More than 140 Consumers Energy employees and contract personnel are responding to a winter storm that left nearly 2 million residents in the Northeast U.S. without power.
Consumers Energy crews, including lineworkers, damage assessors, safety personnel and other field employees, are departing Jackson, Michigan today.
The Consumers Energy contingent is initially headed for Philadelphia, to assist with PECO utility. The crews expect to begin restoration work later Tuesday.
“We are ready and willing to assist our colleagues out East as they recover from this significant storm,” said Guy Packard, Consumers Energy vice president of electric energy operations. “In the past, we were fortunate to be supported by out-of-state crews following major storms. This is an opportunity for us to return the favor to our fellow line workers.”
Packard said the decision to release both Consumers Energy employees and about 30 Michigan-based contractors who work on its electric system was made after analyzing weather forecasts. He said enough crews remain in-state to address any future weather related outages. The contractor crews left Saturday and Sunday and are working in New Jersey.
Additional details of the mutual assistance effort include:
The “Nor’easter” is the same storm which clipped southeast Michigan late last week, with strong winds and heavy, wet snow causing more than 1,000 Consumers Energy customers to lose power for several hours.
Gaining strength as it moved eastward Friday, the storm cut power to 1.9 million customers in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England regions. As of Sunday, nearly 200,000 customers were still without power, including more than 70,000 PECO customers in the greater Philadelphia area.
Mutual Assistance Coordination: The North Atlantic Mutual Assistance Group, a collection of more than two dozen regional electric utilities, is requesting mutual aid from utilities across the Eastern U.S. Consumers Energy is a member of the Great Lakes Mutual Assistance Group, one of the organizations contacted for assistance.
Michigan Crews: Lineworkers from 15 different Consumers Energy service centers across Michigan are expected to make the trip. Other employees include zone managers and field leaders, mechanics, damage assessors and safety representatives. The crews are expected to remain out East for up to two weeks. While out East, all of Consumers Energy’s costs are paid for by the host utilities.
Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
Roger Morgenstern, 616-530-4364, or Terry DeDoes, 517-374-2159
For more information about Consumers Energy, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com.
Check out Consumers Energy on social media:
New York human rights attorney Steven Donziger – long considered a leading public enemy of the oil and gas industry – is slated to speak to students at Harvard Law School Tuesday about the historic environmental judgment won by Ecuadorian indigenous peoples and farmer communities against Chevron and the company’s attempt to retaliate by deploying 60 law firms to target adversary counsel.
The case, Aguinda v. Chevron, has traversed three continents and 24 years in what is considered by scholars to be one of the most sprawling, complex, and expensive litigations in history. Chevron has spent at least $2 billion on its defense and lately has focused on trying to taint the $9.5 billion judgment won by the rainforest communities by accusing Donziger and his indigenous clients of fraud – an allegation contradicted by no fewer than 21 appellate judges in Ecuador and Canada who have reviewed all or parts of the case.
Donziger will speak at an event sponsored by the Environmental Law Society and participate in a fair trial class at the invitation of Charles Nesson, the William F. Weld Professor of Law at Harvard. The class is studying Donziger’s role in the battle of the Ecuadorians for a clean-up of their ancestral lands, which are pockmarked with roughly 1,000 unlined toxic waste pits filled with oil sludge that continue to contaminate groundwater and streams in an area where cancer rates have skyrocketed. (See here for a summary of the evidence against Chevron and here for photos of some of the victims.)
“We are excited to have Steven return to Harvard Law where he can share his view of the Chevron environmental case with our students,” said Professor Nesson.
The litigation between the rainforest communities and Chevron has become a global flashpoint over the conflict between indigenous rights and oil development in delicate ecosystems. It also poses a case study in the ability – or inability -- of civil justice systems to hold powerful corporations accountable for causing environmental harms to vulnerable populations.
Although Chevron had insisted the trial take place in Ecuador and had accepted jurisdiction there, the company has refused to pay the judgment and has threatened the communities and their lawyers with a “lifetime of litigation” if they persist. In the meantime, Chevron has lost three consecutive unanimous appellate decisions in Canada, where the villagers are trying to enforce their judgment by seizing Chevron assets.
Major Chevron shareholders also have stepped up their criticism of management for failing to settle the case (see this blog) while some of Canada’s most prominent indigenous leaders – including former National Chief Phil Fontaine -- have spoken out forcefully against the company for refusing to remediate its pollution in Ecuador. Greenpeace Co-founder Rex Weyler recently accused Chevron of committing “ecological crimes” after visiting the affected area.
