Texan by Nature is excited to recognize Vistra Corp. (Vistra) as a 2021 TxN 20 honoree for their leadership in conservation and sustainability. Vistra’s commitment to conservation, their projects, programs, best practices, and lessons learned are an example and inspiration for us all.
Vistra was recognized as a 2020 TxN 20 honoree as well! Read the 2020 write-up.
Honoree Industry and Size: Energy – Mid
Vistra is a leading, Fortune 275 integrated retail electricity and power generation company based in Irving, Texas, providing essential resources for customers, commerce, and communities. Vistra combines an innovative, customer-centric approach to retail with safe, reliable, diverse, and efficient power generation. The company brings its products and services to market in 20 states and the District of Columbia, including six of the seven competitive wholesale markets in the U.S. and markets in Canada and Japan. Serving nearly 4.3 million residential, commercial, and industrial retail customers with electricity and natural gas, Vistra is one of the largest competitive residential electricity providers in the country and offers over 50 renewable energy plans. The company is also the largest competitive power generator in the U.S., with a capacity of approximately 39,000 megawatts powered by a diverse portfolio, including natural gas, nuclear, solar, and battery energy storage facilities. In addition, Vistra is a large purchaser of wind power. The company owns and operates a 400-MW/1,600-MWh battery energy storage system in Moss Landing, California, the largest of its kind in the world. Vistra is guided by four core principles: we do business the right way, we work as a team, we compete to win, and we care about our stakeholders, including our customers, our communities where we work and live, our employees, and our investors. Learn more about our environmental, social, and governance efforts and read the company’s sustainability report here.
What is Vistra’s conservation and sustainability mission and why is it important to your culture?
Vistra is a leading integrated retail electricity and power generation company, providing an essential resource — electricity — to customers, commerce, and communities. As a leader in the power sector, we are committed to addressing climate change by transforming our fleet to low-to-no carbon resources and advocating for economy-wide carbon solutions while also bettering our communities, our workplace, and our relationships with our customers, suppliers, and investors. From climate change to social justice, during pandemics and natural disasters, Vistra understands that corporations must stand up and be a part of the solution. Guided by our purpose, “lighting up people’s lives, powering a better way forward” and our 4 core principles, Vistra invests in our employees, prioritizes all of our stakeholders, and strives to better the communities where we live, work, and serve. We believe that conducting business through this lens ultimately leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction, more committed and engaged employees, and a stronger brand, which in turn leads to a more sustainable company.
How is conservation and sustainability a part of Vistra’s business strategy?
In devising our long-term strategy, Vistra has taken a balanced approach to lowering emissions through the transformation of our generation fleet to low-to-no carbon generation sources while continuing to provide affordable, reliable, and sustainable power to our customers. We are committed to leading in the climate change effort as we invest in zero-carbon resources, retire fossil fueled assets, and support and invest in environmentally-sound solutions and technology. Electricity is an essential resource, and we expect the demand for it will continue to grow as climate initiatives are implemented and the economy is further electrified. So, while the way we produce electricity is changing, our essential role in providing reliable and affordable electricity that is increasingly lower carbon, is not. As we adapt our business operations to compete in an economy with drastically lower emissions, Vistra believes the anticipated impacts of climate change and the related potential global mitigations will be not threats to the business, but rather opportunities for Vistra to play an increasingly important role in the energy transition.
What are Vistra’s short and long-term goals as they relate to conservation and sustainability?
Vistra tracks and reports various environmental performance and financial metrics to not only show progress of the climate strategy initiatives we have implemented, but to hold ourselves accountable to all stakeholders. Vistra has a goal to achieve a 60% reduction in CO2 equivalent emissions by 2030 as compared to a 2010 baseline with a long-term goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. As of year-end 2020 Vistra had already achieved a 45% reduction in CO2 equivalent emissions compared to its 2010 baseline, or approximately 76% of its 2030 target. Vistra’s emissions reductions have been achieved via its retirement of more than 12,000 MW of coal and gas plants to date, with another nearly 8,000 MW planned over the next seven years. These retirements are combined with ~4,000 MW of zero-carbon resources online or actively under development in our Vistra Zero portfolio.
Producing electricity utilizes water in several key functions therefore, water conservation is a primary concern at each of our generating facilities. Vistra recognizes the value of water resources and is continuously working to refine our water management strategies. Vistra is a key player in helping to manage national water resources, providing expertise on several official regional and statewide water planning and conservation groups or committees. Through various programs implemented at each facility, Vistra has been able to reduce the amount of water needed to produce electricity, with a 42% reduction of water withdrawal over the last 10 years. Further, Vistra strives to minimize the amount of waste produced at each of our locations through inventory management.
Since mining began more than 50 years ago, Luminant, the generation and mining business of Vistra, has reclaimed more than 86,000 acres of land for use as pastures, forests, wildlife habitat, and water resources. The company has already secured reclamation bond liability releases on over 45,000 acres, demonstrating that it meets or exceeds pre-mine standards. Luminant’s mine land reforestation efforts continue to set the industry standard as exemplified by the 2020 American Tree Farm System recertification of over 30,700 acres of Southern Yellow Pine at the company’s operations in Rusk and Panola Counties in Texas. As a Certified Tree Farmer, Luminant is recognized as having met American Tree Farm System Standards of Sustainability in managing its forestland and as an ambassador for woodland stewardship.
Who at Vistra is leading your conservation and sustainability efforts and what are some examples of employee engagement in conservation and sustainability at your company?
