Integrated Decision Support for Energy/Water Planning in California and the Southwest

By David Yates and Kathleen A. Miller.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic Free Download

Policy makers and resource managers need to understand the interconnections between energy and water use and production—the energy-water nexus—to make well-informed decisions regarding long-term system planning. Planning and assessment issues include the development of strategies for reducing the vulnerabilities of water and energy systems to climate change while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. To provide useful decision support for climate adaptation policy and planning, it is important to understand the regionally-specific characteristics of the energy-water nexus, and the history of the current water and energy supply systems serving an area. This will help decision makers understand the extent to which past choices have determined the nature of current adaptive capacity, and how those choices may have reduced certain vulnerabilities, while perhaps increasing others. We present an integrated water/energy modeling platform that can facilitate tailored water-energy analyses based on a detailed representation of local conditions. The modeling platform entails linking the Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) integrated water management modeling system with the Long Range Energy Alternatives Planning (LEAP) system to create fully-coupled modeling capabilities. This will allow analysts to consider feedbacks between energy system development and changes in water policy or infrastructure in order to better represent the long-term consequences of decision-making in either sector. Preliminary results are presented from an effort to create this coupled modeling system for the U.S. Southwest and California. This region is marked by large-scale regional integration of both the electric power and water sectors. The linkages between water and energy planning and policy questions in this region are described along with early insights from applications of the coupled modeling system.

Keywords: Climate Impacts, Integrated Modeling, Hydrology, Water Systems, Electricity, Adaptation Planning

The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.49-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.534MB).

Dr. David Yates

Research Applications Lab, Research Applications Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA

David Yates is a Scientist in the Research Applications Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and an Associate of the Stockholm Environment Institute’s US Center. Dr. Yates has been a part of the development team of SEI’s Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) system that seamlessly couples the physical hydrology of watersheds, agricultural systems, and water management infrastructure; and the Long range Energy Alternatives Planning system (LEAP), which is used to explore energy policy analysis and climate change mitigation assessment strategies. He has trained University, NGO, and government agencies around the world on water management, climate change and the application of WEAP and LEAP.

Dr. Kathleen A. Miller

Scientist III, Climate Science and Applications Program, Research Applications Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA

Dr. Kathleen Miller is an economist who works with the Climate Science and Applications Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Her research focuses on human exploitation of climate-sensitive natural resources, and the socioeconomic and institutional factors affecting resource management decisions in the context of uncertainty and competing interests. Among her publications is a co-authored book on the implications of climate change for urban water utilities: Climate Change and Water Resources: A Primer for Municipal Water Providers (Awwa Research Foundation, 2006). She is a lead author of Chapter 3, “Water Resources and Their Management,” in the IPCC Working Group II, Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. She is also a lead author of the IPCC Technical Paper on Climate Change and Water. She received a B.A. in anthropology and M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Washington.

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