan

Informing Con Edison’s climate resilience and adaptation plan
Jan 27, 2021
Con Edison is changing how it plans and designs its energy delivery systems to be more resilient against climate-related events—and we’re helping to shape the journey

Extreme heat waves, damaging floods exacerbated by sea level rise, and devastating wildfires. Utilities increasingly face these low-probability, high-impact challenges and the impacts from spikes in energy consumption and service disruptions. With our help, Con Edison is changing how it plans and designs its energy delivery systems to be more resilient against the intensifying effects of these climate-related events. 

In its industry-leading “Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation: Summary of 2020 Activities report, Con Edison details its forward-looking approach to incorporating climate change into its planning, design, operations, and emergency response. 

“By establishing a clear pathway of anticipated change and integrating forward-looking climate information into core aspects of its business, Con Edison has the right foundation to manage risks from a changing climate.” — Anne Choate, senior vice president and head of ICF’s Energy, Environment, and Infrastructure operating group

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We’re proud to have played a role in the advancement of this new way of thinking. We led the integration of climate science with energy system planning and investment processes. Facilitated stakeholder engagement with 50+ municipal and state officials, consumer advocates, environmental groups, and client experts. Provided governance benchmarking. All these efforts informed the development of Con Edison’s climate change implementation plan and internal adaptation planning and design guidelines.

”We compiled local sea-level rise projections across a range of climate change scenarios for Con Edison. We then interpreted several underlying considerations to develop a recommended approach for changing Con Edison’s flood design standard, including the state of the science, local benchmarking, system sensitivity, co-benefits, and the company’s past approach to considering sea-level rise in design," explains our climate resilience expert Brenda Dix. Brenda has been evaluating the physical impacts of climate change and extreme weather on infrastructure systems and developing comprehensive adaptation plans for the last decade, and knows firsthand how this work helps utilities and their communities.

As a result, Con Edison’s updated flood-design standard requires that new facilities are designed to be resilient to sea-level rise for as long as they are expected to be in operation. For example, facilities built for 80 years of operation must be able to accommodate an additional three feet of sea level rise.

“Armed with this adaptive and proactive plan, Con Edison can make better investment decisions, protect its assets and workers, and support the resilience of its customers. We are proud to partner with them to set a new standard for climate resilience not only in New York, but across the country.” — Anne Choate

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