FEMA power plant proposal

FEMA power plant proposal

October 25, 2022 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

The fate of a FEMA proposal to require power plants and other projects, like drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities, to be able to withstand extreme weather events should be decided around November 1.

Most such facilities must be built currently to comply with building codes for risk category I assets. The Federal Emergency Management Agency proposal would bump them to risk category IV.

The international building code ranks buildings and other structures in four risk categories, with IV being the highest, based on the how essential they are to human life. Examples of category IV assets are hospitals, fire and rescue services and emergency storm shelters.

The solar industry has proposed moving solar power plants to risk category II as an alternative to the category IV classification.

Any change would be made in the international building code starting in 2024.

A letter from 315 clean energy companies to the international standards body, the International Code Council, in October said a category IV classification could push up the cost of wind turbines by about 30%. The Solar Energy Industries Association said compliance with category IV building codes would require projects to be able to withstand 33% stronger wind and 50% stronger earthquakes and winter storms.

SEIA says that FEMA is now supporting its proposal for a category II classification.