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(Image courtesy of the New York Power Authority)
(Image courtesy of the New York Power Authority)

New York Power Authority launches first study to assess potential impact of climate change on its operations


Mon, Aug 9th 2021 01:05 pm

Argonne National Laboratory to use advanced climate models to research how extreme weather may affect NYPA’s power generation and transmission assets, help inform resilience strategies

√ Effort to benefit from climate science expertise of Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy

The New York Power Authority will study the long-term effects of climate change on its physical power generation and transmission assets and system operations. The research, in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy science and engineering research center, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), aims to inform NYPA’s risk and expenditure planning and strengthen its resilience against all hazards, including major weather events. The study will be conducted by Argonne, known as a world leader in creating hyperlocal climate model simulation datasets and as having most detailed climate projections available in the U.S.

For this study, an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers will use state-of-the-art climate and infrastructure system modeling techniques, and one of the world’s fastest supercomputers, to determine the risks an ever-changing climate may pose to NYPA’s infrastructure and operating systems.

“It’s imperative that NYPA assess the vulnerability and sensitivity of its generation and transmission systems to climate-driven risks such as increased flooding and extreme temperatures so we can prepare to stand up to these hazards and make smart investments in resiliency strategies,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “The results of this climate analysis will improve our ability to address the risks associated with climate change and inform our strategies and investments in the coming years so that we can continue to ensure a reliable, resilient and affordable electricity system across New York state.”

Preparing for climate-related risks is an important part of NYPA’s vision of fostering a thriving, resilient New York state powered by clean energy. NYPA produces 25% of New York’s power and more than 80% of that quarter is clean, renewable hydropower. Understanding how to better plan for and harden assets will enable NYPA to continue to make smart investments that support the power grid for the benefit of all New Yorkers.

Researchers will identify and quantify the potential impacts of climate change on NYPA’s critical facilities, assets and equipment, and produce a systemwide assessment of location-specific climate risks overlaid onto NYPA’s energy system infrastructure. Argonne’s experts will also develop a climate resiliency plan that will inform how NYPA mitigates any climate-related potential risks. The study’s planned simulations will use three different global climate models and two different greenhouse gas emission scenarios, which are designed to capture much of the modeling and planning uncertainties associated with climate change projections. Study results are expected in the spring.

The analysis is part of a multiyear sustainability plan outlining steps NYPA needs to take to enhance its long-term environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance across the authority. The study is the first phase of a four-year climate adaptation and resilience assessment. A second phase in 2023 will assess the social and economic impacts of climate change on NYPA’s customers, communities and other stakeholders, and identify strategies to support regional and community adaptation and resilience planning efforts.

Like other power utilities, NYPA faces increasing risks that may be attributable to the current and forecasted future consequences of climate change, which can adversely affect physical infrastructure assets and facilities, system operations, capital improvement planning, workforce and external stakeholders. To better prepare and plan for these consequences, NYPA as a power system infrastructure owner and operator will conduct quantitative climate-informed risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities. The study will also inform the appropriate design and operational standards and specifications of NYPA’s customer solutions projects such as energy efficiency, solar, storage and electric vehicle charging stations.

In the early stages of this project, CGEP will provide input on the proposed approach from Argonne National Laboratory for applying climate and energy infrastructure models in the research. In this part of the process, CGEP will contribute its expertise in integrating global energy systems and climate models. CGEP will also contribute expertise in scenario design for energy systems analysis under uncertainty during the modeling planning phase. After the initial analysis is complete, CGEP will serve on the results review panel, providing feedback on the outputs, insights, and any corresponding recommendations.

“Understanding the impacts of the changing climate on our infrastructure is key to ensuring that our energy systems are both reliable and resilient, protecting the health of our communities,” said Jason Bordoff, founding director of CGEP and co-founding dean of the Columbia Climate School. “We are delighted to provide input and feedback as a part of this process that will help NYPA to understand key risks and effectively plan for the future.”

EPRI President and CEO Arshad Mansoor said, “Meeting critical demand in an increasingly electrified economy means understanding and mitigating the impacts of severe weather on the energy system. By using modeling to link climate-related threats to energy system vulnerabilities, we can better evaluate measures that enhance resilience. We look forward to helping strengthen grid resilience through this important project.”

Read more about NYPA’s VISION2030 strategy and sustainability plans.

NYPA is the largest state public power organization in the nation, operating 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. For more information, visit www.nypa.gov.

The Electric Power Research Institute Inc. (EPRI, www.epri.com) conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public.

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