Balancing Environmental & Economic Interests
Society's need for energy is rising. Using cleaner or renewable technology to produce this energy is good for the environment. It can also increase customers' costs more than traditional technology. At Integrys Energy Group's companies, we're working to balance concern for the environment with our customers' ability to afford the energy they need.
The Integrys Viewpoint
Integrys Energy Group recognizes the value of a healthy environment and a healthy economy. Balancing these interests for our stakeholders is a continuing focus for Integrys' companies.
- We are responsible to many stakeholders — customers, employees, communities and shareholders. We are accountable to each of these groups as we fulfill our mission to "provide customers with the best value in energy and related services." Our customers are why we're here; we must provide them with safe, reliable energy at a reasonable cost. Our employees are the lifeblood of our company; we need to provide them with stable employment in a company that shares their values. The communities we serve are the places where we live; we want to help build healthy communities where our employees are proud to work for Integrys companies. Our shareholders are our owners; they have invested in making Integrys a stable company, and they expect a return for their investment. With all of these responsibilities, balance becomes critical: we are committed to protecting the environment while providing energy at a cost that promotes economic growth.
- Environmental and economic interests are aligned when environmental regulation allows flexible, cost-effective and market-based approaches to achieving desired environmental results. This approach has been demonstrated by the Acid Rain Program. The program has been highly successful, achieving significant reductions in SO2 emissions.
- Time and market demands will create affordable, sustainable solutions. To move toward cleaner energy production, energy companies need a portfolio of clean energy technologies to choose from, and time for those technologies to be developed and enter the marketplace. Environmental regulation should be based on sound, commercially available control technologies that do not put customers and investors at risk of incurring unnecessary or unexpected costs.
Integrys Energy Group's companies address the balance between cost and the environment in daily business decisions.
- Installing environmental controls at Wisconsin Public Service facilities. Wisconsin Public Service's newest unit, Weston Unit 4, was constructed with multiple pollution control systems. The utility has also installed equipment on all of its other coal-fired generating units to reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and to reduce mercury emissions on three of its coal-fired generating units — Weston 3, located near Wausau, Wisconsin, and Pulliam Units 7 and 8, located in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Another example is the ReACT system being installed at Weston 3 and projected to be in operational in 2016. The ReACT system will further reduce emissions of SO2, NOx and Mercury. Finally, the utility has announced plans to retire three of its older and smaller units where the cost of installing additional controls exceeds the value to our customers.
- Recycling and reusing to help the environment and reduce costs. In the course of serving customers, we continually look for ways to reduce our impact on the environment. This includes choosing materials wisely and reusing them. It also means recycling whenever possible — everything from paper and cardboard to metals, plastic, glass and wood pallets. Our efforts are saving energy, water and trees, preserving landfill space, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We find environmentally safe and economically sound alternatives to waste disposal for obsolete and surplus material and equipment.
- Replacing cast-iron gas main with plastic gas main. Plastic gas main is better for the environment and for a reliable natural gas system. In Illinois, Peoples Gas and North Shore gas are replacing about 100 miles of cast-iron gas main per year. At our other utilities, plastic main is already the norm.
- Encouraging energy efficiency and conservation in our own operations. All Integrys employees are encouraged to be as energy-efficient as possible. They're also looking for ways to improve the efficiency of their work and processes, which reduces costs. These internal efforts contribute to keeping customers' rates as low as possible.
- Encouraging our customers to be energy-efficient and to conserve. All of our companies provide tools and advice so customers can be energy-efficient and conserve natural resources. Using less energy is the best way for customers to control their own energy bill.