Tribal Energy Systems Vulnerability to Climate Change and Extreme Weather

This report from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Indian Energy assesses climate change and extreme weather impacts on tribal energy infrastructure and systems in the U.S. It includes information about the impacts from climate change and extreme weather events on both onsite and offsite tribally owned and non-tribally owned energy infrastructure. 

The key climate change and extreme weather hazards affecting energy systems are examined in detail by region. Alaska Native Villages, and Northwest, Southwest, Great Plains, Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast Tribal Lands are each dedicated a section in the report - providing information on climate impacts occurring and projected in regard to energy production for each region.  

Vulnerabilities to tribal energy infrastructure vary significantly by region. For example, tribes on the East and Gulf Coasts may see a greater likelihood of power outages from more intense (e.g., Category 4 and 5) hurricanes, while tribes in the western U.S. may see a greater likelihood of energy supply disruption from more intense and frequent droughts and wildfires (USGCRP 2014). Meanwhile, tribes in parts of northern and central Alaska are vulnerable to permafrost thaw and accelerated erosion.

The report explains that tribal trust lands and Alaska Native villages are already facing challenges to the reliable delivery of affordable energy posed by climate change and extreme weather. While tribal energy infrastructure is designed to function under a range of weather conditions, these types of events have the potential to significantly impact tribal communities by damaging critical energy components and forcing the present energy systems to operate outside of their designed range.

 

 

Publication Date: September 2015

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