As we evaluate what the utility of the future means, we recognize that there are essential aspects of our business which will always remain fundamental to our success. We are committed to minimizing our impact to, and enhancing the environment in which we work. We also recognize safety as a core value, and strive to achieve an injury-free workplace. We keep our customers and other stakeholders front-of-mind when we address policy and regulatory matters, and focus on keeping customer costs low. Finally, the company’s continuing commitment to ethical operations and our rigorous audit program ensure that our business remains compliant with regulations, that procedural requirements are correctly implemented, and that we continue to drive improvement.
The company’s sustainability strategy is focused on two concepts regarding our environmental stewardship: mitigation and adaptation. From a mitigation standpoint, we strive to reduce our environmental footprint, making wise and effective use of natural resources. We also recognize that our climate is changing and that we must adapt our company to address the challenges of climate change and its impact on our business. We have identified five Key Sustainability Aspects related to our environmental performance and defined success in those areas as follows:
The following sections outline our progress in these areas, as well as the goals we look to achieve in the future as we strive to be a good environmental steward and corporate citizen.
At Con Edison, Zero Harm is our commitment to realizing injury-free work performance and getting the job done without harm to the public, our contractors, or our employees. We coordinate a robust safety program, communicate with our employees every day about the importance of identifying and mitigating hazards, and work to empower employees to take ownership of their own safety and that of their teammates. We also rely on our employees to identify ways that we can improve safety. These combined efforts resulted in another great year of safety performance, with Con Edison of New York achieving an OSHA rate of 1.31, and Orange and Rockland reducing their rate to 1.26. Also of note, Con Edison of New York saw a 50-percent reduction in the occurrence of high severity injuries. More about our efforts to keep the public and the contractors safe are discussed in this report’s Contractor and Public Safety sections.
Con Edison operates in a highly regulated environment and is affected by regulatory and social policy adopted at the federal, state, and municipal level. A number of significant proceedings that may impact the sustainability of electric service in New York were initiated by or received significant focus from the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) in 2014. These proceedings include: Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), which assesses the impact of distributed energy resources on the utility business model; the Clean Energy Fund (CEF) which will consider the future path of clean energy activities implemented by the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA); the Renewable Portfolio Standard program which funds renewable energy projects in the state; and the New York Green Bank, which seeks to remove barriers to using private capital to fund clean energy projects in the state. In addition, the US Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rulemaking that would seek to limit CO2 emissions from existing electric generation plants. The NYPSC also approved a settlement for rate filings affecting Con Edison’s electric, gas, and steam services.
The company seeks to provide input on state policy management and regulatory impact as we advocate our business positions and coordinate consistent regulatory and policy communications to meet the needs of our customers and shareholders.
At Con Edison we recognize the need for strong corporate values. Through the years, one of the most important lessons we have learned is that having a strong financial foundation and operational excellence are only part of what it takes to continue a company’s success. We firmly believe that doing business in an open, ethical, and fair manner creates business success that benefits all our stakeholders — our investors, our customers, and our employees.
To ensure the effectiveness of financial systems and operational performance, our auditing department provides an independent, fair, and objective appraisal of our facilities, operations, systems, and programs. These audits are performed in accordance with priorities established by the General Auditor in consultation with the CEO and the board’s audit committee. Additionally, we recognize that third-party verification of our efforts is also of value and so we have our EH&S management system ISO-14001 certified.
As part of our promise to provide our customers with safe, reliable service, we also recognize that every dollar that we invest has an impact on their bill each month. As a responsible corporate citizen and a publicly traded company, we need to invest in our system wisely, choosing which challenges to pursue, and following the most cost-effective options to overcome those challenges. Choosing the best cost-management strategies demonstrates that as a company we’re getting the best return possible on the dollars we spend.