The U.S. utilities sector could suffer annual losses of up to $4.1 billion as climate hazards threaten to batter the industry’s infrastructure, according to a new report.
Roughly one in five global power lines are heavily exposed to rising sea levels, hurricanes, wildfires and storms, according to BloombergNEF data published Wednesday. In the U.S. alone, 700,000 kilometers (435,000 miles) of power grids are vulnerable to physical climate hazards — just shy of the distance to the moon and back.
Rating agencies have downgraded at least nine energy companies due to physical climate risks over the past three years. One firm, PG&E Corp., was forced into bankruptcy because of escalating wildfire risks. California investigators said this week that a power line owned by the company started the second-largest wildfire in the state’s history.