The start of a new decade at Con Edison can be summed up in two words: clean energy.
As leaders and innovators in the industry in addressing climate change, we’re already off to a great start having reduced our own carbon footprint by more than 50%. This is in addition to becoming the second largest solar producer in North America and the seventh largest in the world.
But there is so much more for us to accomplish. For our business, and for the planet.
As always, our three priorities—safety, operational excellence, and the customer experience—guide us toward protecting the environment, maintaining our best-in-class reliability, and creating a sustainable future for the company.
Our people—the women and men of Con Edison—are what make us such an incredible company, and so safety is always our top concern. Many parts of the company are going accident free. But we can’t feel good about that progress because five of our fellow employees suffered high-hazard injuries last year. That’s five too many. In the coming year we are redoubling our efforts toward our goal of a zero-harm workplace.
The first quarter of the year opened with the unprecedented attack of the coronavirus, requiring an extreme attention to safety and wellness, to keep both our customers and ourselves healthy. New York was the epicenter of this terrible crisis, and sadly, scores of our own employees tested positive. Even more heartbreaking, we lost colleagues to the virus. Our workforce had to work differently in many instances to maintain essential service for our customers—from separating crews into multiple vehicles to taking temperatures of employees arriving at our critical facilities.
We have benefited from long term planning—we have had a pandemic planning team for close to a decade that meets regularly, has response procedures, a playbook, and performs drills and table tops periodically. We also have a well-established and effectively honed Incident Command System structure that provides the emergency management resources we need.
In the days following our coronavirus response, we will be assessing long-term impact to our business and the service territory. But as this report will demonstrate, we are a strong company with dedicated employees and a long tradition of commitment to our communities.
When it comes to climate action, Con Edison envisions a clean future for the world’s most complex energy grid. Powering the lives of 10 million people, we are committed to building tomorrow’s grid in a manner that supports renewable energy sources like solar and offshore wind, while empowering customers to make smarter energy choices.
The first part of our climate response is to mitigate the risks of volatile weather on our systems. Our recent Climate Change Vulnerability Study stresses the importance of preparing our infrastructure to withstand and bounce back from the impacts of these extreme events. Over the next year, we’ll be developing an implementation plan that details our priority actions for the next five, 10, and 20 years.
Simultaneously, reducing carbon emissions is vital to our long-term sustainability. We’re already a top producer of solar energy, with a presence in 19 states. To accomplish the ambitious state and city climate goals, however, we are advocating for utility ownership of renewable projects right here at home in New York. Bold climate action like this will also help us achieve our own ambitious goal of 100% clean energy by 2040, which is part of our Clean Energy Commitment.
A considerable amount of greenhouse gas emissions in New York City comes from cars, trucks, and other vehicles—estimated at 30% of the city’s carbon production. That’s why Con Edison is paving the way for more electric vehicles on the road. We’re bringing electric vehicle charging stations to streets of New York in all five boroughs. We’re also helping customers switch to electric vehicles by offering lower rates for charging off-peak along with tools that allow customers to comparison shop and save.
We’re doing our part on this front, too. We are transitioning our fleet of light-duty vehicles to electric vehicles and will explore opportunities and alternative technologies to reduce our use of fossil fuels for our medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
To do all this and more, our electric system needs to advance. It needs to accommodate large-scale wind and solar projects, electric heating, and electric vehicles. Large commercial buildings, businesses, and homes must be more energy efficient to achieve our state and city goals for emission reduction, too.
Our ever-expanding array of energy efficiency opportunities have helped more than one million customers and prevented 7 million metric tons of carbon emissions, equal to taking more than one million cars off the road. We can’t stop there, though. As part of our Clean Energy Commitment, we plan to aggressively pursue reductions in overall energy use by tripling our energy efficiency programs and plan to invest over $1.5 billion by 2025.
While our ambitious efforts to improve the safety of our gas system by replacing gas mains has resulted in carbon reductions, we continue to feel the impact of pipeline constraints. To tackle the tight gas supply, we’re ramping up energy efficiency for customers and providing incentives to adopt electric alternatives or new technologies like ground and air-source heat pumps.
To tap into the best and most promising technologies available in clean energy, we’re seeking innovative, new solutions that will help customers reduce reliance on natural gas, offset the need to build additional pipeline infrastructure, and help New York State achieve its clean energy goals.
How we accomplish all this begins with solid corporate governance practices and a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Our board of directors is 50% diverse in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity, with an impressive blend of skills, tenure, backgrounds, and experiences. We conduct year-round shareholder engagement to hear from our stakeholders and continuously improve our governance practices and disclosures.
Similarly, the creation of a sustainable business relies heavily on recruitment and retainment of top-notch people at all levels of the company. It starts by investing in the growth of our current workforce through tuition reimbursement, leadership and technical training, and priority access to internal job opportunities.
From there, we turn our attention to recruiting diverse talent, veterans, and women. In fact, the percent of women hired has increased to 41%—that’s nearly 10% more than the previous year. By making sure our workplace is diverse, inclusive, and respectful, everyone has an opportunity to offer their best work and ideas.
Finally, a sustainable future isn’t possible without an intense focus on enriching the heart of our region—neighborhoods and communities. Last year we provided $12.6 million to area non-profits, which included organizations helping to foster the next generation of our workforce. We continue to commit time, talent, and treasure to mentoring students through the company’s job-shadow program. We partner with Energy Tech High School, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Fresh Air Fund, and these efforts promote technical careers and a future diverse talent pool.
In the decade ahead, our ultimate goal is to help our people, our communities, our business, and the planet thrive. Whether we’re combating climate change or preparing students for green careers, Con Edison is committed to tackling head-on the challenges of today to make tomorrow cleaner and brighter.
— John McAvoy,
Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, Consolidated Edison, Inc.