Con Edison Sustainability Report: Clean Energy, Climate Resiliency Key to Building Lasting Value
Con Edison issued its annual Sustainability Report today, highlighting the company’s strong progress and future plans in areas like electric vehicles, renewables and new transmission lines to deliver green power. The report also details the extraordinary steps the company has taken to protect the public and its workers during the pandemic.
Over the past year, Con Edison made progress toward fulfilling its Clean Energy Commitment, and detailed its plans for ensuring its energy-delivery systems remain resilient in the face of climate change. The company recently won approval to build transmission lines that will ultimately help bring offshore wind into New York City, and announced plans for a large battery storage plant in Astoria, Queens.
“The past year brought unprecedented challenges: a pandemic that took more than 600,000 American lives, including some of our colleagues; renewed calls for racial justice that have compelled us to look inward and do even more; and extreme weather events that tested our ability to keep power flowing to the 10 million people who depend on us,” said Con Edison CEO Timothy Cawley.
“I’m proud of our response to each of these challenges. At the height of the pandemic, our employees helped build Covid testing centers, provided power for medical sites, and built face shields that were donated to frontline healthcare workers,” Cawley said. “Con Edison’s future will be built around clean energy, a diverse and inclusive workforce, and sustainable communities that will thrive in the decades ahead.”
The Climate Challenge
The transition toward clean energy is unfolding against a backdrop of intensifying climate change that poses new risks for energy-system operators. In December, Con Edison released its Climate Change Implementation Plan, which will help prepare the company’s energy-delivery systems for the upper end of potential climate change – beyond the goals set out in the Paris Agreement.
Con Edison has already started using its climate-change projections for decision-making and planning purposes, and established a new executive-level committee focused on climate risk and resilience.
The company has committed to supplying its customers with 100 percent clean electricity by 2040. It has lowered its own carbon emissions by more than half since 2005, and supports New York’s aggressive goals for climate change, clean energy and electric vehicles.
Renewable Energy, Big and Small
The Sustainability Report underscores the huge opportunities for Con Edison and its customers as the country moves to decarbonize its energy sector.
Through its Clean Energy Businesses, Con Edison is already the second-largest generator of solar power in North America and the seventh largest worldwide. The company owns more than 2,800 megawatts of solar and wind projects in 20 states, with another 400 megawatts under construction. Con Edison invested $600 million in large-scale renewables in 2020, and intends to continue growing this side of its business.
Closer to home, the company is supporting smaller, distributed solar and battery projects within its own service territory. To date, Con Edison’s customers have installed more than 48,000 solar systems, with a collective generation capacity of more than 500 megawatts.
Paving the Way for Electric Vehicles in NYC
With around 30 percent of New York City’s carbon emissions coming from the transportation sector, Con Edison is helping to lay the groundwork for the coming surge in electric vehicles that will be increasingly fueled by renewable energy.
Through its PowerReady program, Con Edison’s utilities are investing more than $310 million by 2025 to incent the connection of thousands of new EV charging stations. PowerReady is the second largest such incentive program in the country, and will enable deployment of more than 21,000 Level 2 plugs and 525 DC fast chargers. The first PowerReady project was recently completed in Midtown Manhattan.
Meanwhile, Con Edison is working with the NYC Department of Transportation to install 120 curbside Level 2 charging ports across the city as part of a pilot program. Increasingly convenient access to charging at the curb will give confidence to New Yorkers considering buying an electric vehicle, helping the state to meet its EV goals.
Smart Meters and Energy-Efficient Buildings
The Sustainability Report describes Con Edison’s ongoing rollout of 5 million smart meters across its service territory. Smart meters bring myriad benefits, including customer bill savings, better data and more transparency around energy use, and faster restoration times following outages. The $1.4 billion rollout is more than 80 percent complete, and set for completion in 2022.
At the same time, Con Edison is investing $1.5 billion in energy efficiency improvements by 2025, helping customers save money, reduce emissions and create buildings that are more attractive places to live and work. Efficiency upgrades also help slow energy demand growth as the modern world increasingly depends on electricity.
Con Edison has successfully issued Green Bonds in 2020 and 2021, addressing a rising demand for clean-energy investments. The approximately $2.375 billion of proceeds were used primarily to support Con Edison’s smart meter and energy-efficiency programs.
Driving the Green Energy ‘Superhighway’
Con Edison is helping to build a green energy transmission “superhighway” for New York, needed to bring renewable energy to consumers.
In addition to projects upstate, the company recently got a green light to invest $780 million in three electric transmission projects in NYC. The Reliable Clean City projects will facilitate the retirement of fossil-fuel powered “peaking” generation units, bringing air-quality benefits to environmental justice communities, and will help to deliver offshore wind.
Con Edison does not consider its remaining natural gas transmission assets core to its business, and will not be making further investments in this area. The company recently announced the sale of its stake in Stagecoach Gas Services, an owner of gas pipeline and storage facilities.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Con Edison recently won recognition for its efforts to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into its policies and practices. Still, CEO Cawley said that efforts must continue at all levels – including the top, where executive compensation is now tied to diversity goals.
Consolidated Edison, Inc. is one of the nation's largest investor-owned energy-delivery companies, with approximately $12 billion in annual revenues and $62 billion in assets. The company provides a wide range of energy-related products and services to its customers through the following subsidiaries: Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. (CECONY), a regulated utility providing electric service in New York City and New York’s Westchester County, gas service in Manhattan, the Bronx, parts of Queens and parts of Westchester, and steam service in Manhattan; Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. (O&R), a regulated utility serving customers in a 1,300-square-mile-area in southeastern New York State and northern New Jersey; Con Edison Clean Energy Businesses, Inc., the second-largest solar developer in the United States and the seventh-largest worldwide, which, through its subsidiaries develops, owns and operates renewable and sustainable energy infrastructure projects and provides energy-related products and services to wholesale and retail customers; and Con Edison Transmission, Inc., which falls primarily under the oversight of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and through its subsidiaries invests in electric transmission projects supporting its parent company’s effort to transition to clean, renewable energy. Con Edison Transmission manages, through joint ventures, both electric and gas assets while seeking to develop electric transmission projects that will bring clean, renewable electricity to customers, focusing on New York, New England, the Mid-Atlantic states and the Midwest.