With record high temperatures and wildfires gripping the West, utilities have asked residents to cut down on power usage to reduce the strain on overburdened systems. As we’ve seen following countless crises, the U.S. energy grid is being pushed to its limits.
Fortunately, a $1 trillion infrastructure bill is on the horizon, and with it, a significant opportunity to safeguard critical public assets across the U.S. While the country has countless infrastructure needs, few are as critical as those focused on improving the nation’s resilience in the face of impending climate change. This includes making the grid safer, less vulnerable to catastrophic climate events, and less likely to cause damage to constituents and the economy. Last year’s record-breaking fire season put this into stark perspective, with the state of California alone incurring damages between $130 billion and $150 billion.
The funds earmarked for resiliency efforts within the infrastructure bill can reduce the likelihood of these devasting events as well as the magnitude of their impact. However, the true challenge will be prioritizing the budget to address a vast number of critical needs. The creation of a comprehensive “Resiliency Index” will be key in the effort to strengthen the energy grid, allowing operators to focus on the tools and technologies that will make an immediate difference and establish a clear plan of action that is both flexible and trackable.
Gregg Edeson is the utility reliability and resiliency lead at PA Consulting and the ReliabilityOne program director. Mike Sullivan is an energy and utilities expert at PA Consulting.