U.S. Utility Execs Concede Need for More Innovation (or Better Messaging) FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Glen Boshart for SNL:Top officials with the Edison Electric Institute wrapped up the group’s annual convention June 15 in Chicago by discussing what they must do to prosper in a rapidly changing industry environment.Tom Fanning, EEI’s newly elected chairman who also serves as chairman, president & CEO of Southern Co.: “We are innovative, we are in the customer interest, we are constantly looking for ways to create the future,” Fanning maintained, suggesting that the problem has been more one of messaging.Christopher Crane, president and CEO of Exelon Corp. and EEI vice chairman sees storage as something utilities need to embrace by working with the labs and universities “to help advance that along.”But the officials acknowledged that the traditional utility culture may be holding them back. Patricia Vincent-Collawn, chairman, president & CEO of PNM Resources Inc. and EEI vice chairman, stressed the need for utilities to hire people from the younger generation who are more adept at using new technologies in innovative ways.“You have to walk the talk, you have to bring in people from the outside, you have to protect them from the internal immune system of the utility” that wants to quickly “kill off anything that’s different,” Vincent-Collawn said.Picking up on that theme, Fanning noted that the culture and employees at his company can be represented by a pie chart, only a tiny slice of which is composed of “the revolutionaries, the creative disruptors.”“The people in the big pie slice want to murder the people in the little pie slice,” Fanning acknowledged. Thus, he said companies need to keep from living on their past successes and instead embrace innovation and new technology.Full article ($): EI officials debate how to keep up with rapidly changing times
Opperman was writing to the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee, which is carrying out an inquiry into green finance. As part of this the committee is trying to develop an understanding of the approach UK pension funds are taking to environmental risks and, more generally, green finance. The UK government is considering requiring pension scheme trustees to have a policy for climate change, it revealed in a letter to a group of parliamentarians.Corporate governance is another area for which trustees could be required to have a specific policy.The requirements are one of several options for policy and regulation the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) is considering seeking feedback on in an upcoming consultation on pension funds and investments related to social or environmental considerations.The government had already committed to such a consultation in its response to a Law Commission report on pensions funds and social investment last year but the letter from Guy Opperman, pensions minister, revealed more about its thinking about what to consult on. Source: Chis McAndrewGuy Opperman, pensions minister, responded to questions from the Environmental Audit Committee in a letterAccording to the letter from Opperman, other options the government is considering consulting on include requiring trustees to evaluate how they intend to take account of financially material risks, and – when they revisit their statement of investment principles – to review how they ensured those considerations were taken into account.The department was also mulling consulting on requiring trustees to publish the statement of investment principles or make it available to all on request, and to tell members that it was available.Opperman said the DWP was planning to launch the consultation in May or June and that, rather than making small technical amendments, it wanted to introduce regulations “which are as effective as possible in delivering the right level and consideration by trustees”.Opperman also revealed the government was planning to shortly propose legislation that would require trustees of defined contribution (DC) occupational schemes to disclose on request the pooled funds in which members are invested, and to tell members annually that this information is available. This, said Opperman, would enable members “to identify and access other publicly available information about the policies of the investment managers in relation to voting, engagement, and sustainable and responsible investment.The DWP would also shortly propose legislation that would require disclosure of information about “the cost implications of churn” – turnover of assets – to DC pension scheme members, he said.‘Outright misunderstanding’ of fiduciary dutyIn his letter, Opperman said the government was aware of “relatively little robust research” on the way that pension funds interpret risks such as climate change but that “good practice appears to be far from universal”.Recent research had indicated that “a lack of attention and outright misunderstanding” of the scope of their fiduciary duty remained widespread among trustees.This was despite guidance on this from The Pensions Regulator.Opperman said there was broad scientific and public policy consensus that climate change was such a risk, so trustees had a duty to take account of it.“ A young person auto-enrolled on a pension today may be 45 years away from retirement. Over that timescale these climate change risks will inevitably grow.”Mary Creagh, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee They had a duty to take account of any and all financially material risks, including where these emerged from environmental or social contexts.It was rare for there to be cases where no social or environmental considerations would be financially material, if at all, Opperman wrote in his letter.Subject to the outcome of the upcoming consultation, the government would bring forward legislation that “clarifies this point”, he indicated.Parliamentary committee probes pension fundsThe Environmental Audit Committee published Opperman’s letter when it today announced it had written to the 25 largest UK pension funds to ask how they manage the risks that climate change poses to pension savings.Mary Creagh, Labour chair of the committee said: “The climate change risks of tomorrow should be considered by pension funds today. A young person auto-enrolled on a pension today may be 45 years away from retirement. Over that timescale these climate change risks will inevitably grow.”The letter asks the pension fund trustees a range of questions, such as whether they accept that pension funds are potentially exposed to financial risks through climate change, what actions they had taken in response to climate change-related risks – if they had considered these –, and if they were planning to adopt recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures for their scheme’s reporting.The pension funds have been asked to respond by 28 March.Reactions – delight and dismayCommenting on the move by the committee of MPs, Luke Hildyard, policy lead for stewardship and corporate governance at the UK pension fund association, said: “Numerous credible commentators from institutions such as the Bank of England, Cambridge University and many leading financial services firms have highlighted the major economic impact of climate change and the serious long-term threat that it poses to pension funds’ investments.“It’s definitely an issue that trustees should be making time to discuss and seeking advice on.”Rachel Haworth, senior policy officer at campaign organisation ShareAction, welcomed that the Environmental Audit Committee was “taking decisive action to assess how far pension funds are taking account of climate risk”.“We applaud the government’s intention to introduce robust regulations that are as effective as possible in delivering the necessary changes,” she added.Others, however, pushed back against claims that trustees were misunderstanding their fiduciary duties. Rosalind Connor, partner at ARC Pensions Law said: “The widespread misunderstanding of trustees’ duties may extend to others involved in this debate.”She suggested that, often, statements about the need for trustees to understand their duty to invest in green assets for financial reasons were motivated by something else.“The concern that is really underpinning this is that trustees are not investing in a way that is good for the environment,” she said. “That is not the pension trustees’ duty under the present law.”She said it was because trustees understood their obligations that pension fund investment was not flowing into “greener” investments, not because they didn’t understand them.“If MPs want trustees to invest in more sustainable investments, they should investigate changing the law to make this a requirement. It is not accurate to blame the trustees when they are simply complying with their obligations.”The pensions minister’s letter can be found here.
