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 also increases customers' costs more dramatically 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 legislation 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 existing coal-fired generating units to reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx). The utility also installed equipment to reduce mercury emissions on two of its coal-fired generating units — Weston 3, located near Wausau, Wisconsin, and Pulliam 8, located in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Monitoring equipment installed on these units will help us gain a better understanding of the technology needed to reduce mercury emissions at other company facilities. In addition, Wisconsin Public Service has upgraded the electrostatic precipitators at the Pulliam power plant location; electrostatic precipitators collect particulate matter, including fly ash, created by the coal combustion process.
- Recycling to help the environment and reduce costs. Recycling occurred in record amounts during construction of the Weston 4 generating unit constructed by Wisconsin Public Service. The project recycled 80% of all construction waste, including concrete, scrap metal, untreated wood, asphalt, clean fill, cardboard, drywall and plastic. The effort benefited the environment, earning the Innovative Achievement Award from WasteCap Wisconsin, and saved project costs that would otherwise have been incurred in bringing the waste to a landfill. Most of the fly ash from our coal-fired plants is recycled as well. About 59% of Integrys' desktop computers and laptops are refurbished for resale. The remainder are broken down for recycling; none of our companies' computer hardware is ever sent to a landfill.
- 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.