RISA team partners with electric utility in Southwest to assess climate risks and opportunities

RISA team partners with electric utility in Southwest to assess climate risks and opportunities

Climate risks pose a particular set of challenges to electrical utilities, who must manage the direct impacts of climate and weather, in addition to considering how related effects might propagate through networks of interconnected social and environmental risks. In a paper published in Climate Risk Management, researchers from the University of Arizona and the Climate Assessment for the Southwest, a CPO RISA (Regional Integrated Sciences and Asessments) team, present a case study example of climate services co-produced with Tucson Electric Power, a regional electric utility. The approach integrates and adapts a climate risk management framework to better connect university climate expertise with utility needs for climate risk management and planning. The authors detail the process by which the project team partnered with Tuscon Electric Power to identify primary areas of concern for the electrical utility sector in the Southwest and craft a qualitative assessment of these climate risks. They describe the iterative engagement process where operational implications associated with climate risks were identified as part of the integrated resource planning process, and the cascading impacts that play a part in the larger decision context. They emphasize the role of novel analyses and curated data and information in the development of tailored climate services, as well as the importance of cultivating collaborative relationships between university researchers and community stakeholders and practitioners. This helps to better include stakeholder and practitioner values, perspectives, and insights in the research process.

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Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather.