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Business & Money

Investors are asking utilities questions about environmental and social risks. Answers can be a challenge.
Fortnightly Magazine - June 2004

have more of an effect than others. We ask why, and work to improve accordingly."

The exercise seems to make companies more forward-thinking in their plans, in part because executives begin to recognize the advantages of being ahead of the curve. APS, for example, is undertaking voluntary emissions-reduction pilot programs at some of its power plants. "These projects will result in significant reductions of SO 2, NO X and mercury many years before regulation would require it," Fox says. "The reason we are doing this is that we know emissions reductions are inevitable in our industry, and we'd rather do them early and control our own operations, rather than wait and be mandated to do so on a timetable that is not of our choosing."

Such decisions are motivated by strategic, economic judgments, and ultimately will bring value to investors. "Having done this report has forced us to start thinking and planning in terms of sustainability," Carrasquillo says. "Internally we evaluate the data that we are capturing, and consider what we can actively start to improve that [which]will bring the highest impact to stakeholders."

Thus sustainability reporting may produce benefits that come full circle-satisfying the demands of shareholders, improving the company's performance on environmental and social factors, and ultimately increasing value for investors.


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