U.S. Investors Support Global Warming Resolution with Dominion Resources
BOSTON, MA///April 27, 2006/// Several leading U.S. institutional investors, representing over $475 billion in invested assets, today announced they are supporting a shareholder resolution requesting that Dominion Resources in Richmond, VA prepare a report on the company's strategies and potential risks from foreseeable regulations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants. The resolution will be voted on at the company's annual meeting Friday April 28.
The shareholders include many of the country's largest public pension funds, including the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the New York City Employees Retirement System. The resolution also won the support this month from Institutional Investor Services (ISS), an influential advisor to institutional investors.
The resolution was filed by Trillium Asset Management in Boston and the New York City Employees Retirement System.
Noting that nearly a dozen U.S. states are taking steps to reduce power plant emissions and the growing momentum for national greenhouse gas limits, investors will be supporting a resolution requesting "a report, reviewed by a board committee of independent directors, on how the company is responding to rising regulatory, competitive, public pressure to significantly carbon dioxide and other emissions from the company's current and proposed power plant operations." The resolution requests that the report be finished by Sept. 1, 2006.
The resolution comes as a half-dozen other leading power companies, including American Electric Power, DTE Energy, Cinergy, TXU and Southern, have already issued reports to shareholders about the implications of climate change regulations for their businesses. Four other power companies in the Midwest also agreed earlier this year to prepare climate risk reports requested by shareholders, including Great Plains Energy and Alliant Energy. Dominion has received similar shareholders requests in recent years, but has balked at producing such a report.
"Without the cooperation of the electric power sector, the greenhouse gas reductions required to avert a climate catastrophe will be impossible to achieve," said Shelley Alpern, director of social research and advocacy at Trillium Asset Management, the lead filer of the resolution. "From all appearances, Dominion is failing to grasp the long term impact of this reality on its business."
"With the growing certainty of scientific data and the increasing global focus on mitigating climate change, including rising regulatory pressures, pension fund fiduciaries have an obligation to seek to understand the risks and opportunities that climate change poses to companies in which they are invested," said New York City Comptroller William Thompson Jr., whose office has been active in urging electric power companies to analyze the financial impacts of climate change.
Eight Northeastern states recently approved a market-based accord to reduce GHG emissions from regional power plants, beginning in 2009. A handful of other states, including California and Colorado, now expect power companies to factor carbon emission costs into their proposals for new power plants. Climate-related legislation is also under consideration in Congress and last year a majority of U.S. Senators approved a resolution stating that Congress should approve mandatory, market-based limits on emissions of greenhouse gases.
Dominion generates about 40 percent of its power from burning coal, a high GHG emitting energy source, and in 2004, the company emitted 62,000 tons of carbon dioxide, seventh highest among all electric power companies in the U.S., according to an air emissions trend report issued this month by the Ceres investor coalition and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Ceres published a second report in March - Corporate Governance and Climate Change: Making the Connection - that evaluated how 100 leading companies, including Dominion and 18 other U.S. power companies, were responding to potential risks and opportunities from climate change. The report uses a "Climate Change Governance Checklist" to evaluate how companies are addressing climate change through board oversight, management performance, public disclosure, GHG emissions accounting and strategic planning. Dominion received the 17th lowest score, 27 points, among the 19 power companies.
"Board members at low-scoring companies such as Dominion should address the climate issue with management and begin educating themselves on the business and financial dimensions of this issue," said Mindy S. Lubber, president at Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, comprised of 50 institutional investors managing nearly $3 trillion in assets.
Peyton Fleming, Ceres, 617-247-0700 x 20