How climate change affects Wisconsin will also impact how Wisconsin will get its energy – from the infrastructure, to the sources it is produced from, and locations energy will be generated and stored, to the efficient use of energy in buildings, transportation, and communities.
With the impacts and risks from climate change predicted to cause more frequent power outages to our current energy grid, businesses will have to shut down and the health and lives of Wisconsin residents will be endangered, especially the most vulnerable (including the elderly, youth, low income and black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities). Given that energy underpins almost every sector of our economy, the reliability and resilience of our energy systems to power outages in severe weather events is vital to avoid loss of life as well as impacts to critical sectors and to economic stability.
The current rapid shift to an economy powered by efficiency and clean renewable energy will benefit both rural and urban communities, fuel job creation, improve human and environmental health, promote energy equity across economic and racial sectors, and support local self-reliance and national security. It will help communities be more resilient to severe weather events and safeguard people’s future from the worst of climate change.
Equity & Environmental Justice
People are not equally impacted by the effects of the changing climate. Understanding societal inequities and ways to identify and address them will lead to the whole community being more resilient. Inequities have been shown to be associated with poverty, age, race, gender, health, education, and social status. Identifying equitable policies and programs starts with having a diverse group of people discussing the problems and potential solutions. Consideration of how proposed resilience solutions may result in negative effects or even exclude part of the community will lead to solutions that make the entire community more resilient. Because equity is such a critically important topic, the authors of this menu suggest considering equity with each menu item.
There are many options for how we can become more energy resilient and also decrease emissions so as to not further perpetuate climate change. The most effective emissions reduction strategies related to energy include: improving the energy efficiency of building stock and infrastructure, electrifying buildings, installing local renewable power at building, community, and utility-scale, electrifying transportation, and capturing carbon. Resilience against power disruptions and failures can be achieved with distributed solar plus storage and microgrids. By pairing local renewable energy with storage such as solar PV plus batteries or fuel cells at community centers (schools, libraries, etc) and for critical infrastructure (police and fire stations, communications centers, wastewater treatment plants), communities can retain core function in power outages. With microgrids that connect a number of buildings, a campus, or a neighborhood with a variety of energy generation and storage technologies, buildings can be islanded and powered independently of the grid. Of course, this may be a large task for many communities. That is why there are other options and solutions with varying levels of costs and effort in this menu.
The Energy Efficiency & Renewables Menu is laid out by four themes or subsections: assessment & planning, energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, and energy resilience. Also included are general strategies, case studies, and examples that can be used to help make your community more resilient to current and future climate change impacts.
Each Menu has a definition or explanation and a series of strategies organized in a menu format (i.e., Equity & Environmental Justice, Education & Information, Low-Cost Strategies, Significant Resource Deployment, Celebrating Successes, and Grants & Funding) where links and resources (e.g., additional information, examples, case studies, best practices) are provided. Revisit the menu format.