Conducting our business with integrity in a socially and environmentally responsible manner earns the trust of our customers, attracts talented new employees, and demonstrates our shared responsibility of restoring our planet. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives are fully integrated into the policies and principles that govern our company.
In addition to our comprehensive Eversource 2020 Sustainability Report, we have been a leader within our trade groups, the Edison Electric Institute and the American Gas Association, working to create standardized ESG disclosures across our industry. In 2017, the nation’s electric companies adopted a common set of ESG disclosures, and in 2018, natural gas companies similarly adopted a common set of qualitative and quantitative ESG disclosures as set forth here.
We are committed to environmental stewardship and to minimizing our impact on the environment. With climate change as one of the most pressing challenges we face, we understand the importance of reducing emissions.
Implementing strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
The carbon intensity of the New England electrical grid is among the lowest in the country and is continuously supported by state reduction goals in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Each state is a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and has its own carbon goal or action plan to reduce GHG emissions, and we work with our regulators to contribute to targeted reductions.
||GHG Reduction Targets
||45% below 2001 levels by 2030; Net Zero for the electric sector by 2040; 80% below 2001 levels by 2050
||50% below 1990 level by 2030; Net Zero by 2050
||80% below 1990 level by 2050*
* Recommendation of the New Hampshire Climate Change Policy Taskforce
Our strategies focus on reducing our own emissions, helping our customers reduce their energy use, and supporting our region to facilitate achievement of state GHG reduction targets.
Energy efficiency is one of the most effective ways to save money, create jobs, reduce GHG emissions and enhance energy security. Eversource is consistently recognized as a leader in energy efficiency by national industry organizations. We take great pride in designing and delivering solutions that are emulated by others across the country. Our energy efficiency portfolio reflects and responds to the way our customers live and use energy today and takes a multi-year approach that enables us to help customers plan for the future.
We invested $585 million in 2020 to help customers save 952 million kilowatt-hours and 9.6 million therms annually and reduce their energy costs by nearly $200 million per year. Decoupled distribution rates and financial incentives awarded based on the effectiveness of our programs provide us with financial stability.
We are also committed to help the states we serve meet their Renewable Portfolio Standards, which require a certain percentage of the states’ electricity supply to come from renewable sources.
|Renewable Portfolio Standards & Clean Energy Standards
* Massachusetts requirements include Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards and Clean Energy Standards. Beginning in 2021, Massachusetts added an additional requirement to procure 20% of retail suppliers load from existing clean energy sources (CES-E)
Securing a clean energy future is a key priority, and we have adopted bold strategies to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy for New England. We actively support state and federal emission reduction goals and are developing adaptation and resiliency strategies to address climate change. We are proud to be an industry leader in the development and operation of infrastructure to support clean energy.
As New England’s largest utility and a dedicated environmental steward, Eversource is committed to bringing more clean, affordable and sustainable energy to the Northeast.
Through our partnership with Ørsted, we are one of the nation’s leading developers of offshore wind. Our partnership is consistent with Eversource’s strategy to be a catalyst for clean energy development in New England.
The partnership includes three offshore wind leases totaling 557 square miles located off the coast of southeast New England with the potential to produce at least 4,000 MW of offshore wind generating capacity.
Our offshore wind projects are subject to receipt of federal, state and local approvals necessary to construct and operate the projects. The federal permitting process is governed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), and state approvals are required from New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
The partnership has been awarded three long-term contracts for key offshore wind assets in the Northeast as follows:
||South Fork Wind
||20-year contract; NY
||20-year contracts; CT/RI
||25-year contract; NY
|Most Recent Commercial Operation Date
Eversource owns 22 solar facilities, four of which beneficially repurpose landfill or other brownfield sites. Collectively, these facilities produce 70 MW of generation, enough to power more than 11,000 homes. Renewable Energy Credits from these projects are passed along to our customers as a savings on electric rates. In March 2021, a Massachusetts climate bill was passed authorizing each utility company to own and develop 280 MW of solar generation facilities and storage where feasible. Our plans include developing new solar to help meet the Commonwealth’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We will provide outreach to environmental justice communities about this program. Additionally, Eversource customers have installed solar installations totaling about 1,700 MW.
We are advancing an innovative energy storage project for our customers. Construction of our Provincetown, Massachusetts, first-in-the-nation community battery storage project, which will improve power quality and reliability for electric customers in communities on outer Cape Cod, began in June 2020 and is projected for completion in late 2021.
Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
With the transportation sector representing an estimated 40% of New England’s emissions, we believe we have an important role to play to support more efficient mobility solutions. We are investing in charging infrastructure for the growing number of electric vehicles (EVs) and enabling our customers to adopt this cleaner mode of transportation.
