Coalition Presses Electric Companies over Global Warming Risks
BOSTON A coalition of environmentally oriented shareholders on Wednesday called on dozens of the nation's biggest electric utilities to report within a year on the financial risks they face from complying with regulations to address global warming.
The campaign by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies, or Ceres, was announced as the group said there is "widespread concern" among three electric utilities reporting so far about regulatory uncertainties they face as they invest in new facilities.
The three that have issued reports -- two Ohio companies, Cinergy Corp. and American Electric Power Co Inc., and Dallas-based TXU Corp. -- responded to shareholder resolutions and petitions. Ceres said at least four others are preparing reports: Atlanta-based Southern Co., FirstEnergy of Akron, Ohio, Progress Energy of Raleigh, N.C. and DTE Energy of Detroit.
Ceres said it is coordinating a shareholder campaign this month to seek reports from 43 other companies that rank among the nation's 50 largest investor-owned electric utilities. The companies are large emitters of carbon-based greenhouse gases that a large majority of scientists believe contribute to global warming.
Letters to the companies' chief executives are to be sent out this month, asking the companies to report on how growing regulatory requirements will affect plans to invest in new facilities.
Boston-based Ceres is among the groups that secured a commitment last month from Ford Motor Co. to write a similar report about its vehicles and factories. Ceres says its Investor Network on Climate Risk includes a dozen institutional investors controlling more than $800 billion in assets, including public pensions funds in California, New York, New York City and Connecticut.
Dan Riedinger, a spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, a Washington-based group representing the nation's shareholder-owned electricity generators, said electric utilities already face broad reporting requirements from government environmental agencies and securities regulators.
Given the uncertainty about regulations and technologies targeting greenhouse gases, many electric utilities are reluctant to offer investors predictions on how their businesses will be affected, Riedinger said.
"We would not want concerns and speculation about the future to get ahead of the debate about realistic policies to address greenhouse gases," he said.
On the Net:
Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies: http://www.ceres.org
Source: Associated Press