Why capital markets are continuing to finance utilities facing rising flood and other climate change impacts

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This article is part of a series on the way the utility and waste and recycling industries are accounting for climate change.

Many nuclear and fossil fuel power plants in the U.S. are intentionally sited near a body of water to provide access for various cooling processes while much electrical infrastructure remains above ground, according to the Energy Information Administration. The location of these assets makes them vulnerable to the intensifying impacts of the storms, hurricanes and flooding that have occurred with rising frequency over the past two decades, experts say. 
On the Gulf Coast, for instance, companies need to expect what was previously a once-in-100 year severe rain event to now happen once every three years, per an analyst at global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
“The probability of the extreme weather events has increased quite markedly,” said Matt Rogers, senior partner at McKinsey.

Within voluntary filings for the CDP, 13 out of 18 U.S. utility respondents examined by Utility Dive identified a physical risk of extreme weather events such as “floods or cyclones.” When estimating the cost of these increasing storms, some utilities tried using recent storm damage as a benchmark for what could be expected: multiplying the …

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