CEE Student Laurel Dunn Publishes Article on Climate Change and the Electrical Grid


In recent weeks, Californians have faced a confluence of natural threats: wild fires, unseasonable lightning strikes, extreme heat and diminishing water supplies. PhD students Laurel Dunn (CEE) and Anna Brockway (ERG), and Steve Weissman (GSPP), published an article in the San Francisco Chronicle commenting on the ensuing power shortages, and what actions must be taken to better address the impacts of climate change on the electrical grid.

Typically, electrical grid operators look at historical weather patterns and operating conditions to understand how climate affects electricity demand. However, with more record-setting events each year, we must begin to consider a range of possible circumstances, and the implications of making the wrong decisions. Further, grid operators must understand how separate climate trends can build upon one another, thereby challenging the reliability and safety of our electricity system. 

The authors outline steps that California can take to reimagine the electric grid, including close coordination between decision-makers, planning and research in pursuit of effective climate adaptation, sustained funding to help generate new knowledge, and wide distribution of such knowledge. Such initiates would encourage optimal preparedness for future events, and place California among the nation's leaders in climate adaptation.

In addition to their article for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dunn and Brockway are also co-authors on the forthcoming journal paper, Weathering Adaptation: Grid Infrastructure Planning in a Changing Climate, accepted in Climate Risk Management. 

Published 08/28/2020