The current educational model is not well-suited to the economy of tomorrow, and if it isn’t changed radically, “we could see the middle class hollowed out again,” said Jerry Nickelsburg, an economist with the Anderson Forecast at UCLA. To illustrate the income gap, economists use a scale in which zero is for a utopian society with wealth evenly distributed, and 100 is for a society in which a few mega-rich individuals hold all the dollars. In the United States, the index has slowly inched up to somewhere near 50 in the past 35 years, meaning wealth is distributed somewhat evenly between rich and poor. In L.A., however, it’s above 60 percent, meaning the wealthy control a disproportionate share of the money. According to the most recent Census Bureau data, the mean annual household income in Los Angeles stood at $66,364. On the wealthy side, nearly 60,000 households made more than $200,000. On the poor side, more than 140,000 made $10,000 or less. Things aren’t as bad as they were in the 1990s, when high- wage manufacturing jobs evaporated by the tens of thousands and the index soared well above the national average. Nickelsburg said the economy had evolved, so high- wage service jobs – paralegal, graphic design, communications and audio-visual – gave workers a better shot at working their way into the middle class. But the key difference then, he said, was that someone also could land a manufacturing job right out of high school with no special training. And if assembly-line workers got laid off at General Motors in Van Nuys, they could often take a short trip to Burbank and get hired at Lockheed with the same pay. Graphic designers, on the other hand, can’t just apply to be nurses if their firm closes. And without a more comprehensive employment-development and training strategy throughout the region, economist Jack Kyser said, the middle-class jobs of today can easily evaporate tomorrow. “When you have a two-tier economy with a rapidly shrinking middle class, you’ll have some social problems like crime and homelessness,” he said. “You need a balanced economy with a good job ladder so if people want to work hard, they can get ahead.” Jos Torres, 21, of Sylmar wants to work hard and get ahead. The first isn’t so difficult, he said, but the latter is a challenge. Torres makes $9.25 per hour, plus commissions, answering phones in customer service. He brings home around $285 per week. He rents a room from his mother, has credit card and cell phone bills and makes payments to a friend who lent him money to buy a 1991 Toyota Celica. To try to get ahead, Torres sought assistance from Communities In Schools, a North Hills agency that helped get him into vocational training. He plans to study to get into real estate and to save for a home. “It’s pretty difficult,” he said. “You need a little pile of money to get started, but it’s hard. Everything’s going up – rent, gas, everything. You’re not going to get that pile unless you starve yourself.” email@example.com (818) 713-3738160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “I’m really blessed,” he said. “I still don’t have a Lamborghini, though. And I need one.” As Rodriguez marveled at the sleek, red Italian sports car, Martinez washed it. For the past seven years, that’s been his living, earning minimum wage plus tips. He has an apartment on Victory Boulevard in Valley Glen with his wife and two children. He makes $300 to $400 per week. “It’s hard,” Martinez said. “I don’t have a lot of money but, compared to Mexico, it’s good. There, $5 is a day’s work.” Rodriguez considers himself well-off; Martinez considers himself poor. And according to a report released today by the UCLA Anderson Forecast, Los Angeles has a growing number of people just like both of them – and not so many in the middle. While the local economy has adapted in recent years to accommodate more middle- class jobs, the report, titled “Richer and Poorer: Income Inequality in Los Angeles,” warns that the next generation of workers could find itself ill-prepared to labor its way from poor to rich. On one hand, Francisco Martinez and Paige Rodriguez aren’t so different. They both live in the San Fernando Valley. They’re both around 30. They both work with cars. But the similarity ends there. Rodriguez customizes high-end automobiles and sells them to celebrities. Last year, his 101 Automotive Group grossed $2.5 million. The Toluca Lake man drives a tricked- out Mercedes-Benz S550 he estimates is worth $150,000.