Climate Change Research and Adaptation Advisor

City of Seattle

Seattle, WA, US

Position Description

Seattle City Light, a department of the City of Seattle, is one of the nation’s largest municipally owned utilities in terms of the number of customers served. Over the years we have worked very hard to keep Seattle’s electricity affordable, reliable, and environmentally sound. Today, City Light is a recognized national leader in energy efficiency and environmental stewardship.
The Climate Change Research and Adaptation Strategic Advisor will lead Seattle City Light’s (SCL’s) efforts to adapt to climate change. This position will serve as a key advisor to senior officials and make recommendations to help shape significant SCL and City policies and programs, and will represent SCL in strategic arenas. The employee will educate and collaborate with staff across the utility to build awareness, partnerships, and momentum around understanding/assessing the impacts of climate change, developing climate adaptation strategies, implementing the current SCL climate adaptation plan, and revising the plan as new information becomes available. This position will serve as SCL’s representative in select forums organized to develop an understanding of the potential impacts of climate change on the electric power industry and potential adaptation strategies, as well as to identify potential policy solutions. This position will identify, prioritize, and oversee research to support SCL’s climate change adaptation efforts and prepare proposals to secure funding for impact assessments and adaptation efforts as needed.  This position will report to the Science Policy Unit Manager in the Environment, Land, and Licensing Business Unit.

Job Responsibilities
  • Coordinate with other divisions of SCL to identify adaptation strategies that increase the utility’s resilience to climate change and related natural hazards and extreme weather.
  • Collaborate with other divisions in the utility (e.g., Resource Planning, Emergency Management, Demand Forecasting, Distribution Planning, Generation Operations) to facilitate implementation of the utility’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan and update the plan as necessary.
  • Stay current on the latest approaches and methods for adapting to climate change impacts and increasing resilience.
  • Identify information gaps and needs in the utility’s understanding of the potential effects of climate change on assets, operations, and the natural resources that the utility seeks to protect.
  • Manage contracts for climate impacts assessments, research, and technical modeling studies with academic institutions, government agencies, and consulting firms. Work will include identifying contractors, developing the scope of work, managing budgets, and ensuring timely and complete deliverables.
  • Serve as the primary advisor to management, including the General Manager, on potential climate change impacts to the utility and evolving policies on resilience and adaptation.
  • Serve as the utility’s primary expert on climate impacts and adaptation while supporting staff across the utility to build awareness of the impacts and internal capacity to prepare for and respond to them.
  • Provide education and training opportunities for utility staff as needed.
  • Represent SCL and its climate change adaptation program at scientific conferences, workshops, public meetings, and in the media.
  • Represent SCL and its climate change adaptation program in national, regional, and local partnerships convened around issues related to climate science and resilience.
  • Coordinate the utility’s climate research and resilience efforts with other City departments, including Seattle Public Utilities and Office of Sustainability and the Environment.
  • Implement and update SCL’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan.
  • Advise the General Manager and responsible utility managers on appropriate utility operational responses to climate change.
  • Make recommendations on research needed to assess the impacts of climate change on utility operations.
  • Oversee an annual SCL climate change research budget.
  • Work with partners inside and outside of SCL to identify collaborative research efforts to assess climate impacts and identify appropriate responses.
  • Make presentations to internal and external groups, including City Council, on climate change issues and SCL’s Climate Adaptation Program.
  • Contribute substantively to the Climate Impact section of the SCL Integrated Resource Plan. 

Education: B.S. in Environmental, Natural, or Physical Science or equivalent degree.
Experience: A minimum of five years of progressively responsible experience working in the area of environmental impacts associated with climate change. Experience acting as a technical expert on climate change issues and developing recommendations for senior management on policy options and program direction. Experience providing strategic advice on the appropriate levels and allocation of resources for major services or programs with significant long-term implications. Familiar with modeling techniques, climate processes, utility operations (including power planning concepts and utility economics) and carbon trading systems. Strong research, quantitative, and analytical skills and a solid understanding of Word and Excel. Exhibits strong negotiating skills. Ability to work effectively with people of all types; understand several scientific disciplines, and handle multiple and varied assignments. Knowledge of federal, state and local environmental laws, regulations, and policies applicable to Washington State. Strong written and oral communication skills. Demonstrated ability to prioritize research needs and oversee research budgets. Experience with comprehensive program development.
Certification/License: Washington State Driver’s License or equivalent mobility.

Desired Qualifications: M.S. or Ph.D. in Environmental or Physical Science (e.g., hydrology). Climate and watershed process modeling experience. A thorough understanding of utility operations and resource allocation.

Additional Information

Job offers are contingent on the verification of credentials and other information required by the employment process including the completion of a background check which includes criminal history and driving history review.

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