Chief Executive Officer’s Letter
Chief Executive Officer’s Letter
In the past year, our company has been challenged as never before. First, by a pandemic that has taken more than 500,000 American lives, including some of our colleagues. By renewed calls across our country for racial justice that have compelled so many of us to look inward. And by extreme weather events that tested our ability to keep the power flowing to the 10 million people who depend on us.
I’m proud of our response to each of these challenges because it showcased the talent, dedication, and resiliency of our employees. Proud because our work ethic and sense of responsibility demonstrate that Con Edison is poised and ready to create a future built on clean energy, a diverse and inclusive workforce, and sustainable communities.
Our company has a Clean Energy Commitment that represents a major step forward in the industry. It is a bold and innovative plan focused on providing our service area with 100 percent clean electricity by 2040, tripling our energy efficiency by 2030, expanding our efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels for heating through the installation of geothermal devices, and continuing to create an infrastructure for the wider use of electric vehicles.
Since 2009, our energy efficiency initiatives have resulted in upgrades for one million customers and a decrease of seven million metric tons of carbon emissions. The reduction of our carbon footprint is equal to taking 500,000 cars off the road. That’s why the Smart Electric Power Alliance named us one of the nation’s ten best companies in carbon reduction. And we’re not done. Our steam network—the largest in America—eliminates about one million tons of carbon dioxide every year.
The steps we have already taken toward a clean energy future have made our company the second-largest producer of solar electricity in North America and the seventh largest in the world. And we currently have solar and wind energy projects in operation or under construction in 20 states.
I believe 100 percent clean electricity is achievable through our expertise in developing, owning, and operating renewable generation projects. We’re seeking regulatory approval to add many medium- and large-scale renewable generation projects in New York. And we continue to invest in new transmission and battery storage facilities that support clean energy resources.
We’re on track to install five million smart meters in homes and businesses in our service territory by next year. That’s a $1 billion commitment in a clean energy future. Smart meters provide customers with unparalleled choice in how and when they use energy. Empowering customers to make better decisions about their energy use is not only good for their bottom line but also good for the environment.
My confidence in our company’s ability to achieve our goals has only grown following our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the height of the pandemic, our employees helped build COVID testing centers, provided power for medical sites, and built face shields that were donated to frontline healthcare workers. Our field crews and other essential workers kept the power flowing throughout this challenging period, practicing social distancing and wearing masks to work safely.
We’re helping to keep the public safe in other ways: We minimized close contact by suspending meter readings last spring. To help relieve the financial hardships faced by businesses and homeowners, we offered more flexible payment agreements and waived late fees. And because of improvements to our website, the number of customers choosing the safety and convenience of online payments has increased by 50 percent.
In response to the crisis, we enabled half of our employees to work safely and efficiently from home. We’re also offering mental health counseling, resources for parental and home schooling, bereavement counseling, and enhanced training for managers that emphasizes the need to treat others with empathy and compassion.
The people of Con Edison have long shown the ability to withstand challenges. Our employees work together to find solutions, and we do our utmost to plan and prepare for what may lie ahead.
Climate change poses a major threat, one we’ve been reminded of with more frequent and severe weather events, including Tropical Storm Isaias last August. In response, we’ve developed a Climate Resiliency and Adaptation Plan, one that emerged from an earlier climate change vulnerability study we did in conjunction with Columbia University and global consulting firm ICF.
Con Edison is recognized for innovation and putting a can-do attitude into practice every day. We were the first utility in the country to install natural-gas detectors in homes that find gas leaks early, sound an alarm, and notify emergency responders faster than ever. We’ve also installed special observation systems in manholes that monitor conditions like carbon monoxide, temperature, and water levels.
It’s because of forward thinking, initiative, and a strict adherence to our three priorities—safety, operational excellence, and the customer experience—that we are prepared to lead the industry on clean energy.
Can you imagine a world with only electric-powered vehicles? It’s coming. And we’re in the forefront of making it happen. We’re connecting thousands of new public and customer-owned charging stations through a $300 million investment in charging stations throughout our region. Our company’s commitment to electric vehicles is one of the most ambitious in the country.
Through best practices and an ability to adapt to customers’ needs, we have achieved dividend growth for 47 consecutive years—longer than any other energy company in the S&P 500. We have a history of being stewards of the environment and good neighbors. Newsweek recognized that when it named us one of America’s most responsible companies.
The pandemic has given rise to a term with which many Americans were unfamiliar: food insecurity. So many of our fellow citizens are struggling to feed themselves and their families. In 2020, our company gave more than $800,000 to organizations that feed the hungry. Our employees also donated their own time for socially distant volunteer efforts, including beautifying public spaces in communities where we live and work.
Let me make it clear that Con Edison takes seriously the need to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce—one with greater representation for women and people of color in all areas, including the company’s leadership. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others sharply exposed the racial injustice and systemic inequality that exists in our country. Those tragic incidents, coupled with a rise this year in violence against Asian Americans, have led to introspection within our company about what we can do to be better.
We vow to undercover and address barriers to equity in our workplace, wherever they may exist. We pledge to transform our culture through ongoing dialogue and companywide training to eliminate unconscious bias. Furthermore, we have added a performance measure this year that ties executive compensation to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’re on the right track. As You Sow, an organization focused on environmental and corporate responsibility, ranks us among the ten best companies when it comes to integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into our policies and practices. But we’re determined to do more because we know that a truly diverse and inclusive workforce will make our company stronger.
Our employees are exceptional. You’ll learn about some of them as you interact with this report. Because of our dedicated employees and our collective determination to find solutions to any challenge, I’m confident that Con Edison is well positioned to be in the vanguard of a clean energy future while ensuring the sustainability of our company and the communities we serve.
— Timothy P. Cawley,
President and Chief Executive Officer, Consolidated Edison of New York, Inc.