LTE: Utilities need to report ‘true risks’ of climate change

The following letter to the editor was published in the Times Union on November 5, 2020 and was written by Rachel Patterson, our Legislative & Climate Associate.

To the editor,

I was encouraged to see the Times Union report that “everyone knows that climate change is coming with a cost” in the article “Adding cost of climate change,” Oct. 22. Climate change does come with a large price tag, and New Yorkers are already paying the price. We have seen so far this year that more than 75,000 New Yorkers have been left in darkness for days as utilities failed to provide service to customers in the aftermath of severe storms. New York will continue to be unprepared for severe weather if industries are not made to account for the true costs and impacts of climate change.

The Public Service Commission’s proceeding regarding the need for reporting risks related to climate change is exactly the direction the state needs to be headed. With the passage of sweeping climate legislation last year, the state established itself as a national leader in the fight against climate change by setting the most aggressive emissions reduction and renewable energy targets of any state. This will transform all sectors of the economy, and utility companies are no exception.

Achieving the emissions reduction goals will require an honest look at how current practices continue to put New Yorkers at risk by contributing to climate change. By getting utility companies to recognize and report the true risks of climate change, we will be able to see just how harmful a business-as-usual approach is for New Yorkers.

Rachel Patterson
Legislative & Climate Associate
Environmental Advocates NY