Donziger has been targeted with what observers believe could be the most well-financed corporate retaliation campaign in history. Chevron has admitted paying the private investigations firm Kroll at least $15 million to spy on him and his family as well as other counsel. Kroll admitted preparing at least 20 reports designed to dig up “dirt” that could be used to discredit Donziger. Chevron also has used six public relations firms and 150 investigators on the case.
Despite evidence Chevron’s lawyers at the firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher paid an admittedly corrupt witness $2 million to try to frame Donziger and his clients in a civil RICO case designed to collaterally attack the Ecuador judgment (see here and here for background), a U.S. federal trial judge who refused to seat a jury ruled in favor of the company. The judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, refused to consider the voluminous scientific evidence of Chevron’s pollution in Ecuador, denied Donziger the ability to bring counterclaims against Chevron alleging criminal behavior by the company, did not disclose what evidence he admitted until he issued his opinion, and for various reasons crippled Donziger’s ability to defend himself, according to many legal observers.
(See here and here for analyses of the Kaplan ruling by commentators and this motion by trial attorney John Keker calling the RICO proceeding a “Dickensian farce” where the judge showed “implacable hostility” toward the Ecuadorians and Donziger.)
Donziger called Judge Kaplan’s RICO decision in favor of Chevron an “example of American judicial imperialism” that is backfiring against the company in enforcement courts. Chevron’s paid witness in the RICO matter, Alberto Guerra, later admitted lying under oath. Donziger and his clients recently sent a criminal referral letter to the U.S. Department of Justice seeking a probe of the company and its lawyers for presenting false evidence.
At one point, Donziger – himself a 1991 Harvard Law School graduate -- faced off against 114 lawyers from the Gibson Dunn firm as he defended himself pro se. Chevron admitted in an internal email that its long-term strategy was to “demonize Donziger” and at one point a top Chevron official said in reference to the case, “We will fight this until hell freezes over, and then fight it out on the ice.”
Chevron also is trying to orchestrate Donziger’s disbarment in New York without allowing him a hearing based on Judge Kaplan’s civil RICO findings – a move he is currently litigating (see here). Chevron also filed a motion before Judge Kaplan to try to force Donziger to pay $32 million of the company’s legal fees in the RICO case -- a number he has said is designed to silence his advocacy and that he has no hope of actually paying.
Donziger, a sole practitioner, has been widely praised by environmental leaders even as he has drawn the ire of Chevron and business organization such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “For more than two decades, Steven Donziger has taken on one of the largest and most important fights for corporate accountability in history,” said Paul Paz y Mino, associate director of the environmental group Amazon Watch. “His ability to stare down one of the most vicious corporate attacks ever is nothing short of astounding and serves as an inspiration to untold numbers of people around the world.”
For background on the case, see this article in Rolling Stone, this legal brief by Donziger’s appellate counsel, this report about the erroneous RICO findings, and this photo essay by award-winning journalist Lou Dematteis.
The Smithfield Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Smithfield Foods, Inc., is pleased to announce its gift of $500,000 to Victory Junction, a children’s camp committed to enriching the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses by providing life-changing camp experiences. Smithfield’s donation will fund the camp’s new indoor archery range.
Since 2004 Victory Junction has served 47,903 children and their family members through a variety of programs – onsite through summer and family weekend camps and offsite through the camp’s outreach program, Reach, which brings camp-like experiences to children in hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses.
The new and improved Smithfield Foods Archery Range will provide a safe gathering place for campers to learn archery, make friends, and enjoy the adventures and experiences of camp life—a welcomed break for children who spend most of their year enduring medical treatments or hospital visits.
“Historically, the archery range has been among the most popular program venues at Victory Junction,” said Chad Coltrane, chief executive officer of Victory Junction. “The activity is currently offered at an open-air range but is only operational when weather permits. It is also positioned in an area of Victory Junction’s campus that is subject to flooding during heavy rains. Smithfield’s generous gift will allow us to create an indoor venue for this activity to provide uninterrupted fun for our campers, regardless of inclement weather.”
Construction of the new indoor facility began on Jan. 31, 2018, and is expected to be completed by May 1, 2018. Like all facilities at Victory Junction, the Smithfield Foods Archery Range will meet the rigorous safety standards of the American Camp Association and will be staffed and supported by certified professionals—allowing campers of all ages and abilities to enjoy the activity.
Victory Junction was the dream of Adam Petty, a fourth-generation race car driver from the famous Petty family and a rising star in the sport. After Adam’s tragic passing from a racing accident in 2000, the Petty family realized his dream of a camp to serve children with serious medical conditions through the opening of Victory Junction in 2004.
