Race to Net Zero - Episode 5

Race to Net-Zero - Episode 5

Choosing action: NRG's journey to net-zero 

        

This episode is made in partnership with NRG Energy.

The Race to Net-Zero podcast is a six-episode series featuring conversations with energy experts and businesses who have committed to net-zero carbon emissions. In this episode, host John Failla introduces Jeanne-Mey Sun, Vice President of Sustainability at NRG Energy. They discuss the depth of NRG’s work in sustainability, as evidenced by NRG’s comprehensive 2021 sustainability report published this summer.

 

In today's episode, we cover...

  • NRG’s sustainability foundation [03:34]
  • Challenges and lessons [08:29]
  • SBTi and customers [13:06]
  • Advisory services [20:34]
  • Working with suppliers [23:09]

 

Becoming a sustainability leader

NRG approaches sustainability in an all-encompassing way, which spans its entire value chain and accounts for the interests of its stakeholder ecosystem. To demonstrate the comprehensiveness of this approach, NRG developed five pillars: sustainable business, sustainable customers, sustainable operations, sustainable workplace, and sustainable suppliers. This sustainability framework and strategy cover every part of the business.

For years, NRG has had a strong desire to be a leader in sustainability, particularly on climate. The company wants to be part of the solution to climate change both because it’s the right thing to do and because it makes good business sense. NRG strives to be a leader in the energy sector for the good of local communities and the planet.

 

Strategies and goals

When a company is trying to develop new strategies and set ambitious goals, the biggest challenge is getting internal alignment, particularly from groups that will play a role in implementing the strategy and meeting the goals. NRG learned that it needs to be expansive in identifying its internal stakeholders and working with them from the beginning. Communication is essential to explain what the company is doing and why. Change will take time, and a phased approach is needed.

NRG’s current goal is to reduce 50% of CO2 equivalent emissions by 2025 and achieve net-zero by 2050. While this goal is ambitious, the company has successfully reduced its carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 44% since its 2014 baseline and NRG was one of the first companies to have its targets validated by the Science-Based Target initiative.

 

Sustainable finance

In late 2020, NRG became the first North American company to issue sustainability-linked bonds, which tie attractive financing to the borrower’s realization of particular sustainability goals. The bonds aligned NRG’s financing, sustainability, and overall corporate strategy and helped fund NRG’s acquisition of Direct Energy in early 2021. That acquisition doubled its regular customer base to about six million and became a larger platform to provide more sustainable products and services to customers. The economies of scale afforded by this larger customer platform allows NRG to continue innovating affordable sustainability solutions that drive customer adoption.

NRG is focused on reducing the carbon intensity of the energy it provides its customers. In electricity, NRG offers a range of renewable electricity plans to both home and business customers. Renewable Select enables customers to secure solar, wind, or other types of renewable power. By supporting new local renewable projects, businesses can secure a fixed price for their power purchases and become leaders in spearheading sustainability initiatives in their region.

 

Resources and People Mentioned

  

Connect with Jeanne- Mey Sun

 

Connect with NRG Energy

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