Risky Business Project Engages U.S. Utility Officials on Risks of Climate Change

Executive Director Kate Gordon leads NARUC panel on risks of extreme weather events; impacts to energy, other vital services

Washington, DC – Next Generation Vice President and Risky Business Executive Director Kate Gordon today prodded an assembly of utility managers to consider the risks of climate change in their long-range planning, during a panel discussion on climate risks at the annual Winter Committee Meetings of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).

The panel discussion, “Risky Business: Harnessing Industry Expertise to Assess and Respond to Severe Weather Risks,” was a part of the program for NARUC’s Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment and was designed to help utility managers gauge the appropriate response to a variety of extreme weather risks, including those presented by climate change.

“Vital infrastructure across the U.S., from power grids to roads to water systems, could face serious risks from climate change in the coming decades,” said Gordon to the panel. “The utility sector will be right at the heart of our national conversation about how to respond to these risks.”

Gordon posed a series of questions for utilities to ponder: “Where should we build our water treatment facilities and pipelines for coastal communities? How will the grid handle surges in demand for cooling? How do we deliver sufficient water to our farms, businesses, and homes?”

The audience for the panel discussion included public service and public utility commissioners and chairs from across the United States; public and private utility officials; and policy advocates, academics, and researchers involved in water, energy, or other utility sectors. NARUC represents public utility commissions from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

NARUC’s focus on extreme weather risk, as well as its relationship to climate change, comes after the association’s website cited a recent report from the National Research Council warning that a changing climate will bring more sudden and severe challenges to infrastructure than previously believed. The committee meeting is also being held in light of this year’s prolonged low temperatures across the nation, which NARUC says have damaged water pipeline infrastructure and caused problems for transportation, electric and gas systems.

Launched in October, 2013, Risky Business (www.riskybusiness.org) is a year-long effort to quantify and publicize the economic risks the United States faces from the impacts of a changing climate.

The Risky Business initiative includes two core components:

An independent assessment of the economic risk of climate change in the United States, drawing on the best available scientific information, econometric research and modeling efforts. The results, to be released in the summer of 2014, will detail risks by region of the country and sector of the economy.

An engagement effort will target the communities most at risk from a changing climate, and begin the process of helping leaders from these communities prepare a measured response to the risks they face. The engagement will be led by a risk committee composed of top national and regional leaders from across the American economic and political spectrum.

Risky Business is a joint initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Office of Hank Paulson, and Next Generation. All three organizations are providing staff input to the project, and are supporting an independent economic analysis that will quantify the range of likely costs of climate-driven impacts and weather disasters. Additional support for Risky Business was provided by the Skoll Global Threats Fund. Next Generation’s VP of Energy and Climate, Kate Gordon, serves as the Executive Director of the initiative.


About Next Generation

Next Generation promotes solutions to two of the biggest challenges confronting the next generation of Americans:  The risk of dangerous climate change, and the threat of diminished prospects for children and families. Through the use of non-partisan research, policy development, and strategic communications, we identify strategies that help deploy clean, advanced energy technologies; we also work to ensure a level playing field from which today’s kids can build a brighter future.

Learn more at www.thenextgeneration.orgwww.facebook.com/thenextgeneration.org and on Twitter @nextgen_USA.

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