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Developing EPCOR's ESG Report: The Materiality Assessment

In early 2020, EPCOR established an internal, cross-functional team to develop an environmental, social and governance (ESG) scorecard and determine the best approach to communicating with internal and external stakeholders on ESG factors. EPCOR's Board of Directors and executive leadership oversaw the development of performance measures and reporting.

As part of the process, an external consultant conducted a materiality assessment to inform metrics and reporting about the sustainability issues that affect our business. The company's last assessment was completed in 2014, to inform an earlier generation of sustainability reporting.

Identifying and prioritizing the company's material ESG factors enables EPCOR to focus its resources on the areas of highest impact and on the ESG factors of most concern to stakeholders.

The approach to defining materiality

EPCOR's materiality assessment identifies both material ESG factors for capital market participants, and sustainability factors of interest to broader stakeholders. Interviews with external stakeholders included representatives of equity and debt holders, labor, Indigenous communities, and multi-stakeholder groups involved in watershed protection and broader environmental issues. The project team also considered customer priorities identified through public advisory committees, input from a concurrent consultation on the future of EPCOR's Edmonton water-cycle utilities, and engagement research.

A range of internal stakeholders were also interviewed, drawn from operational and corporate functions, and from across the company's geographic footprint. These interviews considered EPCOR's existing ESG priorities, policies and disclosures; external ESG regulations, rules and guidance; and relevant ESG standards and ratings programs.

EPCOR's top-ranked ESG factors

In ranking ESG factors, the materiality assessment considered:

  • Impact of an ESG factor to influence financial performance, operations, financial stakeholders or stakeholder perceptions in a way that causes impact to company value.
  • Likelihood of an ESG-related impact to occur over the short, medium or long term. The “likelihood" rating considers the company's unique operating circumstances and the nature and location of its operations.

These ratings are based on inherent risk, which provides insight into the key ESG-related factors that must be managed by the company. The company's performance on ESG is reflected in the extent to which risks are mitigated (residual risk) and through the quantitative and qualitative disclosure in this report.

​Top ranked factors

Social

  • Affordability and access to utility services
  • Community relations

Environment

  • Public health and safety and emergency management
  • Physical climate risk
  • Water and wastewater management

​High ranked factors

Governance

  • Business ethics and corporate governance

Environment

  • Greenhouse gas emissions

Social

  • Rights of indigenous peoples
  • Workforce health and safety
  • Human capital management

Generally, internal and external stakeholders held similar views on which topics were most material. One factor – human capital management – was ranked lower by external stakeholders, but elevated to the high-ranked level by EPCOR's leadership.

Stakeholders also considered additional factors, but ranked them lower overall. These included: climate transition risk, labor relations, biodiversity impacts, energy management, and distribution network efficiency and integrity. While EPCOR has strategies and actions in each of these areas, they are not the focus of the ESG report.