Smithfield, a longtime sponsor and supporter of NASCAR, applauds Victory Junction, the Petty family, and their important connection to the NASCAR community.
“Smithfield Foods is proud to support Victory Junction—an incredible place where campers experience positive, life-changing impacts well beyond their time at camp,” said Keira Lombardo, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Smithfield Foods and president of the Smithfield Foundation. “We’re pleased that the indoor archery center will provide yet another bright spot at camp where children can gain confidence in their abilities and what they can achieve.”
For more information about Victory Junction and its camp programming, visit victoryjunction.org.
Learn more about this project by watching this short video.
About Smithfield Foods
Smithfield Foods is a $15 billion global food company and the world's largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including Smithfield®, Eckrich®, Nathan's Famous®, Farmland®, Armour®, Farmer John®, Kretschmar®, John Morrell®, Cook's®, Gwaltney®, Carando®, Margherita®, Curly's®, Healthy Ones®, Morliny®, Krakus® and Berlinki®. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com.
About Victory Junction
Victory Junction is a year-round camping environment for children, ages six to 16, with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. Co-founded by Kyle Petty and his family in honor of their son Adam, the camp is located in Randleman, North Carolina. Victory Junction exists to provide life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun and empowering, in a safe and medically-sound environment, always at no charge to children and their families. Since the camp’s inception, more than 47,000 children and families have received not only a circle of support but experiences thought to only be possible by healthy children through a variety of programs; onsite through summer and family weekend camps and offsite through the camp’s outreach program, Reach. Victory Junction is a member of the SeriousFun Children’s Network of Camps founded by Paul Newman, and is accredited by the rigorous guidelines of the American Camping Association. To learn more, please visit www.victoryjunction.org.
ERM, the world’s leading sustainability consultancy, has completed the acquisition of BrownFlynn Ltd (BrownFlynn). BrownFlynn is the leading U.S. corporate sustainability and governance consulting business based in Cleveland, Ohio.
Established in 1996, BrownFlynn advises Fortune 500 and privately held businesses on all aspects of corporate sustainability advisory services, setting strategy, helping them navigate reporting frameworks and ratings, undertaking materiality assessments and setting bold goals and KPIs, communicating progress through design and storytelling and monitoring environmental, social and governance (ESG) trends. Further, BrownFlynn is a pioneer in integrated reporting and the first U.S. certified Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) trainer. The firm has developed proprietary tools to support their clients’ assessment processes, reporting and engagement with stakeholders, providing the capability to deliver on the full life cycle of client needs.
ERM is building the leading position in the corporate sustainability and governance consulting market, combining commercial acumen, technical expertise and deep understanding of societal pressures to respond to client, investor and stakeholder needs. With the acquisition of BrownFlynn, ERM strengthens its U.S. presence to a global capability as it partners with the key international standard bodies, industry organizations and investor groups. This acquisition also complements ERM’s strengths in data management and technical solutions in addressing the sustainability challenges facing companies and stakeholders today.
“With BrownFlynn joining the ERM Group, we further establish our full life cycle set of offerings to our clients in the sustainability advisory arena,” explained Keryn James, ERM’s CEO. “As the market for sustainability and governance consulting matures, ERM is now well advanced in building the leading position. BrownFlynn is a market pioneer and for over 20 years has established an impressive business in the U.S. ERM is glad to continue this journey together with their fantastic leadership and team.”
Barb Brown and Margie Flynn, BrownFlynn’s founders and principals, explained that, “In ERM, we recognized a shared commitment to delivering client excellence and vision for being a global leader. Our entire team is delighted to join ERM and contributing to making that a reality.”
ERM is the leading global provider of environmental, health, safety, risk, social consulting services and of sustainability related services. It has 160 offices in 40 countries and territories, employing more than 4,500 people. ERM provides services to a wide range of sectors including Oil & Gas, Energy, Power, Chemicals, Manufacturing, Mining and High Tech/Telecoms as well as selected parts of the Infrastructure market. Over the past five years ERM has worked for more than 50 per cent of the Global Fortune 500 delivering innovative solutions for business and selected government clients helping them understand and manage the sustainability challenges that the world is increasingly facing.
Founded in January 1996, BrownFlynn is the leading corporate sustainability and governance consulting firm in the United States. The firm, based in Cleveland, Ohio, advises Fortune 500 and privately held companies on corporate sustainability and governance issues. BrownFlynn partners with clients so they can achieve positive and tangible social, environmental, and economic impact—leading to sustained value.
