New Sustainalytics' Report Offers Insight Into the ESG Investment Risks and Opportunities for the Utilities Sector

4/13/2015, 2:30 PM (Source: GlobeNewswire)

With Traditional Business Models Under Pressure, Leading ESG Issues Are in Focus for Utilities Companies

TORONTO, Apr. 13, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Sustainalytics, a leading provider of environmental, social and governance (ESG) research and analysis, today released a new sector research report titled, "Utilities-The Great Transformation Begins," which examines through an ESG lens the investment risks and opportunities of 234 public and non-public utilities companies. The utilities industry is confronted with a variety of systemic challenges, including weakening electricity demand, shifting consumer expectations and an influx of homegrown electricity, which are threatening the traditional business model of providing electricity from large central power plants.

ESG issues, such as climate change, carbon regulation, water scarcity and community relations, have become boardroom issues for utilities companies as they strive to meet growing demands for sustainable products. Sustainalytics' analysis can help investors identify companies that are well positioned to navigate the industry's sweeping market and regulatory changes. The research focuses on the most material ESG issues for the utilities sector, which include:

  • Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions and Effluents and Waste: Utilities companies are responsible for 31 percent of total global GHG emissions and many companies are likely to struggle under tightening carbon constraints.
  • Community Relations: Community opposition to power plants and infrastructure projects remains strong, yet advanced stakeholder engagement programs are lacking across the sector.
  • Product Sustainability: The global installed capacity for grid-connected solar panels increased by 338 percent from 2009-2012, illustrating the simultaneous threat and opportunity posed by solar for utility incumbents.

"While management at most developed market utilities companies is aware of the challenges facing the sector, there is no consensus among industry leaders about what the modern utility will look like," said Sustainalytics' Managing Director of Thematic Research Dr. Hendrik Garz. "The transformation of the industry will have dramatic implications on the competitiveness of industry players, and investors should understand how their portfolio holdings may be exposed."

Sustainalytics' research shows the top developed market performers are Terna, the Rome-based electricity grid operator, and Acciona, the Spanish renewable energy leader. The top emerging markets-based performers are concentrated in Brazil, and include many of the country's large hydroelectric producers.

On Thursday, April 16 at 10:00 a.m. EDT/4:00 p.m. CEST, Sustainalytics will host a webinar to present the findings from its Utilities Sector report. To register for the webinar, please click here. To download an executive summary of the report, please click here.

About Sustainalytics

Headquartered in Amsterdam, Sustainalytics is an independent ESG research and analysis firm supporting investors around the world with the development and implementation of responsible investment strategies. With 13 offices globally, Sustainalytics partners with institutional investors who integrate environmental, social and governance information and assessments into their investment decisions. Today, the firm has over 200 staff members, including more than 120 analysts with varied multidisciplinary expertise of more than 40 industries. For the past three years, Sustainalytics was voted best independent responsible investment research firm in Extel's IRRI survey. For more information, visit

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Source: Sustainalytics via Globenewswire

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