Climate change is a big problem. Humans are increasingly affecting the world’s weather. We are raising the earth’s temperature by burning fossil fuels, cutting down rainforests and farming livestock.
Our activities add enormous amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming.
Canada-based Algonquin Power & Utilities Corporation has stated that the most significant future risks they see are related to climate change. Yet, they view this problem as creating opportunities for the firm.
It starts with their business purpose – which is clearly and simply stated as “Sustaining Energy and Water for Life.” From their beginnings 30 years ago building renewable energy run-of-river hydroelectric generating stations, sustainability has been at the heart of the company and fundamental to the way they do business.
In alignment with the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), the company has set six sustainability goals. They aim to take shared responsibility for leaving this planet a better place than they found it.
In 2019, they published a comprehensive Sustainability Report which further detailed their plans.
Roadmap for Sustainability Success
1. Climate Action – Goal of reducing GHG emissions by 20% or one million metric tons by 2023
2. Clean and Affordable Energy – Goal to provide clean and affordable energy by developing 2,000 MW of new wind and solar capacity by 2023
3. Healthy Water Ecosystems – Goal of recharging more than 78 billion gallons of water in Arizona over the next century. (aquifer replenishment effort)
4. Local and Empathic Business Model – 2023 Goal to reach top-quartile customer service as ranked by J.D. Power
5. Empowering Our People – using culture as a sustainable competitive advantage. 2023 Goal to reach top-quartile employee engagement as ranked by AON.
6. Championing Equality – 2023 goal to reach and exceed 30% of women in leadership roles across our business (in historically male dominated business)
They Put Sustainability Plans into Action
Algonquin is putting its sustainability commitment into action on several fronts:
480-MW Maverick Creek Wind Project in Texas – In a joint venture with Renewable Energy Systems (RES) the world’s largest independent renewable energy company – to generate enough renewable energy to power about 168,000 homes annually. This plan will qualify for 100% of Federal PTC / Renewable Energy Production Tax Credits.
Asbury power plant in Missouri run by subsidiary Liberty Utilities. This coal-fired plant was retired as of 3/1/20 and expected to reduce C02 emissions by ~ 1 million metric tons per year, while saving customers as much as $325 million over the next 20 years. The company plans to add 600 MW of wind and 10 MW of community solar power in this service area by 2021.
Liberty Aquifer Replenishment Facility (LAF) Project near Phoenix, AZ is being undertaken in conjunction with the Central Arizona Water Conservation District. Ground water in this area is drawn from aquifer and typically not replenished. Reclaimed wastewater created at Liberty’s Palm Valley Water Reclamation facility is now being returned to the aquifer – enough for 164,000 consumer each year.
Chevron Renewable Power Project: Algonquin and Chevron recently announced their intention to co-develop renewable power projects that will provide electricity to strategic assets across Chevron’s global portfolio. Chevron plans to generate more than 500 MW of its existing and future electricity demand from renewable resources. Algonquin will lead the design, development and construction of the projects.
This partnership leverages Algonquin’s technical and operational expertise in renewable power with Chevron’s scale, land, and local knowledge to enable faster, more cost-effective cleaner energy solutions, ” said Arun Banskota, Chief Executive Officer of Algonquin (right). “Continuing to invest in renewable energy solutions is fundamental to our business strategy. By working with sustainability champions like Chevron, we maximize the positive impact of the low carbon technologies we offer to communities across the U.S. and Canada, and internationally.”
Algonquin has received outside recognition for their sustainability efforts. They were ranked #10 overall as a global leader in sustainability by the Corporate Knights 2020 Global 100 Most Sustainable Companies in the world. Algonquin was also one of the highest ranked utility companies and highest ranked Canada-based company on the list.
Doing Well (financially) by Doing Good
Conventionally, people often expect environmental, social and governance strategies to increase costs and adversely impact profits.
Algonquin’s stock price (NYSE: AQN) has consistently outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average benchmark over the past year. They are expected to post 2 Q 20 quarterly earnings of $0.12 per share in its upcoming earnings report, representing a year-over-year change of +9.1%. Revenues are expected to be $357.37 million, up 4% form the year-ago quarter.
Algonquin’s sustainability success is reflected in their financial performance. It’s yet more proof that a company can do well by doing good.