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Investors Ask Utilities For Water Management Transparency

Investors Ask Utilities For Water Management Transparency

Earlier this week, three major utilities agreed to significantly expand reporting and disclosure on water availability risks and plans for mitigating those risks in direct response to shareholder requests.

The negative environmental impacts of extracting and using nuclear energy, coal, oil and natural gas are well known, but few people realize that these industries require an estimated 136 billion gallons of water a day for generating and cooling the steam that drives electric turbines. This represents almost 40 percent of all freshwater withdrawals in the United States.

Water risks are already leading some utilities in drought-prone regions in the U.S. West to turn away from water-intensive coal-fired power generation.  Some power plants have been blocked from obtaining water permits as they have attempted to expand or build new coal-fired facilities.

Investors filed shareholder resolutions with Dominion, Southern and PPL several months ago asking them to evaluate and disclose their strategies for wide-ranging water risks, including low flows, thermal impacts, and emerging regulations.

Water scarcity is a growing risk to many public utilities and investors want to know how companies are preparing for increased competition for supplies, emerging regulations and potential revenue losses from shortages,” said Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres and director of the $9.5 trillion Investor Network on Climate Risk.

Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest electric generators, agreed to prepare a comprehensive “water action report,” describing its water management philosophy, water use and consumption by generation type, water discharges, and water risks in its fuel supply chain.

PPL agreed to report on the water intensity of its generation, its water resources and cooling system types and water rights of major facilities. The company will provide the information in its upcoming CSR report.

Virginia-based Dominion agreed to participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s water survey, which asks companies to report their water use and risks associated with changing water availability.

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Image Credit: Flickr - Cimm

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23 comments

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2:09AM PDT on Mar 27, 2011

Thanks for the article.

8:08AM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

buen articulo

8:08AM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

buen articulo

6:38AM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

Clean drinking water will soon become a 'gold' standard of the world. So much has been polluted by we humans in our everyday cleaning (look around your home), food production (ask the farmers or agricultural Corps. and meat producers) and used by various utilities and industries that it (clean water) is becoming rare. Combine that with increased human population, you have competition for this necessary ingredient for life that might make drilling for oil seem ridiculous and petty.

2:23AM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

it`s good that investors are taking an interest.

11:13PM PDT on Mar 25, 2011

Hey this is great - the investors put their mouth where there money is.

6:10PM PDT on Mar 25, 2011

so overwhelmed by this issue, unless someone can come up with "which spice to sprinkle on sand, to insure human consumption of what could be left of anything to consume, which sustains human life in the future..."and all living beings...Do not give up, as it is so critical for all of our futures! Thankyou.

6:09PM PDT on Mar 25, 2011

so overwhelmed by this issue, unless someone can come up with "which spice to sprinkle on sand, to insure human consumption of what could be left of anything to consume, which sustains human life in the future..."and all living beings...Do not give up, as it is so critical for all of our futures! Thankyou.

4:11PM PDT on Mar 25, 2011

Should utilities disclose their water management plans? We shouldn't even have to ask these types of questions, but we do because somewhere along the way of life businesses decided to have no ethics.

3:45PM PDT on Mar 25, 2011

Clean water is much more important to us than food! This is a vital resource for life!

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