Wednesday, April 22, 2015

White House: Upgrade Grid to Withstand Climate Change

A natural gas pipeline construction project in Michigan. (Credit: Consumers Energy/flickr) Click to Enlarge.
A new Obama administration report published Tuesday calls for billions of dollars of major investments in the nation’s energy system over the next decade.  All the pipelines, power lines, railways and the other infrastructure that bring Americans the energy they use each day will have to be modernized in the face of climate change and a renaissance in renewable energy, it says.

The report, the first Quadrennial Energy Review, is part of the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan and a four-year guide to modernizing and upgrading the nation’s vast energy system.  The rapidly aging system needs a major upgrade in the face of global warming and the need to integrate renewables into the power grid.
The plan makes many recommendations, including a call for the DOE to establish new ways of analyzing how well energy infrastructure can withstand extreme weather and for the department to establish a $3-5 billion program to help states find innovative ways to shore up the electric grid so that it can withstand major storms and flooding.

But preventing gas leaks and making sure the lights can stay on when another Hurricane Sandy or Katrina barrels toward the coast are only first steps.  Ensuring that the electric power grid can accommodate new technology is critical, too.

The White House is proposing a $3.5 billion program to create the “smart grid of the future,” which would be able to integrate renewables into the larger electric power system.

“Innovative technologies and services are being introduced to the system at an unprecedented rate — often increasing efficiency, improving reliability, and empowering customers, but also injecting uncertainty into grid operations, traditional regulatory structures, and utility business models,” the review says.  “Modernizing the grid will require that these challenges be addressed.”

The White House is also calling on the DOE to spend up to $3.5 billion over the next decade to assist states in replacing leaky natural gas pipes and spend another $10 million on re-working the way the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency quantifies greenhouse gas emissions to include leaking methane from natural gas pipelines.

Read more at White House: Upgrade Grid to Withstand Climate Change

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