Hurricane Ian rocked southwest Florida with all the damage and years of rebuilding in plain sight on our television screens. It is becoming obvious that this is not the last of huge killer hurricanes as the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and other large bodies of water heat up. Southwest Florida is planning to rebuild with scientists and city planners exploring ways to make towns more resilient for the next hurricane. They should start by looking at a planned community right in their backyard called Babcock Ranch who survived a direct hit yet roofs stayed on, there was minimal flooding, and the electricity never failed.
Ryan Foelske a Carbon Free Electricity Program manager at RMI (previously the Rocky Mountain Institute) decided to put his money where his mouth is by buying a home in Babcock Ranch, a community designed to both reduce human contribution to climate change and to be more resilient to the effects of climate change, especially hurricanes. He tells us about his experience weathering hurricane Ian.
Prior to joining RMI, Ryan worked at Deutsche Bank and Brookfield Asset Management as a buy-side equity analyst specializing in global regulated utilities and other publicly listed infrastructure companies. He built financial models, understood and quantified risks, and sought benchmark-beating returns for investors. In addition to his company coverage duties, Ryan helped develop the modeling framework, standardized and aggregated data outputs, and worked on index construction and inclusion.
As we discuss in the episode, resilience is an area of extensive funding under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Babcock Ranch has not received any funding under these pieces of federal legislation. Nevertheless we think its resilience measures are worth considering as background for other projects that may receive such funding in the future.
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