The US Government Accounting Office (GAO) released a report in January that calls into question the way energy companies are preparing, or not preparing, to deal with the many different aspects of climate change.
Multiple and often compounding effects of climate change are likely to threaten U.S. energy infrastructure, the GAO report suggests. There are a number of different effects listed that, when added together, are already creating problems for energy production and distribution companies. Warming trends are likely to wreak havoc on the U.S. electricity industry by driving up demand in spiky ways varying from season to season while water shortages in some regions will create problems for cooling electric power generators, reducing electricity supply while increasing consumers’ demand for electricity, the GAO said. (GAO report link).
The report also sees a rough road ahead for other parts of the economy linked to energy from weather-related events–including floods, droughts, and storms.
Climate News followed the report with a more detailed look at industry perspectives. The report is based on US data, but most of the world’s energy production facilities and resource hubs are located in coastal areas, or areas that will be greatly affected by climate changes, so this is obviously a global set of issues to consider.
Reuters is reporting that New York’s infrastructure funding gap amounts to almost $90 billion. The state’s comptroller has reviewed spending and the aftermath of hurricane Sandy and found that New York’s cities and counties need to spend $250 billion on water, sewer and highway systems over the next 20 years to maintain transportation, water, waste and other infrastructural systems. Currently some $161 billion in spending is planned.
This follows news that Texas and Colorado are trying to change their tax structures and limits in order to fund long term, multi-billion dollar funding for everything from education to highway and bridge repairs. News reports from the end of 2012 also seem to point to growing difficulties with planning and managing multi-year (and multi-budget year) projects.
Ironically, on the federal level, funding for major road and transportation projects is on a continuing downward slide due to something very different from what most people expect. It’s not the economy– it’s efficiency that is causing a funding problem.
The amount of money collected by the U.S. federal 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax is used to fund transportation projects across all 50 states. But gas tax revenues will continue to decline because cars are getting more efficient. As new technologies, designs, and congressionally mandated rules for auto manufacturing creates more gas efficient cars the total amount of gas taxes collected has stayed constant or declined. (The recession also played havoc with this funding when fewer people were driving to work, on vacations, and companies took steps to reduce their transportation costs.)
According to new poll conducted by Clarus Research Group on behalf of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers 77 percent of American citizens are in favor of “rebuilding” or “modernization” infrastructure in the U.S..
The money for funding those improvements will have to come from somewhere.
Michael L. Ducker, President at FedEx Express, has written a serious and sobering look at global infrastructure needs and spending trends in the recent Forbes Magazine CIO Insight.