Adapting for Tomorrow: Powering a Resilient Future
Every part of the world is experiencing the effects of climate change, which continues to impact people, the environment and the economy with only more severe effects anticipated.
SCE’s recent Climate Adaptation Vulnerability Assessment (CAVA) filed with the California Public Utilities Commission — the first by a California investor-owned utility — evaluated climate impacts to utility assets, operations and services. Through global climate model (GCM) projections, CAVA studied exposure, vulnerabilities and adaptations from hazards including temperature, precipitation, flood, drought, wildfire and sea level rise.
Adapting for Tomorrow: Powering a Resilient Future shares key findings from the CAVA and calls for increased collaboration among industry, governments and communities to successfully adapt while transitioning to a clean energy future that can be equitable for all.
Key Findings Demand Urgent Action:
- The cost to invest in climate adaptation now is far less than the cost of inaction — both for the economy and public health and safety.
- As society decarbonizes in a changing climate, we need modernized planning for the grid to power communities in an uncertain future.
- Given the interdependencies of critical infrastructure, it takes all of us working together to confront the climate crisis.
2050 Climate Exposure Trends and Potential Impacts on the Electrical System
5°F projected increase relative to historical averages
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IMPACTS
- Existing infrastructure will become less efficient, especially inland, resulting in reduced capacity on lines and higher losses in transformers
- Useful life of assets will decrease due to increased exposure and usage
7X more likely, on average, for SCE service area to experience temperatures as hot as or hotter than the historical 99th percentile temperature
EXTREME HEAT IMPACTS
- Worker safety standards will need to account for heat
- Peak load could increase significantly
- Equipment will not cool overnight during intense heat waves, reducing capacity and useful life of some equipment
23% more land projected to burn during summer fuel-driven wildfires and wildfire season is expected to become longer
- Conditions may be more conducive to wildfire ignition and spread
- Impacted service centers may not be able to operate or perform key functions during wildfires or droughts
40% projected decline in snowpack and more variable year-to-year precipitation with more intense drought and fewer, more intense precipitation events
- Infrastructure will need to be designed to withstand more intense storm surges and flooding
- Hydroelectric energy generation could become less reliable if the current drought continues or in the event of future prolonged droughts
2.6 feet projected sea level rise relative to the year 2000
SEA LEVEL IMPACTS
- Infrastructure and communities in some coastal areas will be at higher risk of flooding
A range of high-impact, low-probability events can occur from the interaction between exposure variables such as post-fire mudslides (debris flow) and rain-on-snow events
CASCADING EVENTS IMPACTS
- Communities in or near high fire risk areas could be exposed to increased landslide risk
- Hydroelectric planners need to account for early snowmelt and extreme runoff
Note: All exposure projections reflect climate change under a “high emissions” scenario, or Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP), commonly referred to as RCP 8.5.