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Peoples and the Environment

As an Essential Utilities company, Peoples carries a constant commitment to provide safe and reliable access to life-sustaining natural resources for our communities. We act as stewards of the environment and strive to constantly improve our operations and reduce our impacts, as evidenced by our commitment to reduce our emissions by 60 percent by 2035.

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    We’ve built strong relationships with community partners like Venture Outdoors, TreePittsburgh, the National Aviary, the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium, and Riverlife to help give back to our environment even more – including with our enthusiastic employee volunteers!
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    Our volunteers partnered up with Venture Outdoors to kayak along the Allegheny River to pick up litter. This group of Peoples employees pulled 195lbs of trash out of the river!

Our commitment to preserving the environment starts with our product itself. Many people don’t realize that natural gas is the cleanest of fossil fuels, and its growing use in Pennsylvania and nationwide has led to dramatic declines in emissions. Despite natural gas’ growth as an energy source, methane emissions from U.S. gas utilities like Peoples have decreased 69 percent since 1990, and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have hit 30-year lows thanks to improvements in natural gas efficiencies, coupled with growth in renewable energies.

We continue working to make our environment better by investing in innovations to leverage natural gas’ standing as a clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy source with few peers. At Peoples, we are also investing hundreds of millions of dollars annually to replace outdated pipeline infrastructure with state-of-the-art replacement lines that provide safer, more reliable service with fewer emissions. We’ve committed to reduce Scope 1 & 2 emissions 60 percent from our 2019 baseline by 2035, and we are well on our way to that goal. Take a look at our ESG Report for more details on our overall company progress.

But that’s not all. Our company culture of volunteerism leads our employees to donate hundreds of hours each year to clean up our communities – planting trees, picking up litter, and and more. In 2023, Peoples participated in the second annual Essential Earth Day to support environmentally focused nonprofits throughout its 3-state service territory. Peoples volunteers donated approximately 830 hours of their time to organizations such as Tree Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the Sarah Heinz House, Riverlife, Western PA Outdoors for Heroes, Pine Grove Cemetery, and more. Combined with Earth Day efforts by sister company, Aqua, Essential held more than 30 volunteer & education events and donated approximately $500,000. Peoples volunteers planted hundreds of trees, cleaned up multiple parks, trails and cemeteries, and bonded with each other and our community partners during Essential Earth Day.

Partnerships and Programs

  • Infrastructure Improvement

    As part of our commitment to reduce Scope 1 & 2 emissions by 60% by 2034, we will replace approximately 3,000 miles of distribution pipeline between 2017 – 2033. This Long-Term Infrastructure Improvement Plan (LTIIP) will provide Southwestern Pennsylvania with a safer, more reliable gas distribution network with significantly fewer emissions. Peoples will invest nearly $500 million annually on LTIIP through its conclusion in 2034, reducing emissions by about 4% per year.
  • Tree Pittsburgh

    Peoples is a longtime supporter of Tree Pittsburgh. By joining forces to protect and expand the city and surrounding area’s urban forests, we enhance the environment and daily life in a number of ways. As part of Essential Earth Day 2023, Peoples donated $50,000 to Tree Pittsburgh for forest stewardship and bolstering the organization’s staffing.
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  • The National Aviary

    Peoples is proud to support our Northside neighbors at The National Aviary. Home to more than 500 birds, many of them threatened or endangered in the wild, guests can see more than 150 different species around the world here in Pittsburgh. We’re glad to present the Treetops habitat, home to rare Vietnam Pheasants and Toco Toucans, and sponsor the Aviary’s annual Hike-A-Thon. During the fall, take the whole family for an educational and entertaining trip to learn about Forests!
  • Partnering with the EDF to Reduce Methane

    In 2016, we joined 32 other natural gas utilities to launch the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program. These 33 founding partners serve 66% of the natural gas customers in the nation. 

    As a founding partner of the Methane Challenge, we believe that this program is an essential piece of our commitment to preserve the environment. To uphold our commitment, we will continue to make infrastructure improvements and introduce new technology that will help to significantly reduce methane emissions.

    With that in mind, in 2019 we announced a revitalized effort with the Environmental Defense Fund and Carnegie Mellon University to leverage their cutting-edge technologies and resources. By outfitting one of our vehicles with the latest in methane detection technology, we can map methane emissions around the City of Pittsburgh, analyze the data, and better prioritize pipeline repair and replacement efforts.

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