For more information, please contact:
ERM Managing Partner -- Midwest
The Gerald R. Ford International Airport is being recognized for having one of the best and most energy-efficient airports in the region. Consumers Energy presented a rebate check for $151,631 to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) today, as part of the company’s energy efficiency program which is saving the airport energy and money.
GFIA received the rebates for six projects totaling $151,631 and 2,140,991 kilowatt hours in annual savings – enough electricity to power nearly 300 Michigan homes for a year. The six projects include the most recent completion of the Gateway Transformation Project Phase One, work in the Airport’s parking garage, and upgrades in the Field Maintenance and Airport Rescue Firefighting facilities.
“Our airport is proud to receive recognition for being energy-efficient, and we are grateful to have partners like Consumers Energy who help us recognize areas where we can improve and be more resourceful,” said GFIA President & CEO Jim Gill. “As we continue to expand our footprint during upcoming construction and make technology upgrades and improvements, we want to be as green as possible.”
Consumers Energy has helped Michigan customers save more than $1.5 billion through energy efficiency projects since 2009.
“Our commitment to world class performance delivering hometown service means we work every day helping customers like GFIA with creative solutions to reduce energy consumption. This is good for the planet, and also lowers energy bills which ultimately benefits Michigan’s economy,” said Lisa Gustafson, executive director of business customer care for Consumers Energy, who presented today’s check.
About The Gerald R. Ford International Airport
The Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) is the second largest and busiest airport in Michigan. The Airport served over 2.8 million passengers in 2017 and over 7,000 travelers pass through GFIA each day. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport offers nonstop service to 24 major market destinations with more than 120 daily nonstop flights, and the Airport is managed and operated by the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. GFIA generates over $3.1 billion in annual economic output throughout West Michigan, and employs over 2,000 people. For more information on GFIA visit: www.flyford.org or follow the airport on Twitter: @FlyGRFord
Tara Hernandez, Marketing and Communications Director
O: (616) 233-6053 | firstname.lastname@example.org
More than a third of us wear a uniform at work. The problem with that is, as with most garments, when uniforms reach the end of their life they are merely tossed in the bin. In fact, a staggering 90% of the 33 million corporate garments given to staff every year end up in landfill. That adds up to 15,000 tonnes of clothing. The cost of waste disposal alone comes to £1.2m in Landfill Tax.
But recycling or recovering old uniforms is not easy. Polyester, the material of choice for most corporate uniforms, is infinitely recyclable. But collecting branded clothing throws up a number of security and brand reputation issues; it is no wonder so much ends up buried in the ground.
Ocado, the world’s biggest pure-play online retailer, has been determined to do something to not only reduce the environmental impact of its staff uniforms – but to do so in a way that directly benefits people too.
More than 5,600 people at Ocado wear a uniform for work each day. When those uniforms are no longer needed, they are sent to HMP Northumberland. There, the garments, which would otherwise have been incinerated, are totally transformed. Unwanted fleeces, trousers and polo shirts are de-branded and turned into raw materials. These are then turned into new products which are sold online, with proceeds going to charitable recycling projects.
“We take the same approach to uniform refashioning as we do with redistributing food waste; we try not to offload our responsibilities on to somebody else,” says Head of Corporate Responsibility, Suzanne Westlake.
Ocado needed a partner that could manage a large volume of material and treat the de-branding process carefully and securely. But it also wanted a partner that aligned with its core values and strategy. “We firmly believe in supporting education projects, and in taking responsibility for our waste,” adds Westlake. “With a uniform rebrand on the horizon, we had a lot of good quality materials for offenders to work with. There's no point in sending partners rags – people can't learn a trade if the material they're working with isn’t of a certain standard.”
The process – including designing and cutting new patterns and machine-stitching finished products – constitutes a complete manufacturing process. And that is crucial because it means the work being done to design Ocado products counts towards offenders’ studies for a Performing Manufacturing Operations qualification (PMO), equivalent to a Level 2 NVQ.
In the last three years, 17 offenders have successfully completed the PMO, with another 61 now enrolled on the course. Everybody that has been offered the six-month course has voluntarily taken the opportunity, and so far the course success rate is 100%.
“Not all of our projects are end-to-end, so it’s nice to work on the Ocado stuff and see the finished garments evolve from raw fabric,” says Ian, an offender at HMP Northumberland. He has spent the last 15 months gaining the PMO qualification and progressing to be a supervisor. “When I first came in, I knew nothing about textiles. I wouldn’t have thought you could do this kind of thing with an old jacket. These projects make your mind tick over and help you feel more useful.
