2012 Conference: APS committed to generating long-term value for company and community
In the opening session of the largest-ever International Corporate Citizenship Conference, Arizona Public Service Chairman and CEO Donald Brandt, and Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer Edward Fox, spoke of the company’s commitment to creating long-term value for APS and its communities.
Brandt told of the humble beginnings of APS as a gas and electric works that promised to furnish the growing frontier town of Phoenix with light from dark to daylight “except when sufficiently lighted by the moon.” It goes without saying much has changed since the company’s dozen street lamps were doing the job when the moon couldn’t. Now in its 125th year, APS is a $13 billion company serving more than 1.l million homes and businesses.
Brandt remarked that he was struck by comments from Center for Corporate Citizenship Executive Director Katherine V. Smith in a Center blog that creating long-term corporate value aligns better the interests of shareholders and other stakeholders. He noted that APS must balance the immediate needs of delivering electricity with long-range planning for infrastructure that impacts future generations.
“Electricity can’t be stored. You must produce it as it is consumed,” explained Brandt, but the infrastructure it requires takes years to build and lasts for decades. Investments made today impact customers’ grandchildren.
APS also must adapt to ongoing changes in the way electricity is being generated, delivered and used, with greater emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency, and the advent of smart grid technology and digital meters that allow customers to manage energy use. Meeting this challenge, Brandt said, will involve making substantial investments and tough choices. “There will be give and take in our planning efforts as we try to mix public expectations, cost pressures and the basic physics of energy into a future that works for everyone.”
While he acknowledged it will be hard to please everyone with every decision, the CEO stressed that APS will make decisions with the goal of creating long-term corporate value that, “will always consider our societal, economic and environmental impact now, and for generations to come. That is how you get to be a company that is 125 years old.”
Fox explained that the long term view described by Brandt of mutual success with customers and communities is the definition of sustainability for APS. He pointed out that APS is a company based on the values of safety, integrity and trust, respect and accountability.
“Our commitment to corporate citizenship and sustainability is based on our values that are the foundation of our strategic business model,” Fox said.
Fox spoke of how years ago an evolution began to take place in how companies dealt with environmental issues. The old model was adversarial: Agitate, Investigate, Regulate, Litigate. The new model is more inclusive: Anticipate, Collaborate, Innovate, Demonstrate, Communicate/Educate. “Twenty years later, I am proud to work for a company that understands the new model and executes to its expectations.”
Fox remarked that APS believes “community engagement is essential to sustaining our success, and equally important is employee engagement.” Engaged employees, he pointed out, are productive employees who care about the communities where they work and live.
“What’s wrong with having a business reason for doing good? There is no wrong!” Fox emphasized.