Shareholders Press FirstEnergy Corporation to Come Clean on Coal Ash
Ohio utility pressed to increase transparency and reduce potential risk to shareowners
May 17, 2011 – Today, FirstEnergy Corporation* (FirstEnergy) shareholders will vote on a proposal asking the company to report on its efforts to reduce the environmental and health hazards of coal ash stored in ponds, landfills and mines. The proposal was filed by Green Century Capital Management (Green Century), an environmentally responsible investment advisory firm, and the Adrian Dominican Sisters, an international congregation of approximately 800 vowed religious women with over 30 years of commitment to, and practice of, socially responsible investing (SRI).
“Over half of FirstEnergy’s generation capacity comes from burning coal, yet the company fails to provide investors meaningful information about how it prevents harmful environmental impacts and mitigates coal ash-related risks,” said Christopher Matthias, of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Coal ash is a byproduct of coal-fired power plants that contains arsenic, mercury, lead, and other toxins left after combustion or filtered out of smokestack scrubbers. The health, environmental, and financial risks of managing coal ash came to light in December 2008 when a dam holding back a 1.1 billion gallon coal ash pond belonging to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) burst and covered over 300 acres with toxic sludge. TVA has estimated spill-related costs at $1.2 billion and has been the target of over 50 lawsuits since the spill.
Investors should be particularly concerned about FirstEnergy’s operations at the Bruce Mansfield plant and its Little Blue Run dam which is 400 feet tall and covers a surface area of 967 acres. Every day, up to 3.2 million gallons of coal ash waste is sent to the Little Blue Run Dam facility.
“FirstEnergy’s ash storage practices at the Little Blue Run dam expose the company to significant financial and regulatory risks due to environmental and health hazards caused by coal ash,” said Larisa Ruoff, Director of Shareholder Advocacy for Green Century. “At the same time, FirstEnergy’s public disclosure on this issue is insufficient. The company does not provide information on the efforts it is taking to reduce environmental and health hazards associated with the coal ash it produces. As a result, investors cannot make informed decisions regarding to whether the company is adequately managing coal ash related risks,” she continued.
Last month, shareholders in Ameren Corporation* voted on a similar proposal where over half** of the shares voted supported the resolution calling for increased transparency and accountability. Later this month, shareholders at Southern Company* will have the opportunity to vote on the subject as well.
Green Century Capital Management is an investment advisory firm focused on environmentally responsible investing. Founded by a partnership of non-profit environmental advocacy organizations in 1991, Green Century's mission is to provide people who care about a clean, healthy planet the opportunity to use the clout of their investment dollars to encourage environmentally responsible corporate behavior. Green Century believes that shareholder advocacy is a critical component of responsible investing and actively advocates for greater corporate environmental accountability.
The Adrian Dominican Sisters, established in the 1880s, is a congregation of approximately 800 vowed religious women based in the Adrian, Michigan. They have over 30 years of commitment to, and practice of, socially responsible investing (SRI).Their commitment incorporates two aspects of SRI: institutional investing in the major stock markets according to criteria, including shareholder advocacy on corporate social responsibility (CSR); and investing in non-profit community-based organizations engaged in community (re)investment. Both aspects of the Adrian Dominicans’ SRI history are rooted in and guided by the Catholic Social Justice tradition. Both endeavors are guided with fiduciary and financial expertise, with expectation of financial return.
*As of March 31, 2011, the Green Century Balanced Fund and the Green Century Equity Fund did not hold FirstEnergy Corporation, Ameren Corporation or Southern Company. Please refer to the Green Century Funds website for current information regarding the Funds' portfolio holdings. These holdings are subject to risk as described in the Funds' prospectus. References to specific investments should not be construed as a recommendation of the securities by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.
** The percentage in favor was calculated by (i) dividing the number of votes in support of the proposal by (ii) the sum of the number of votes voted in support of and against the proposal. Abstentions and broker non-votes were not included in the calculation.
You should consider the Funds' investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. To obtain a Summary Prospectus and/or Prospectus that contains this and other information about the Funds, please click here, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1-800-93-GREEN. Please read the Summary Prospectus and/or Prospectus carefully before investing.
The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC. 5/11
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