The end result is a CO2 emissions rate nearly 50 percent below the U.S. electric power sector average of 1,297 pounds per megawatt-hour, according to the report.
At the same time, NextEra Energy has been one of the most profitable companies in the industry. In fact, the company had the highest total shareholder return of any U.S. electric power company over the five years ending Sept. 30, 2009, and outperformed the sector as a whole by 119 percentage points over the 10 years ending Dec. 31, 2009.
The company’s record of sustainable business practices goes back decades. "In NextEra Energy’s annual report from 1989, more than 20 years ago, my predecessor wrote of the company’s commitment to ‘keep informed on the Greenhouse Effect and other problems associated with the burning of fossil fuels,’" said NextEra Energy Chairman and CEO Lew Hay in the 2010 Sustainability Report. "Today, more than 90 percent of our power comes from low- and no-emission fuel sources."
At the end of 2009, NextEra Energy remained the nation’s No. 1 producer of wind energy, with more than 7,500 megawatts of installed capacity (a typical nuclear plant has about 1,000 megawatts of capacity). The company was also the No. 1 operator of solar power with 335 megawatts in service, including the largest solar power plant in the world in California’s Mojave Desert. In addition, the company is the nation’s largest generator of electricity from natural gas and operates eight nuclear power units in four states.
In 2009, the company generated 15.8 million megawatt-hours of electricity from its wind farms, compared with 12.2 million megawatt-hours from its largest nuclear plant. Overall, 4.2 percent of the company’s electricity was generated from coal, compared with an industry average of 45.4 percent. The company’s investor-owned utility, Florida Power & Light, was No. 2 in the nation in cumulative electricity saved through demand-side management programs through the end of 2009. Through its investments in highly efficient combined-cycle natural gas generation, FPL has also dramatically reduced its emissions profile — the utility alone has a carbon dioxide emissions rate 35 percent below the national average.
Economically, NextEra Energy has not only delivered strong returns to shareholders but has played a key role in building the clean-energy economy and creating jobs. Over the past five years, the company has invested more than $18 billion in clean-energy infrastructure, creating more than 60,000 direct and indirect jobs in the process.
The company’s economic performance is driven in part by the high efficiency of its power generation fleet. For example, NextEra Energy’s fossil-fueled power plants require an average of 7,965 British Thermal Units (BTUs) to produce one kilowatt-hour of electricity, compared with an industry average of 10,139 BTUs.
NextEra Energy is also committed to being a good neighbor in the communities it serves. One of the company’s signature initiatives, operated through its Florida Power & Light subsidiary, is the Home Energy Makeover, a free energy-efficiency upgrade that helps low-income homeowners save up to 25 percent annually on their electric bills. FPL performed 151 Home Energy Makeovers in 2009. This is on top of the $1 million the company has contributed annually since 2007 to its Care to Share program, which helps low-income customers in emergency situations pay their electric bills.
NextEra Energy employees also contributed more than 20,000 hours of their time in 2009 to volunteer work as part of the company’s Community Volunteer Corps. For another key constituency — employees themselves — the company offered a range of programs to ensure their well-being, from health and wellness activities to professional skills training at NextEra University to the best-funded large pension plan in the nation.
At more than 60 pages, NextEra Energy’s 2010 Sustainability Report is the most comprehensive the company has ever produced. It contains more information than ever before about the company’s environmental, economic and social performance, addressing 75 of the data points requested as part of the internationally accepted Global Reporting Initiative guidelines on sustainability.
"I do not believe that sustainability is something a company can suddenly announce it has embraced," Hay said. "It must be a fundamental part of how a company does business. NextEra Energy’s history demonstrates that sustainability is encoded in our DNA. In the 1970s, we led the way with one of the industry’s first departments devoted exclusively to analyzing the impact of our operations on the environment. In the 1980s, we dramatically expanded our generation of zero-emissions nuclear energy. In the 1990s, we made our first investments in the emerging renewable energy industry. And in the 2000s, we rose to become the nation’s undisputed leader in wind energy."
NextEra Energy, Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!nee/quotes/nls/nee (NEE 53.04, -0.23, -0.43%) is a leading clean energy company with 2009 revenues of more than $15 billion, nearly 43,000 megawatts of generating capacity, and more than 15,000 employees in 28 states and Canada. Headquartered in Juno Beach, Fla., NextEra Energy’s principal subsidiaries are NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, the largest generator in North America of renewable energy from the wind and sun, and Florida Power & Light Company, which serves approximately 4.5 million customer accounts in Florida and is one of the largest rate-regulated electric utilities in the country. Through its subsidiaries, NextEra Energy collectively operates the third largest U.S. nuclear power generation fleet.