Sid Stroud, Director of Environmental Services, has spent his entire career with our company. In May, he celebrated his 46th work anniversary. Sid has been an integral part of our company’s unprecedented work in land reclamation excellence and has been personally committed to our efforts in environmental education at both the secondary and college level.
Brad Watson, Senior Director of Community Affairs, has been with Vistra for nearly 10 years. In that time, Brad and his team have been the driving force behind the Vistra Trees for Growth program, working to meaningfully improve the communities we serve. In partnership with the Texas Trees Foundation (TTF), we have provided almost 300,000 trees to beautify our communities, but also help mitigate the effects of climate change. Our company’s Trees for Growth program is strengthened by our strong relationship with TTF, a partnership that has also enriched the lives of our employees through opportunities to volunteer and get their hands dirty at the TXU Energy Urban Tree Farm and Education Center.
“Vistra is committed to investing in our communities, and we value their partnership in helping us achieve our mission of developing healthy and sustainable places to live, work, and serve.”
– Janette Monear, Texas Trees Foundation, Executive Director
What conservation and sustainability programs and projects does Vistra lead and participate in?
Our company’s roots in Texas go back nearly 140 years, and we are one of the largest landowners in the state. When our sites reach the end of their productive life, we restore – and in many cases improve – the land. We have reclaimed more than 86,000 acres, planted more than 42 million native trees, and created or enhanced more than 7,000 acres of wetlands, ponds, and stream channels on our restored lands, dramatically increasing water resources for the benefit of wildlife and livestock. Notable examples include:
Importantly, we have accomplished all of this while generating affordable and reliable electricity that has helped power the unprecedented Texas economy for generations, all while spending hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce emissions and restore our sites to an equivalent if not better condition.
How do you see the future of conservation and sustainability evolving, and what role will your company play in that progress?
Conservation and sustainability are continually evolving, and today we’re seeing broader interest from more diverse groups. Increasingly, investors are interested in the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) activities undertaken by companies – to measure the sustainability and societal impact of a business. Although, ESG is nothing new for us. Over the years, Vistra has been at the forefront of environmental stewardship and innovation.
Today we continue to deliver on our commitment to provide reliable and increasingly clean sources of electricity to help meet the needs of a growing population and move toward an even more environmentally sound future. While we have a deep history of protecting the environment, including conservation, Vistra has expanded reporting of its environmental footprint and expects to significantly reduce its emissions and usage of natural resources as it invests in new technologies to generate electricity.
Our stewardship begins with maintaining an excellent compliance record that meets or outperforms all applicable federal and state environmental laws and regulations. No one has more experience than Vistra in generating electricity in an environmentally responsible way, and with an exceptional track record of reducing emissions. We are committed to technology development, renewable energy, energy storage, and zero-emission nuclear generation that will improve the quality of the environment for all. We’ve focused our energies on being socially and environmentally responsible since our predecessor companies first turned on electric lights in Texas in 1882, and we’re looking forward to powering the future.
How does Vistra quantify investment and return on conservation and sustainability?
Vistra expects to invest, on average, $500 million of equity per year on renewable generating assets (including solar and battery energy storage) and retail businesses as our portfolio continues to transition away from carbon-heavy generating resources. These investments must meet Vistra’s internal rate of return thresholds. Vistra includes in its evaluation of projects the higher terminal value and multiples that are placed on green investments by the financial community. Vistra also considers the impact these investments will have on local communities including cleaner air, jobs for energy workers, and economic stability.
Why is Texas an important home or base of operations for Vistra?
An unmatched economy, business-friendly political environment, and a positive and productive regulatory environment make Texas the ideal place for Vistra to operate and call home. With Texas roots stretching back nearly 140 years, Vistra and its predecessors have always called the Lone Star State “home.” At Vistra, we play to win and believe in the power of competition to spark innovation and unleash benefits for our customers. That philosophy is fully supported by Texas’ unique ERCOT power market, which operates independently from other power regions in the country. Vistra is also proud to help the communities where our employees and customers live, work, and grow. Although our business has grown far beyond the borders of Texas, the heart of our business is here, and some of our most valuable partnerships are with agencies and nonprofits across our state, dedicated to uplifting less fortunate Texans.
“At Vistra, our Texas roots run deep, and every day we are continuously working to protect the land that makes this state unlike any other. From innovations in water conservation to industry-leading land reclamation efforts, we are a company that is deeply committed to being part of the solution, creating a better future for all Texans.”
– Molly Sorg, Vistra Chief Purpose and Sustainability Officer
Learn more about Vistra’s conservation and sustainability efforts here.
Vistra serces ~ 4.3 million residential, commercial, and industrial retail customers with electricity and natural gas.
Through Vistra’s Trees for Growth program employees volunteer at TXU Energy Urban Tree Farm and Education Center.
Vistra is the largest competitive power generator in the U.S., with a capacity of approximately 39,000 MW powered by a diverse portfolio, including natural gas, nuclear, solar, and battery energy storage facilities.
Vistra expects to invest, on average, $500M of equity per year on renewable generating assets (including solar and battery energy storage) and retail businesses as their portfolio continues to transition away from carbon-heavy generating resources.
Vistra has reclaimed 86,000+ acres, planted 42M+ native trees, and created or enhanced 7,000+ acres of wetlands, ponds, and stream channels on their restored lands, dramatically increasing water resources for the benefit of wildlife and livestock.
As of year-end 2020 Vistra had already achieved a 45% reduction in CO2 equivalent emissions compared to its 2010 baseline, or approximately 76% of its 2030 target. Additioanlly, Vistra has been able to reduce the amount of water needed to produce electricity, with a 42% reduction of water withdrawal over the last 10 years.
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