Climate Change and the Energy Sector: DOE Guide for Climate Change Resilience Planning

From the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), this report examines the current and potential future impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the U.S. energy sector. The report provides step-wise guidance to building a vulnerability assessment framework and a subsequent resilience plan for electric utility assets and operations. The guide highlights a number of available tools, projections, sample metrics, and completed assessments to support planners in identifying risks, evaluating options, and developing effective plans.

The DOE suggests that this guide can assist those involved in making investment decisions, managing risks, ensuring power reliability, administering sustainability plans, or developing infrastructure or operations plans at electric utilities. This document may also be useful to governing bodies that oversee electricity operations, and other stakeholders involved in climate change resilience planning.

By completing the key steps in the guide, utilities can develop plans that identify specific actions for managing and mitigating climate change risks. The key analytical steps to developing a resilience plan as described here by the DOE each correspond to a chapter in the guide:

1. Scope the resilience plan

2. Develop inputs for vulnerability assessment

3. Determine exposure of assets and operations

4. Estimate the consequences of climate change impacts

5. Assess vulnerabilities

6. Identify and assess resilience measures

7. Build a portfolio of resilience measures

8. Monitor, evaluate, and reassess the resilience plan

Each chapter is extremely comprehensive, providing details on managing the relevant key step as well as other useful external resources, software tools, case studies, and more. The first step is to establish the scope of the resilience planning effort by identifying the relevant needs, goals, capabilities and constraints, and stakeholders of the planning process. Steps 2, 3, 4, and 5 of this framework incorporate analytical components that relate to a vulnerability assessment. The chapter on Step 4 - Estimating consequences of climate impacts, includes an overview of direct, indirect, and induced costs of impacts.

The assessment process aims to help utilities determine how their systems may be vulnerable to climate change impacts such as higher temperatures, sea level rise, changing precipitation patterns, and more frequent and severe extreme weather events.

Sections 6 and 7 describe the resilience planning process and how to incorporate climate change projections into an action plan for utilities. The resilience plan depends on information assembled during the vulnerability assessment process, including the probabilities of adverse climate events, threshold conditions likely to affect important assets or overall system performance, and the consequences or costs of climate impacts. The report discusses a range of resilience measures to include in the plan - and provides guidance on identifying these resilience options, and determining the costs and impacts of each.  

Section 6.4 - Determining Costs of Resilience Measures - uses a screened list of potential resilience measures and provides a summary of available cost information including a range of costs for different example measures, largely drawing on DOE sources.

Case studies are included that highlight how energy utilities successfully applied each of the 8 steps, such as studies on:

  • PG&E Service Interruption Costs in San Francisco Bay Area Storm Study
  • Using Cost-Benefit Ratio to Compare Potential Resilience Measures
  • Southern California Edison’s Adaptation Planning Tool
  • Exelon Models River Flow Impacts on Braidwood Power Station
  • San Diego Gas & Electric Works with Partners to Develop Wildfire Threat Index

This document is one component of the DOE response to Executive Order (EO) 13653, Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change, which instructs agencies to provide information, data, and tools that local, state, and private-sector leaders can use to improve preparedness and resilience in critical systems - including energy systems.


In order to maintain access to this website, we are linking to an archived version of the website saved on January 27, 2017. The original link can be found here:




Publication Date: September 2016

Related Organizations:

  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice
  • Case study
  • Planning guides


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