First-in-the-nation ruling requires New York's biggest utility to integrate climate science into all of its planning, construction and budget decisions.

By Maria Gallucci

New York regulators are requiring the state's biggest electric utility to armor the grid against all sorts of sweeping global warming impacts that could black out the nation's financial capital and disrupt services like cell phone networks and water and gasoline supplies.

The Feb. 20 ruling mandates Con Edison to carry out an immediate and comprehensive assessment of climate risks to its power grid, a lifeline of New York's economy. The utility must factor the data into all of its long-term planning, construction and budget decisions—and also use new flood maps that put much more of New York in vulnerable flood zones.

The ruling by the New York Public Service Commission is "a recognition that something has to be done to make the system withstand what appears to be the 'new normal,'" said Robert Thormeyer, a spokesman for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) who was not involved in the New York case. "They're taking a holistic approach to looking at how we can fit [climate change] into our everyday planning."

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