NRG's Vision and the Journey Ahead
While this is NRG’s sixth sustainability report, it is my first as CEO. So, I want to take this opportunity to reflect on the profound impact that our industry and our company can have on people’s lives and the central role that sustainability plays in allowing us to achieve that in a meaningful way. (You can read the full sustainability report here.)
Sustainability at NRG today
It is not a stretch to say that electricity is the lifeblood of the modern world. It runs through the veins of every aspect of our society, providing us comfort in the dead of winter, empowering science and the arts and enabling those we serve to enjoy life that much more. No other commodity affects people’s lives so profoundly, and this is what drives our quest for a more sustainable energy future.
Inherently, our business works day after day to meet this critical societal need. As one of the largest and most diversified power companies in the country, we play a crucial role in developing this future and can make the greatest impact by focusing on what we do best: safely provide reliable and cleaner energy in a way that creates value for all stakeholders. In doing so, we must place sustainability at the center of all our decisions, creating a framework that balances environmental, economic and social responsibilities – a framework that ensures our actions today achieve our vision for tomorrow.
The most significant challenge of our generation is the fight against climate change, and 2015 stood out as a pivotal year: Pope Francis released his environmental encyclical; the U.S. federal government issued the Clean Power Plan in an attempt to drastically curb carbon emissions from power plants; and the United Nations held its 21st Conference of Parties where governments, public interest groups and corporations took a united stand against greenhouse gas emissions. NRG was an active participant in this dynamic landscape. Present on the ground in Paris to demonstrate industry leadership, we supported the We Mean Business Coalition and joined 154 companies in signing the American Business Act on Climate Pledge.
As we continue our own transformation, I want to reaffirm our goals to reduce carbon emissions 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050. These goals remain some of the industry’s most aggressive and substantive, placing us at the forefront of sustainability efforts across the country.
For years, we at NRG have taken pride in our environmental practices. Beyond being mindful of our own operations, we help our customers achieve their own sustainability goals through clean energy and retail options. A few highlights from 2015 include commencing construction on the largest community solar project in the U.S., converting three large coal-fired power plants to natural gas and developing several energy storage and preferred resources projects in California, adding to our status as one of the state’s largest providers of clean energy solutions.
As we plan for the future, we must be disciplined with our resources, flexible in our thinking and flawless in our execution. More than ever, our ability to adapt and endure is fundamental to our success, and over the past year we took important steps to better align our business to the markets in which we operate. Among these was the establishment of a partnership in our electric vehicle charging business and the streamlining of our operations and organization. I am confident that our integrated competitive power platform is now well-positioned to succeed both under near-term conditions and under longer-term market trends, allowing us to continue providing power to millions of customers and homes throughout the country.
To be sustainable also means enhancing the lives of our colleagues and the communities we serve. Across the country, we strive for safety, wellness and to create trusting, transparent relationships among our employees. Our philanthropic arm, Global Giving, which will be known as PositiveNRG going forward, supports well over 100 initiatives across the country focused on education, the environment, human welfare and economic development by partnering with organizations suggested directly by our employees.
We also encourage each other to adopt sustainable living practices, both large and small, through programs such as InspireMEnrg and Power up my life, which unite us in a culture of conservation and overall well-being.
The journey ahead
I am excited by all the steps we have taken to date, but I am even more excited about what we can achieve in the future.
I know that my colleagues at NRG understand the great responsibility of our work. We are up for the challenge but recognize that we cannot get there alone. Our partners and customers have been instrumental in helping us reach so many important milestones to date, and I believe that long-term, impactful change requires the continued leadership and commitment of these stakeholders. With their support and partnership, NRG will continue to be a leader in moving our industry forward.
NRG is already leading by example on transparent and voluntary reporting practices. Stakeholders appreciate a set of metrics that extends beyond financial indicators and addresses social, environmental and human-capital objectives while explaining our business and longer-term goals. As we continue to improve our transparency, we recognize that 21st-century companies should be responsive to their stakeholders by providing these metrics, and it is our hope that others in our industry will follow suit.
The commitments reflected by NRG in this report are personal to me. Energy has always been a passion of mine, not for what it is, but for what it represents: a better life. I am constantly reminded of the importance of what we do and the great responsibility we have to think not just about the impacts of our business today, but also about how those impacts will affect tomorrow. I invite you – colleagues, investors, customers, partners and all consumers of electricity – to join us in this journey toward creating an energy future that is cleaner, more reliable and that enables us to continue improving people’s lives for years to come.
Chief Executive Officer
Mauricio Gutierrez is President and CEO of NRG. Mauricio joined NRG in 2004 and helped build it from a regional wholesale generation business to a national, Fortune 200 diversified energy company. NRG...