In Massachusetts, we are implementing the second largest public-facing EV infrastructure program in the nation after California. We installed 180 electric charging sites in 2020 and are on track to meet our goal of 400 sites that will enable 3,500 charging ports by the end of 2021 – a year ahead of schedule. As we complete these projects, we maintain a strong focus on supporting equity and environmental justice in the communities we serve, with 19% of EV charging sites installed in these communities, exceeding our goal of 10%. Our investment in local grid upgrades to support additional charging stations is a significant step forward in promoting the adoption of EVs. It will also help bring EV technology to underserved communities.
Our 2030 Carbon Neutrality Goal
We are dedicating ourselves to meeting an industry-leading target to reduce our greenhouse gas footprint and reach carbon neutrality in our operations by 2030. Overseeing our plan to achieve neutrality is a dedicated Oversight Committee comprised of cross functional company leaders. Subcommittees are focused on pursuing reductions in our operational emissions by improving efficiency and implementing emerging technologies, engaging our employees and external stakeholders in the development and implementation of innovative strategies, and investigating opportunities to offset carbon emissions we cannot avoid. In 2020, we saw a decrease in our overall emissions of 17% compared to 2018. We are focused on achieving our goal by reducing our emissions in the following five key operational areas:
- Methane: We continue to make improvements to our natural gas distribution system by replacing aging pipes to reduce methane leaks. Since 2015, we have replaced 408 miles of steel, cast-iron and wrought-iron natural gas distribution infrastructure in Connecticut and Massachusetts in accordance with programs approved by state regulators. As of the end of 2020, we replaced 16% of the bare steel and cast-iron mains across our system, exceeding our goal set in 2017 to replace 14.5%. We are also pursuing innovative options, such as piloting geothermal technology.
- Line Loss: Line loss, or the energy lost when power is transmitted and distributed across our electric system, is the electric industry’s biggest challenge for emissions reduction. We continue to reduce the climate impact of line loss as we improve efficiencies in our transmission infrastructure and collaborate with state and regional efforts that are enabling a cleaner mix of energy in the grid.
- SF6: We are working with industry partners to research and test innovative solutions to replace sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), which is commonly used as an electrical insulator. We are also focused on reducing SF6 emissions from our existing equipment through strong maintenance practices and the successful implementation of a detailed SF6 tracking and inventorying approach.
- Fleet: A key focus for the fleet operation is the drive to reduce emissions from fuel consumption. We are focused on continued adoption of hybrid vehicles and alternative fuel sources as substitutes for diesel and gasoline, such as biodiesel and compressed natural gas. We have developed partnerships with vendors developing innovative technologies such as Altec JEMS® and XL Fleet that specialize in emissions reducing tools and technology to help us reduce idle time, improve miles per gallon, and automate fuel reduction. Fleet management also intends to replace all overhead trucks and 50% of our fleet vehicles with hybrid alternatives by 2030.
- Facilities: In 2020, we contracted nearly 19 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to power our facilities. During building renovations, we implement measures that will lower our energy use, such as efficient lighting installation, control system upgrades, and space optimization. We transitioned approximately 250,000 square feet of our facility lighting to light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. Our goal is to have 100% of our facilities transitioned to LED lighting by the end of 2022. During facility renovations, we are also improving building envelopes and installing rooftop and carport solar when feasible.
Eversource looks to protect the natural environment and minimize potential impacts from our business through strong management practices and partnerships with environmental stakeholders and state agencies. Focus areas include:
- Water resource protection and conservation
- Responsible waste management
- Land preservation
- Wildlife and habitat protection
- Effective vegetation management
Eversource recognizes that our employees are our most valuable asset. We strive to attract, retain, and develop a diverse and inclusive workforce through comprehensive benefits, educational opportunities, and community programs that provide opportunities for new leaders to develop the skills we will need into the future.
Strategic workforce plans are developed every year as part of the annual business planning process to identify long range needs to ensure that we acquire, develop and retain diverse, capable talent. Eversource continuously looks for innovative ways to replenish the workforce by adapting our programs to meet business needs and build a pipeline of individuals who are technically oriented, with an interest in career advancement. The development of several unique pipeline programs in partnership with colleges and internal training has proven to be a successful strategy. Eversource has four established community college partnership programs that feed our craft roles, an Engineering Professional Development Program, two Cohort programs for Transmission and a robust intern/co-op program.
At Eversource, we strive to provide employees with access to job-related learning opportunities and leadership development programs. Our training and change management plans focus on enhancing company knowledge as well as system and technical skills to employees to continue their professional development by promoting educational opportunities.
Employee development programs are aligned to strategic workforce planning to support succession planning within all levels of the organization. Tuition assistance programs, paid internships, co-ops and other pipeline development programs ensure future workforce technical skills and competencies.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
We acknowledge the ongoing physical and emotional pain caused by racism and injustice in our society. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion (D&I) is critical to building an empowered and engaged team that delivers great customer service, racial equity, and social justice in our communities and workplaces. In 2020, we updated our D&I strategy to include a Racial Equity and Social Justice Plan, with three areas of focus: building a more inclusive workplace, increasing our leadership commitment, and further enhancing support for our diverse communities and minority suppliers.
