Allegheny Engery weighs pollution proposal

April 27, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Allegheny Energy shareholders next month will vote on a proposal aimed at making the utility provide information about greenhouse gas emissions.

cont. from front page

The proposal, which will be taken up at the company's annual shareholders meeting May 11, would instruct the board of directors to report on the company's greenhouse gas emissions and say what it is doing to reduce them.

Shareholders can vote on the measure by telephone, mail or over the Internet.

The proposal asks the company to detail what actions it or industry groups it supports are taking to promote the view that global warning is not real or exaggerated.

Greenhouse gases are those that are believed to contribute to the greenhouse effect, which is defined as the warming of a planet and its lower atmosphere caused by trapped solar radiation.


The statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission says the proposal was co-sponsored by two organizations. Allegheny Energy declined to identify them, citing confidentiality. Any shareholder, however, can obtain the information by asking the company.

The shareholder proposal states that companies like Enron, 3M and Toyota have accepted the premise of global warming and are taking steps to reduce pollution.

"Failing to rise to the challenge set by these industry leaders will hurt our company's competitiveness and cost our shareholders increasing amounts of money," the proposal states.

Allegheny Energy's board of directors opposes the proposal and will vote against it with proxies it receives that do not specify otherwise.

"The company has taken numerous voluntary, precautionary steps to address the issue of global climate change," the board states in a response to the proposal. "Many uncertainties remain in the global climate change debate."

Those uncertainties include how much of the damage is caused by human activity as opposed to natural processes, according to the board's response.

"The company is responding appropriately and will continue to explore cost-effective opportunities to improve efficiency and performance," it states.

The official company position states that the Hagerstown-based company has reduced annual emission of greenhouse gases by about 1.6 million short tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Energy to participate in a program that funds about $10 million of direct climate research a year.

Allegheny Energy spokeswoman Cyndi Shoop said shareholders defeated a similar proposal last year. It attracted 7.4 percent of the votes that were cast.

Shareholders also defeated environmental proposals in 1993, 1994 and 1995.

Shoop said it is fairly common for shareholders to offer publicly traded companies to face proposals related to the environment.

"It's not something unique to our company," she said.

The Herald-Mail Articles