EPRI Releases Sustainability Priorities For North American Power Sector

(Credit: Electric Power Research Institute)

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a leading think tank for the power sector, has published its 2021 list of sustainability priorities for the North American power sector, based on extensive research conducted in 2020 with U.S. and Canadian stakeholders.

Sustainability priorities, often referred to as sustainability materiality issues, are important for companies to guide their sustainability strategic planning processes, stakeholder engagement efforts and corporate reporting. A material sustainability issue is “an economic, environmental, or social issue on which a company has an impact, or may be impacted by,” according to New York University, and may also affect stakeholders’ decisions with respect to the company. Currently, there is no formal or mandated monetary threshold applied to determine what is, or is not, considered material in the sustainability context. Many companies, especially large publicly traded ones, identify their own unique set of sustainability priorities on a regular basis, and include them in their sustainability reports and related disclosures.

Last completed in 2017, EPRI’s refreshed list of sustainability priorities were developed through a 3-phased research process:

  • Literature review: 56 sources reviewed to create an initial comprehensive list of priorities;
  • Expert validation: 67 sustainability experts and other industry stakeholders provided feedback and comments to help refine the initial list;
  • Quantification: 129 respondents completed a survey to help quantify the impact and performance of power companies on the list of priorities, as well as the impact of the priorities on the electric power sector. 

The 2021 list of sustainability priorities — “economic, environmental and social factors that have the potential to influence the long-term value creation of an electric power company and their stakeholders” — include the following, half of which are focused on environment and energy issues:

  1. Air Quality
  2. Climate Change
  3. Community Vitality
  4. Customer Engagement
  5. Cyber and Physical Security
  6. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  7. Energy Affordability
  8. Energy Portfolio Diversity
  9. Energy Reliability and Resiliency
  10. Financial Health
  11. Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  12. Habitat and Biodiversity
  13. Low Carbon Transition
  14. Public Policy Engagement
  15. Safety and Health
  16. Stakeholder Relationships
  17. Supply Chain
  18. Waste
  19. Water
  20. Workforce Development

Additionally, and new for the 2021 assessment, EPRI identified Governance, Innovation, and Risk Management as key sustainability management elements, as well as Circular Economy, Human Rights and Just Transition as emerging sustainability priorities.

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–> This post appeared first on Environment + Energy Leader.

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