Spire Inc: Report on Reducing Methane Emissions

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WHEREAS:  The long-term interests of shareholders are best served by companies that operate their businesses with a focus on long-term value creation. This is particularly important in the context of climate change. 

Methane is the main chemical component of natural gas, and methane emissions have a global warming impact roughly 84 times that of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Research indicates that economy-wide, methane leaks of only 3.2% across the natural gas supply chain could make natural gas as dangerous to climate as coal. Leaked methane is also a loss of product; across the U.S. economy this loss is enough to fuel 10 million homes per year.

Methane emissions across Spire’s operations, which include a whopping 4,300 miles of aging, leakprone pipeline, cause material risk to the company and its shareholders. For example, methane leaks create a safety hazard, raising the risk of deadly explosions for Spire’s nearly 1.7 million gas distribution customers. Less concentrated leaks that are not considered immediately hazardous contribute significantly to climate change when left uncontrolled and expose Spire to substantial climate risk. In recent years, city and state-level regulations and commitments on greenhouse gas emissions have become increasingly stringent. For instance, St. Louis—a city serviced by Spire—has committed to achieving 100% clean energy by 2035. 

Strategies to address methane leakage include pipeline replacement, use of advanced technologies to identify leaks quickly and cost effectively, and setting quantitative methane reduction targets; peers are rapidly adopting these best practices. Spire states an expectation to replace most aging pipelines within 15 to 18 years, but has yet to disclose details on its leak detection and repair protocols or any efforts to better identify and reduce the number of smaller, ongoing leaks across its system—an important step to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Company has also failed to indicate forward-looking targets or other measures intended to reduce its significant greenhouse gas footprint into the future. 

BE IT RESOLVED:  Shareholders request the company issue a report (at reasonable cost, omitting proprietary information) describing what, if any, enhanced measures it is taking beyond regulatory requirements and pipeline replacement to reduce its system-wide methane emissions.

SUPPORTING STATEMENT:  Investors suggest the report include a description of measures and quantitative indicators, such as:

  • Any deployment of specific leak detection and repair technologies, including timelines,

  • A description of how Spire’s methane reduction program aligns with low-carbon energy transition trends and the Paris Agreement’s goals,

  • Any initiatives to promote responsible methane management across Spire’s supply chain, and/or

  • Compliance with SASB Gas Utilities & Distributors Standard 5.3 - “Relevant strategies, plans, and/or targets related to reductions in fugitive emissions and process emissions, the entity’s ability to measure such emissions, the activities and investments required to achieve the plans, and any risks or limiting factors that might affect achievement of the plans and/or targets.”

Resolution Details

Spire Inc

Lead Filer: As You Sow 

Year: 2020

Filing Date: August 2019

Initiative(s): Methane

Status: Pending

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