We are a signatory to the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ pledge, demonstrating our ambition to advance diversity and inclusion in our workplace and drive accountability for progress throughout our organization. Our CEO also joined the Paradigm for Parity, a coalition comprised of business leaders, board members, and academics committed to addressing the corporate leadership gender gap. Our D&I Council and six Business Resource Groups (BRGs) actively contribute to the integration of diversity, equity and inclusion practices across all three states, promoting understanding, awareness and commitment to D&I company-wide. In 2020, we conducted listening sessions with our BRG leaders and our Multicultural BRG and formed a Racial Equity Task Force. Our employees participated in a series of town hall meetings on disrupting systemic racism led by our CEO and senior leadership. An online racial and social justice communication hub and a resource-rich tool kit were developed for leaders and employees. Unconscious bias and systemic racism education, awareness and discussion sessions were provided to leaders and business teams.
We realize that an understanding of environmental justice is an important part of our commitment to equity. We are committed to the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the implementation and application of environmental laws, regulations and policies in the context of our stewardship of the energy systems we operate.
We also know that reliable energy service is vital to public safety, community health, and the economic welfare of our customers. Our attention to reliability of the energy system often results in enhancements and repairs that could further impact environmental justice communities, even where the intended purpose of these projects and activities is a focus on reliability and growth. We maintain that these complementary goals -- reliability and justice -- can be accomplished simultaneously with benefits for all.
To intensify our focus on equity and environmental justice as core commitments of our business, we’ve named a Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Equity, who has identified and is working with a cross-functional working team dedicated to operationalizing our commitment across key business areas, including understanding where community impacts and disparities intersect with work needed to maintain a reliable energy system. This focus on equity and environmental justice will benefit all customers, especially those in underinvested and underserved communities.
Our first responsibility is to provide electricity, natural gas and water safely and reliably — the basic needs our customers depend upon. Our engaged employees are also committed to personalized and timely service, advocating for vulnerable customers, and implementing service enhancements.
Our ongoing community outreach builds relationships and provides a platform for ongoing dialogue. We are dedicated to supporting our neighbors in ensuring a vibrant future complete with protected natural resources, social equality, and a strong economy.
Our Community Relations Team serves as the primary point of contact for state and local government officials and business leaders. We partner on community priorities and leverage the full benefit of Eversource’s operational, safety and advocacy experience to support the needs of town leaders, constituents and communities. During declared emergency events, a dedicated Community Liaison is assigned to conduct proactive outreach and facilitate communications to address priorities. In 2020, we formed the new Governmental Affairs and Community Relations organization, combining extensive state and local governmental experience into one team to strengthen relationships with communities, states and key policy makers.
Sustainability is embedded into our governance processes and board-level oversight of ESG is reflected in many of the company’s financial, operational and sustainability/ESG accomplishments each year. Our risk management, long term strategy development and ethical business practices not only ensure the sustainability of our business but are critical to our commitment to providing superior customer service and supporting our communities.
Our Executive Vice President, Corporate Relations and Sustainability works with executive-level management from key ESG areas and oversees a team of employees that engages with operational and business partners to develop and manage strategic priorities, oversee GHG emission reduction initiatives, set sustainability goals and coordinate sustainability reporting. Our sustainability team meets regularly throughout the year to assess current practices and identify improvement opportunities.
Signifying the increasing importance of sustainability across the company and our earnest desire to lead our industry in ethical and responsible business practices, the Corporate Governance Committee of our Board of Trustees was renamed the Governance, Environmental and Social Responsibility Committee to reflect an expanded scope of oversight for all matters related to ESG.
All trustees, officers and employees must abide by the principles of our updated and enhanced Code of Business Conduct. Additionally, the Board has adopted policies that collectively address day-to-day activities and reflect our commitment to ethical, respectful and transparent conduct.
Eversource’s policies and practices continue to allow it to protect its cyber and operational assets. At the same time, the Board and its Committees continue to provide substantial and focused attention to cyber and system security. Comprehensive cyber security reports are provided and discussed at each meeting of the Finance Committee, which has primary responsibility for cyber and system security oversight at the Committee level. These reports are provided to all members of the Board and are discussed by the Board at the time the Finance Committee Chair reports on the Committee’s meetings. The reports focus on the changing threat landscape and the risks associated with the Company, describe cyber security drills and exercises, any attempted breaches, cyber incidents within the utility business and all over the world, and mitigation strategies, including insurance. In addition, assessments by third-party experts of cyber and physical security risks to the utility industry and the Company in particular are provided periodically.