New York State Pension Fund and Other Investors Urge Utilities to Ramp Up Renewable
Energy and Energy Efficiency
As You Sow and Calvert Investments Join Call for Cleaner Power, Citing Climate and
Water Risks at Ameren, FirstEnergy and Cleco
Major U.S. investors and pension funds have filed shareholder resolutions
with five electric power utilities urging them to increase deployment of
renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Feb 26, 2013 Major U.S. investors and pension funds have filed shareholder resolutions
with five electric power utilities—Ameren, Cleco, DTE Energy, FirstEnergy,
SCANA—urging them to increase deployment of renewable energy and energy
efficiency in order to mitigate climate-related risks and manage water use
amidst record heat and drought.
“The electric power sector is facing a range of risks, from strong storms to drought to stricter controls on
greenhouse gas emissions. In each case, shifting more resources to clean
energy and efficiency will help reduce risk to utility customers and
shareholders alike,” said Mindy Lubber, director of the $11 trillion
Investor Network on Climate Risk and president of Ceres, which helped to
coordinate the filings.
“Utilities are expected to spend $2 trillion on
infrastructure over the next 20 years, and investors want to ensure that
money is spent wisely.”
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, trustee of the $150
billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, which was recently ranked the
leading U.S. fund for climate risk management, led filings with electric
power providers urging Ameren, DTE Energy, FirstEnergy and SCANA to report
on actions to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy.
resolutions come on the heels of FirstEnergy’s opposition to Ohio energy
efficiency standards, and DTE Energy’s opposition to renewable energy policy
initiatives in Michigan. All four firms relied on
coal for more than 50 percent of the electricity they generated in 2010.
“As long term shareholders, we are invested in the sustainability of our
portfolio companies,” said DiNapoli.
“Given the current regulatory climate,
an excessive reliance on coal can create serious risk to shareholder value.
Companies should take proactive steps to increase energy efficiency and
promote renewable energy sources.”
text of New York State’s resolutions positions renewable energy and
energy efficiency as a risk mitigation strategy for utilities.
It cites the
Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) recent integrated resource plan, which
“determined that the lowest-cost, lowest-risk strategies involve
diversifying TVA’s resource portfolio by increasing investments in energy
efficiency and renewable energy.”
separate filings with Ameren and FirstEnergy, As You Sow stressed the
importance of water management, as the Midwest experienced record drought
and extreme heat in 2012.
The filings request that the utilities adopt
strategies and quantitative goals to reduce water use and thermal impacts,
including maximizing the use of less water-intensive energy sources such as
photovoltaic (PV) solar and wind power. Calvert Investments filed a similar
resolution with Cleco.
“The electric power sector is one of the largest users of water in the
U.S., accounting for 41 percent of total freshwater withdrawals, mainly for
generation and cooling.
This nexus between energy and water presents a
critical vulnerability for electric utilities that rely on water-intensive
energy sources such as coal and nuclear power,” said Corinne Bendersky,
energy program manager at As You Sow.
“With climate change expected to
exacerbate droughts, induce more frequent and severe heat waves, and change
rainfall patterns, investors believe that electric utilities should better
understand their exposure to water-related risks and develop plans to
operate effectively in a water-constrained world.”
In 2012, Ceres issued
Practicing Risk-Aware Electricity Regulation, which analyzed the
costs and risks involved in meeting America’s power needs through a variety
of strategies, from constructing large centralized power plants, to reducing
demand through energy efficiency and deploying distributed generation and
renewable energy sources.
The report concludes that the energy option with the lowest level
of risk and lowest costs is energy efficiency.
lower-risk energy options included onshore wind, geothermal and biomass
co-firing. The report also points out that costs for distributed solar PV
and wind have fallen significantly in recent years.
Ceres is an advocate for sustainability leadership. Ceres mobilizes a
powerful coalition of investors, companies and public interest groups to
accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and
solutions to build a healthy global economy.
Ceres also directs the Investor
Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of 100 institutional investors
with collective assets totaling more than $11 trillion.
For more information, visit