Con Edison completed our Climate Change Vulnerability Study on schedule in December 2019. We leveraged the latest available climate science data to identify vulnerabilities from climate change impacts on our present-day infrastructure, design specifications, and procedures. As a result, we better understand our options to address potential future impacts on our energy delivery systems. The company’s electric, gas and steam systems are all potentially subject to increased flooding from coastal storms, while the electric system may also be challenged during increasing periods of sustained heat and wind.
The 36-month study, authorized by the New York State Public Service Commission as part of a collaborative created after Superstorm Sandy, describes historical and projected climate changes across Con Edison’s service area in New York City and Westchester County. While climate change’s exact pace, effects and impacts are uncertain, the study provides a strong foundation upon which to plan, design, and invest in our energy delivery systems.
To account for climate uncertainty, the study considered a range of potential climate futures reflecting unabated carbon emissions (where global warming exceeds 4 degrees Celsius by the year 2100), reduced greenhouse gas concentrations (warming slightly exceeds 2 degrees Celsius) and extreme “stress test” scenarios.
The analysis identified the following most significant climate-driven risks to Con Edison’s systems:
- Sea level rise
- Coastal storm surge
- Inland flooding from intense rainfall
- Hurricane-strength winds
- Extreme heat
While Con Edison already uses a range of measures to build resilience to weather events, the vulnerabilities the study identifies will guide the company’s future strategy to strengthen its reliability and resilience against increasingly severe weather.
Con Edison typically invests approximately $3 billion every year on our energy infrastructure and since Superstorm Sandy the company has invested an additional $1.1 billion in resiliency and climate change protections. The report estimates the company may need to invest between $1.8 billion and $5.2 billion by 2050 on targeted programs to protect our electric systems against rising temperatures, humidity and sea level. Con Edison will further evaluate future adaptation strategies and associated costs through the development of 5-, 10- and 20-year plans.
As a next step from the study, Con Edison will develop a detailed Climate Change Implementation Plan by the end of 2020. The implementation plan will consider updates in climate science; finalize an initial climate design pathway; integrate that pathway into company specifications and processes based on input from subject matter experts; consider climate change influenced actions for near and long term reliability and resiliency measures; develop signposts to monitor climate science and the rate of climate change; and enable a viable governance model. Similar to this study, the company will continue to engage stakeholders in the development of the plan.
For more information please visit conEd.com/resilience.