#ESG – NJ Utility PSEG announces two new environmental commitments and issues 2021 Sustainability Report

Local utility Public Service Enterprise Group (“PSEG”) announced earlier today, October 15, 2021, that it has joined The Race to Zero and Business Ambition for 1.5°C, two campaigns that use science-based targets to aid the fight against climate change.

The Race to Zero and Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaigns are designed to help mobilize support from businesses, cities, regions and investors for a healthy and resilient zero-carbon economy, in line with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

PSEG’s also issued its 2021 Sustainability and Climate Report, which updates the company’s achievements and goals for a wide range of topics, including air emissions, energy efficiency, transportation and waste minimization.

PSEG Chairman and CEO Ralph Izzo said “Climate change is one of the preeminent challenges of our time, and PSEG has an obligation to help address climate change and its effect on our environment, our customers and communities around the world.”

Their Report showed PSEG’s generation portfolio emission rates for NOx and SO2 were down year-over-year by 58% and 77%, respectively, reflecting emission rates that are significantly below industry averages.

The Report also provides updates on PSEG’s progress across a range of sustainability categories, including:

  • Energy efficiency: PSEG’s energy efficiency targets have been updated and remain on track. New Jersey regulators approved $1 billion of energy efficiency spend for the three-year programs, designed to help the state achieve its updated framework for energy efficiency and peak demand reduction programs, setting five-year savings targets of 2% for electric distribution and 0.75% for gas distribution companies. PSEG’s targets are aligned with New Jersey’s Clean Energy Act (2018), which calls for these savings to be achieved by 2023.
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  • Transportation: PSEG aims to reduce fossil fuel use in its own transportation fleet through vehicle electrification, rightsizing the fleet and utilizing renewable fuels. By 2030, PSEG aims to convert its passenger vehicles, such as sedans and SUVs, 60% of medium-duty vehicles and 90% of heavy-duty vehicles to battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids or anti-idle jobsite work systems.
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  • Waste minimization: Companywide, waste and recycling programs successfully diverted 95.5% of material from landfills in 2020. The ongoing goal for its utility, PSEG to focus on new waste streams for recycling, which will continue to decrease landfill tonnage. The waste minimization goal for PSEG is to divert in excess of 95% of material from landfills.
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  • Air emissions: PSEG is reducing air and other emissions by updating its operations and transitioning to cleaner sources of energy, and, per their Report, already has one of the lowest emissions rates among investor-owned power producers, according to MJ Bradley’s Benchmarking Air Emissions report, July 2021. As of 2020, PSEG has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 54% since 2005 through switching to lower-carbon fuels, improving energy efficiency and modernizing its electricity and natural gas networks, among other strategies.
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  • Biodiversity: PSEG is committed to promoting and enhancing biodiversity through natural resource conservation while continuing to operate in a safe and reliable manner. PSEG established the Estuary Enhancement Program in 1994. Protection of natural resources and biodiversity informs their environmental philosophy and the planning process considers the potential impacts on regional biodiversity.
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  • Diversity, equity and inclusion: PSEG has a target of 30% of total applicable spending allocated to diverse suppliers, including minority-, women-, veteran- and LGBTQ+-owned suppliers. During 2020, PSEG had a sixth consecutive record-setting year by buying more than $644 million worth of goods and services from diverse suppliers, a 15% increase over 2019. More than 28% of the company’s purchases were with diverse vendors. And PSEG is helping develop New Jersey’s clean energy workforce through innovative training and development programs, emphasizing low- to moderate-income and underrepresented communities.
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  • Environmental justice: According to the Report, PSEG is developing an environmental justice commitment in support of the many diverse communities it serves across the region and believes such a commitment should convey the importance of centering environmental justice considerations across the organization so that customers — especially those in underrepresented communities — can benefit from the coming changes of a decarbonized future.

Triple Bottom Line – PSEG is one of a growing number of public utilities that have pivoted and started to embrace climate goals and climate change as being critical to their future success.  While not all utilities are aligned this way, many are beginning to take real steps to make change in this regard.  Much still to do for sure but good, solid, accountable and reportable steps in the sustainability and ESG arenas.  Kudos for the effort and the transparency. 

Duane Morris has an active ESG and Sustainability Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and execute on Sustainability and ESG planning and initiatives within their own space. We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you. For more information, or if you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Nanette Heide, Darrick Mix, Jolie-Anne S. Ansley, David Amerikaner, Christiane Campbell, Sheila Slocum-Hollis, Vijay Bange, Stephen Nichol, or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Governor Murphy Selects 20 Member NJ Council on the Green Economy

Early today, February 25, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy announced his 20 picks to the newly created NJ Council on the Green Economy (“NJCOGE“). 

This Council on the Green Economy and the umbrella organization of the Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy are focused on “building a roadmap for transitioning the workforce into high-quality, family-sustaining clean energy jobs that will provide opportunities for all New Jerseyans” per Governor Murphy.

As announced in the 2021 budget discussions, various state leaders believe that NJ’s recovery from the pandemic will be partly driven by the clean energy economy – one centered around clean power sources and offshore wind and on shore solar.

Governor Murphy’s $44.8 billion plan discussed in his Budget Address on February 23rd calls for $200 million to be invested in an “offshore wind port” in Camden County along the Delaware River. This wind port is intended to serve as a staging area for supply chains related to the growing wind industry and provide a place to ship wind turbines across the country.

Separately, NJ is enjoying a bit of a renaissance in the solar installation arena given its current TREC program.

The 20-members of the NJ COGE are:

Honorary Chair: First Lady Tammy Murphy
Executive Director: Jane Cohen, executive director, Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy
Co-Chair: Shawn LaTourette, acting commissioner, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Co-Chair: Robert Asaro-Angelo, commissioner, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Co-Chair: Joseph Fiordaliso, president, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
Donnel Baird, founder, BlocPower
Tom Churchelow, president, New Jersey Utilities Association
Francisco Cortes, president, NJ State Veterans Chamber of Commerce and Corporate Advisory Board Member of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce New Jersey
Dave Daly, president, PSE&G
Kim Gaddy, environmental justice organizer, Clean Water Action
Aisha Glover, vice president of urban innovation, Audible
Lisa Jackson, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator and vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives, Apple
Sean Jackson, chief executive officer, Isles
Andrea Jung, president and chief executive officer, Grameen America
John Kennedy, chief executive officer, New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program
Kevin Lyons, associate professor of supply chain archaeology, Rutgers University
Debra Coyle McFadden, executive director, New Jersey Work Environment Council
Bill Mullen, president, New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council
Alli Gold Roberts, director of state policy, Ceres
Charlie Wowkanech, president, AFL-CIO

The goal of the NJ COGE will be to provide sustainable energy career options for thousands of NJ workers.

Just this past September, Governor Murphy signed a first of its kind “environmental justice” bill which will focus resources and attention environmentally on many lower-income, minority neighborhoods long plagued by some of the worst pollution in the state according to NJ BIZ.

That measure requires large-scale projects – whether new construction or an expansion to an existing building – that produces heavy pollution in lower-income, typically African American and Latino communities, to report on and consider the local impact.

Duane Morris has an active ESG and Sustainability Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and execute on Sustainability and ESG planning and initiatives within their own space.  We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you.  Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky,  (bamolotsky@duanemorris.com), Seth Cooley, Lori Mills, David Amerikaner or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.