WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report illustrating the far-reaching, costly effects that climate change is expected to have on the U.S. electricity sector. The report recommends that the federal government prioritize investments in climate-resilient electricity infrastructure.
Frank Rusco, Director of Natural Resources and Environment at GAO will testify on the report at an EPW hearing this morning, which can be viewed here.
“This report makes it clear—failing to meet the demands of a changing climate in our power sector will mean increased power outages and higher costs for the American people,” said Senator Carper. “We can look to the recent events in Texas as an example of what happens when an electric grid isn’t prepared for extreme weather. Every source of energy succumbed to freezing temperatures, leaving millions in the cold without heat or running water for days. Lives and livelihoods were sadly lost. The disaster is likely to cost Texans an estimated $90 billion to fully recover from the economic damages. Now, consumers are largely stuck footing the bill from the crisis.
“Extreme weather events like this are being fueled by climate change—meaning they are becoming more frequent and severe. Leaving millions of people vulnerable to extreme weather can’t be our new normal. We need to heed this report’s urgency and build back a better electricity sector that is more resilient, safer, and cleaner for our health and our climate. Texas is a reminder that Americans are already paying the true costs of climate change. We cannot afford further inaction.”
The report can be found here.
GAO completed this report at the request of Senator Carper and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va). The report concluded that climate change poses risks to nearly every aspect of the electricity grid—from generation, transmission, and distribution to demand, especially during extreme weather. It also confirmed that more frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events will likely cost utilities and customers billions, including the costs of power outages and infrastructure damage. As part of its recommendations, GAO specifically called for the Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to take additional action that enhances grid resilience to climate change.