Trillium Finds IdaCorp Failing to Respond to Investor Calls for Disclosure(A)
IdaCorp Snubs Investor Calls for Disclosure on Hells Canyon Complex
Company Fails to Respond to Historic Stockholder Vote on Salmon Protection
September 25, 2002
Lisa Leff, Trillium Asset Management (208) 387-0777
Connie Kelleher, American Rivers (206) 213-0330 ext. 14
BOISE – IdaCorp shareholders today expressed disappointment with the company’s failure to disclose critical economic information regarding the relicensing of the Hells Canyon Complex of dams, owned and operated by IdaCorp subsidiary Idaho Power. Despite a historic shareholder vote at the company’s annual meeting calling for disclosure, IdaCorp omitted most of the requested information from its draft license application filed last week with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
“The shareholders spoke, and Idacorp failed to listen,” said Lisa Leff, Vice President and Portfolio Manager of Trillium Asset Management, the investment firm that filed the resolution. “Given widespread concerns over corporate accounting and calls for more disclosure, it is extremely surprising and disappointing that IdaCorp is not heeding the calls of investors who seek more information.”
Trillium’s shareholder proposal on disclosure on Hells Canyon relicensing issues gained the support of 35.5% of votes cast in May 2002. This was the highest level of support received by any social or environmental shareholder resolution voted on this year, according to the Investor Responsibility Research Center, a 30-year old non-profit research group. Representatives of Trillium Asset Management and the environmental group American Rivers met with company officials after the shareholder vote to press the company for more disclosure. Despite assurances that much of the requested information would be provided in the draft application, the company disclosed the costs of only a few possible mitigation measures and refused to analyze the potential benefits to the company of breaching the four federal lower Snake dams downstream.
“By disclosing the requested information now, Idaho Power could avoid unnecessary legal battles and even more costly mitigation measures as salmon go further in decline,” said Connie Kelleher of American Rivers. “It is unfortunate for both salmon and shareholders that Idaho Power won’t look at the big picture.”
The current license for the Hells Canyon Complex, one of the largest private hydropower projects in the country, expires in 2005 and Idaho Power is in the process of seeking a new license from FERC. The FERC must by law give “equal consideration” to fish and wildlife in setting the conditions of the new license for the project. The Hells Canyon Complex blocks the migration of Snake River salmon and steelhead, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and causes water quality problems downstream. As a condition of renewing its license, Idaho Power will be required to mitigate for its impacts on fish and wildlife by measures such as fish passage or water quality control structures.
The May 2002 shareholder resolution requested that Idacorp disclose the cost of potential mitigation measures, which would allow the company to recommend the most cost-effective and environmentally responsible options in its license application. The resolution also called for IdaCorp to report on potential economic impacts to the company in the event that the four federally-owned lower Snake River dams downstream of the Hells Canyon Complex are breached. While these lower Snake dams are neither owned nor operated by Idaho Power, their fate has potentially large economic implications for the company since breaching may reduce the need for Idaho Power to implement costly fish mitigation measures at the Hells Canyon Complex.
“The government’s decision whether to remove the lower Snake dams has a direct impact on the Hells Canyon Complex and IdaCorp,” said Leff. “And if removal of the federal Snake River dams would benefit the company financially, it’s critical that IdaCorp disclose that to its shareholders.”
Trillium Asset Management is the oldest and largest investment firm in the United States specializing exclusively in socially responsible asset management. Founded in 1982, it currently manages $700 million in assets for both individual and institutional clients.
American Rivers is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting and restoring rivers nationwide.