The Capital’s Case for Infrastructure & Water Resiliency - 2019 WAE Q1

— Vishant Kothari, AEG Fellow, with support from Isabella Suarez, AEG Fellow

Climate security plays a significant role in the U.S. capital’s resiliency planning, as Washington, D.C. faces a number of climatic challenges. Last year, the city petitioned a study from climate scientists to help stakeholders consider how climate change will impact the district in the coming decades. They assessed the city’s vulnerabilities, consulting climate projection data to understand potential changes in sea level, storm surge, and extreme weather. This includes a list of city assets — both physical, such as hospitals, and conceptual, such as the tourism economy — that are critical for people’s lives and the city’s livelihood and require protection. The latest National Climate Assessment reinforced these findings. As a result, Washington, D.C. stepped up to the sustainable energy challenge, recently passing a landmark bill - known as the Clean Energy Act - that requires all electricity in the district be generated by renewable sources by 2032. However, other climatic concerns still plague future planning. Climate scientists predict the district could experience extreme heat conditions in 2080 and an increased likelihood of flooding due to sea level rise. These issues threaten the city’s ability to holistically meet the ambitious clean energy goal. To complicate matters further, the district's population is expected to grow to nearly a million people by 2045 which would add considerable stress on D.C.’s resources and critical infrastructure.

Mayor Bowser's Climate Ready D.C. strategy under the Sustainable D.C. plan outlines several measures that businesses, residents, and government can take to decrease climate-related risk. The execution of Climate Ready D.C. is managed by the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). The latest progress report of Sustainable D.C. (April 2018) suggests impactful measures, such as Solar For All deploying solar infrastructure to serve 100,000 households by 2032, being taken. As part of the 100 Resilient Cities network, D.C. is currently preparing a comprehensive Resilience Strategy to build resilience to the aforementioned shocks and stresses the city faces. The Resilient D.C. work is led by a team within the Executive Office of the Mayor. During November 2018, Resilient D.C. conducted Open House forums to invite ideas from communities which would serve as input for the final strategy.

Along with the Mayor’s office and district agencies, the US Department of Energy (DOE) is also enabling resilient growth in infrastructure and energy using innovative technologies. In September 2018, the DOE made a new funding opportunity announcement that aims to ‘explore the use of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Technology to leverage the power of grid sensors. This builds on existing programs of the DOE such as Resilient Electric Distribution Grid R&D Program Plan, Smart Grid R&D Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP) and Microgrids R&D MYPP to advance grid modernization and support smarter, more resilient communities.

The city’s critical water infrastructure is also receiving significant attention, given the rampant issue of nuisance flooding. D.C. Water, the utility that delivers clean water and treats wastewater recently announced a new strategic plan that will restructure the company and realign its core values with the city’s larger resilience and sustainability goals. The “Blueprint, D.C. Water” hopes to better equip the city to meet future challenges, improve service to customers, and support One D.C. Water.  

As part of the aforementioned announcement of the Clean Energy Act and the awaited launch of Sustainable D.C. 2.0, resilience and energy infrastructure development can be expected. This would lead to an accelerated transition from fossil fuel-based energy and create jobs. The impact of this will be felt across sectors and industries, hence implementing the plan will mean having to bring diverse stakeholders together to align on a common actionable agenda to overcome short- and medium-term challenges. With the theme of Resilience, Critical Infrastructure and Microgrids, Advanced Energy Group’s 2019 Q1 event in Washington, D.C. will include a range of dynamic discussion leaders to highlight resiliency challenges and potential solutions.

Our Q1 discussion leaders include:  

  • Dan Ton, Program Manager Smart Grids and Resilient Electric Infrastructure, US Department of Energy

  • Kate Johnson, Chief, Green Building & Climate, Department of Energy & Environment

  • Michael McGhee, Executive Director, Office of Energy Initiatives, U.S Army

  • Ernest Jolly, Energy Chief, D.C. Water

  • Marcellous Frye Jr., Vice President, Strategy and Public Affairs, Washington Gas

The event will be held on March 7, 2019. You can find more details about the event here. To request an invitation to the event, please click here.


Advanced Energy Group is a stakeholder member-supported organization committed to developing and delivering advanced energy policies and solutions in key cities.  Stakeholder sessions are by invitation only.  For details of our programming please visit:

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