Lights Out? – Storm Surge, Blackouts, and How Clean Energy Can Help

Over 70 million coastal residents’ major electricity sources are exposed to flooding from hurricanes, nor’easters, or other severe storms. The increasing threat of climate-related sea level rise and storm surges to electricity infrastructure is cause for serious concern and action.


This report by the Union of Concerned Scientists looks at innovative options to ensure reliable access to electricity during coastal flooding by adapting mechanisms for new and existing electricity infrastructure.


Recommendations and insights in protecting electrical infrastructure:

Protecting Our Electric Grid Requires Foresight

  • Regulators must take immediate action to protect electricity infrastructure from coastal flooding.
  • Incorporate the evolving context of climate impacts over the lifetime of investment decisions.
  • Local decision-makers should partner with large organizations like FEMA to initiate long term adaption plans.

Increasing the Electricity Resilience of Communities

  • Move beyond the current focus on protecting the centralized grid.
  • Support communities through the strategic deployment of distributed, resilient power resources.
  • Regulators must enable cost recovery for utilities’ prudent investments in resilience.
  • Federal and state agencies must provide dedicated support to vulnerable populations.

Adopting Strong Policies to Reduce Carbon Emissions

  • Direct all action to de-carbonize the electricity sector to limit the severity of long-term climate impacts.
  • Develop a strong step-by-step plan the supports adaptation approaches with measurable milestones.

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