“I’ve learnt more in here than I did on the outside.”
So far, 99 tonnes of uniform has been sent to the prison for recycling. The company has also recently donated 800 of its de-branded waterproof coats through a partnership with Sodexo, supporting a local charity that helps families in poverty and the homeless in Newcastle.
Yes, the project with HMP Northumberland is helping Ocado to reduce its environmental footprint. But the initiative is also enabling offenders to learn a trade, which in turn increases their self-esteem and boosts their chances of finding meaningful employment after release.
“Education has the power to change lives,” adds Westlake, pointing to studies that show offenders who find sustainable employment after release are 50% less likely to be re-convicted than those who do not. At working prisons, such as HMP Northumberland, 60% of offenders secure employment or training after release – 50% higher than the national average.
So, what’s next for the initiative? Well, the UK Government seems to be supportive of a more widespread adoption of such an approach. A House of Commons All Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion, brought together a range of companies, including Ocado, as well as the third sector and government representatives back in 2015. There they discussed new ways to recycle and refashion more textiles to avoid landfill, including the example of what Ocado has now started.
For the HMP Northumberland partnership, there is certainly a desire to scale things up so that the offenders have even more materials to work with. At the start of the partnership, there were two items made from trousers. That has already grown into ten designs, conceived, designed and created by the programme. More elements of the old uniforms are being used in the creative process, such as fleeces and polo shirts.
“Unlike a traditional commercial contract, we’re not bound by minimum volumes or strict timelines on this,” says Westlake. “We can wait, so the partnership can grow at a pace that suits both of us.”
Ocado’s approach to dealing with a tricky and complex challenge shows how creative thinking and a partnership approach can build a long-term, replicable business model that goes beyond purely environmental impact reduction.
The Listen Learn Care Foundation will present its prestigious Listen Learn Care Awards to six organizations during its upcoming Difference Makers Leadership Forum in Delray Beach. Set to take place on March 22 and 23, the Leadership Forum has the theme “Technology Trends for Nonprofit Organizations.”
“We are delighted to announce this year’s class of Listen Learn Care Awards recipients,” says Listen Learn Care Foundation President Mary Wong. “Each of them, in its own way, makes an extraordinary difference to the people they serve – both here in South Florida and around the world.”
The recipients include:
Boca Helping Hands, Boca Raton - A community-based 501(c)(3) organization that was formed in 1998 by a group of local religious congregations, the organization operates a food center and a resource center offering help for Boca Raton residents in crisis situations.
Child Advocates, Indianapolis - The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) chosen by the courts in Marion County, Indiana, to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children through advocacy, monitoring, evaluation, fact-finding and mediation.
Gratitude Training, Pompano Beach - A powerful, exciting and impactful approach to reorienting its participants’ way of “being” to more effectively support them in reaching their goals, creating success and fully experiencing gratitude and joy.
Heifer International, Little Rock, Ark. - For more than 70 years, the international organization has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income.
Junior League of Boca Raton - An organization of local women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.
Old School Square Center for the Arts, Delray Beach - A National Historic Site in downtown Delray Beach where beautifully restored, early 20th century school buildings serve South Florida with visual and performing arts, entertainment and enrichment.
The Listen Learn Care Awards are given to individuals, companies and/or nonprofit organizations who demonstrate outstanding creativity, innovation and achievement in serving the community of mankind. Criteria for selection as an honoree include:
Exceptional leadership ability and skills
Unwavering commitment and persistence in helping others
Proven success in developing and implementing programs or initiatives that meet community needs.
The presentations will take place at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Friday, March 23, on the second day of the Leadership Forum, which attracts representatives of nonprofit organizations, businesses and other agencies from South Florida and beyond. The cost to attend the Leadership Forum is $69.99 for the two-day event.
Leadership Forum sponsors include Fit Food Fresh, the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, TD Bank, the Wyndham Hotel Boca Raton, JKG Group, and Make a Statement Events. CSRwire is the media sponsor for the event. To register for the Difference Makers Leadership Forum and for information about sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.listenlearncare.org/leadershipforum. More information is available at (561) 922-6951.
About the Listen Learn Care Foundation
The Listen Learn Care Foundation is an independent foundation − tax exempt under IRC Sec. 501(c)(3). In keeping with its mission, Listen Learn Care®, the Foundation supports a variety of programs that give children tools to succeed in school and in life; build the capacity of nonprofit organizations through collaboration and innovation; and help women succeed in business. For more information, visit www.listenlearncare.org.