Massachusetts Power Grid Vulnerable to Climate Impacts

CLF petitions state to require infrastructure updates

transmission lines

Photo: Aryut Tantisoontornchai/Shutterstock

March 1, 2021 (BOSTON, MA) – Higher temperatures, rising seas, and more frequent, intense storms are threatening the safety and reliability of Massachusetts’ power grid and other utilities. Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) has filed a petition with the state’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) requesting that the agency require water, gas, and electric utilities to consider the impacts of extreme weather and sea-level rise on their infrastructure and service delivery, assess their current and future vulnerabilities, and develop plans to mitigate those risks.

“The tragedy in Texas is just the latest example of the climate crisis threatening critical infrastructure and endangering lives,” said Deanna Moran, Director of Environmental Planning at CLF. “To protect the public from these catastrophic impacts, investor-owned utilities must prepare for extreme temperatures, extreme precipitation, storms, and sea-level rise now. Taking the right steps now will avoid disaster down the road.”

Climate impacts like flooding, heat, and extreme storms will put any power infrastructure located in vulnerable areas at risk which jeopardizes reliable service for thousands of Massachusetts residents. Rising temperatures will disproportionately impact Black and Brown communities since heat island effects will hit urban neighborhoods and the people living there the hardest.

The petition calls on DPU to mandate that utilities undertake climate vulnerability planning and take steps to adapt to climate risks. The department, the Commonwealth’s primary regulator of the state’s investor-owned utilities, is in charge of ensuring safe, reliable service and has general supervision authority over public safety. 

To read CLF’s petition, please click here.

CLF experts are available for further comment.