If this were any other year, I would start this message by stating that 2019 was Eversource Energy’s best year in our history. I would share that we posted strong operational and financial performance and excellent returns for investors, while embracing and defining our growing role as a catalyst for clean energy. While this is all true, we currently face a world undergoing a public health crisis, and a nation working through a social equality crisis. It is clear that we are operating under circumstances that could not be described as “business as usual.”
It seems more appropriate, therefore, to address how the many steps we have taken to create a sustainable company have allowed Eversource, throughout the pandemic and social unrest, to show leadership and excellence on many different fronts.
Since the onset of the pandemic in the United States, our electric, natural gas and water delivery systems have operated smoothly and without incident. Even in these unsettled circumstances, we are serving the needs of our 4 million customers and maintaining safe, reliable service. That’s a testament to the training, expertise and professionalism of our employees to support our operations and uphold Eversource’s reputation as a provider our communities are counting on under these extraordinary circumstances.
We are fortunate to be an organization that has strong practices and procedures for crisis management, as well as extensive experience working through storms and other disruptions. This experience has served us well as we deal with a unique challenge that has upended daily life.
We moved quickly to protect our employees and enabled many of them to work from home and enhanced our already extensive programs and services to support them. We also created social distancing protocols and other workarounds to ensure the safety of our employees who work in the field. And, we supported our customers by pledging to keep electricity, water and natural gas flowing regardless of their ability to pay — waiving late fees, suspending shutoffs and providing flexible payment options.
We went further. In recognition of the immediate impact of the pandemic on the communities we serve, we donated more than $2 million through the Eversource Foundation to nonprofit organizations in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. These funds included our regular $1.2 million annual donation to United Way agencies across all three states and an additional $1 million to be dispersed to those and other agencies providing social services such as food pantries and health and human service organizations. We also created a special hotline and a support team to help small business owners apply for assistance through the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Despite the significant changes as a result of the pandemic, our performance remains strong on key operating metrics such as safety, reliability, gas emergency response, call answer rate and estimated time of restoration accuracy, to name a few.
As a company, we acknowledge the ongoing pain caused by racism and injustice in our society. Eversource and our employees support many programs and agencies that address racial and ethnic disparities in our own communities and beyond. We are also working to develop a workforce that fully reflects the diversity of the people and communities we serve.
Our hiring practices emphasize diversity and we encourage employees to embrace different people, perspectives and experiences in our workplace and within our communities — no matter their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or other personal qualities. In 2020, 40 percent of our internal leadership promotions will be women or diverse candidates, and more than 50 percent of all new external hires will be women and diverse candidates. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is critical to building an empowered and engaged team that delivers great service safely to our customers. We must tap into the talent, unique perspectives, and cultural and life experiences of every employee to ensure our continued success.
One of the many ways we amplify our core social messages is through our business resource groups (BRGs). These popular, well-resourced social groups, open to every employee, have executive sponsorship at the highest levels of the company. Eversource has six BRGs currently in action: Multicultural, New Hire, Pride & Allies, Veterans, Women’s, and Young Professionals.
Our Future is Clean Energy
I am proud to report that, because of the many steps we have taken to achieve a high level of sustainability and support for our employees and our communities, we have continued through these unsettled times to make significant progress on our commitment to carbon neutrality and initiatives that support the clean energy vision that our customers, investors, regulators and legislators have identified as a priority.
Through our partnership with Ørsted, we are one of the nation’s leading offshore wind developers, with approved contracts for about 1,700 megawatts, including a contract signed in 2019 to provide 880 megawatts to New York electric consumers for 25 years. We are advancing innovative energy storage projects for our customers. Our utility-owned solar installations are in service and producing renewable energy for the region. And we are tripling the number of electric vehicle charging stations in Massachusetts through a $45 million investment in infrastructure. We unveiled our plan to be carbon neutral by 2030, the only US energy utility with such an ambitious goal. It is consistent with our strategy of being the catalyst for clean energy development in New England and another way we can lead by example on climate action.
Eversource is paving the way to a sustainable and prosperous future in the states we serve. We are proud to be a catalyst for clean energy, and I thank our 8,300 employees for their hard work and commitment to our customers and communities.
- James J. Judge
Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer