Potential Impacts and Adaptation Options for the Electricity System from Sea Level Rise in the San Diego Area.

Evaluating adaptation options to protect the electricity system from climate threats.

ICF Incorporated, L.L.C.


Fairfax, VA

Recipient Location



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

Working closely with SDG&E, the research team first collected information on specific infrastructure assets and operations, and identified potential climate impacts. The climate impact vulnerabilities of the electricity system were then identified and discussed with the utilities. A matrix of assets and electricity service categories was developed in 2016. The research team collected information on electricity system adaptation measures and presented them to the utilities at a series of workshops to obtain feedback in summer and fall of 2017. The utilities are already using some of the results from this study for adaptation planning.

The Issue

Sea-level rise (SLR) presents a critical threat to California's low-lying coastal areas and the energy infrastructure located there. The reliability of California's electricity service could be threatened by either permanent inundation from SLR or temporary coastal flooding events that cause disruptions to generation, transmission, and distribution.

Project Innovation

The project evaluated SLR vulnerability and adaptation options in the SDG&E service area at a level of detail appropriate for informing electricity sector policy and planning. ICF International partnered with SDG&E to conduct a detailed and robust sea level rise vulnerability assessment and to identify and evaluate appropriate adaptation measures. This project identified adaptation measures for the electrical system that are actionable and aligned with existing policies, based on a comprehensive understanding of the vulnerabilities of specific assets, how these combine at a system level, and significant feedback from the utilities. The results were formed with significant input from the IOU to ensure the adaptation measures are actionable.

Project Benefits

Detailed SLR inundation modeling that builds on previous studies is used to identify the SDG&E infrastructure that will be exposed to coastal flooding and assess how the electricity system could be affected. Impacts of coastal inundation and possible adaptation measures are determined using literature reviews, interviews with key experts, modeling, and workshop elicitation. Potential direct and indirect impacts are used at an asset-by-asset level and through system-wide assessment, including power flow modeling to support a "value of lost load" analysis. This level of information was not previously available to SDG&E for use in its planning.

Greater Reliability


This study will improve electricity reliability by decreasing the chances of SLR damage to grid infrastructure. The project identified the greatest potential direct physical impacts to assets are damage to substations in the Miss

Key Project Members

Project Member

Andrew Petrow


Contact the Team