Essential Utilities Publishes 2019 Environmental, Social, and Governance Report
Essential Utilities Inc. (NYSE:WTRG) published its 2019 Environmental, Social, and Governance or ESG report today. The report, designed as in interactive microsite, is available at esg.essential.co.
Essential’s report reflects the efforts the company has taken to build a strong ESG platform. The report includes data from the 2019 calendar year and highlights achievements including:
Aqua, Essential’s water and wastewater division, achieved a 7x outperformance of the national average on drinking water compliance. Essential made an ambitious pledge to address the important issue of poly-fluoro alkyl substances or PFAS contamination in drinking water by setting a company-wide standard of 13 parts per trillion (ppt), well below the EPA’s non-enforceable health advisory level of 70ppt. PFAS are contaminants of emerging concern in communities across the country where groundwater is believed to have been impacted by nearby military bases or other causes. A state-of-the-art lab that is accredited and certified to test for PFAS is also being constructed and will open in early 2021.
Essential will be sourcing 100% of our electric power from renewables by 2022 for our water and wastewater operations in Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. We have also entered into a purchase power agreement to source 25% of our electricity from solar power for our Texas operations. Essential will increase its water and wastewater utility’s total energy derived from renewables to 60% in 2022 from around 5% at start of 2020. We also continue to make efficiency gains that have reduced the energy intensity of our operations.
Essential is proud to receive the Advancing Women Company Award from the Forum of Executive Women in recognition of a workplace where women can thrive, succeed and have a voice. We were also named a Winning “W” Company by 2020 Women on Boards in recognition of one-third of our board seats held by women. Essential has made great strides providing a workplace where all feel welcome and treated fairly, including diverse recruitment tactics, employee resource groups, and unconscious bias workshops for employees.
In 2019, we saw the strongest employee safety record across numerous metrics in the history of our water and wastewater business. The safety of Essential employees, customers, and communities is the foundation of our business and what guides all our employees’ actions. Essential continues to invest in safety improvements, implement policies and procedures guided by best practices and develop technical training and guidelines for our employees.
The foundation of ESG at Essential has been underway for a number of years. The ESG report replaces the company’s biannually published corporate social responsibility report. Essential has also completed the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) climate change survey each of the last three years, most recently receiving a score of B- in 2019. Additionally, Essential updated several ESG-related policies and made additional disclosures as part of the publication of ESG tear sheets and TCFD report.
A strong environmental focus will also be applied to Peoples, Essential’s natural gas division acquired in March 2020. The company is currently baselining Peoples’ overall emissions profile and expects to announce an emissions reduction target in the next six months. The replacement of nearly 3,000 miles of gas distribution lines is expected to significantly reduce methane emissions.