About this report
TransAlta is committed to sustainable business practices. We conduct business in a manner that balances meaningful contributions to society with ongoing economic well being, while minimizing environmental impact. We provide regular reports of our progress; our 2009 Report on Sustainability is our 14th annual report and was produced in June 2010.
This report follows the intent of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G3 Guidelines. The GRI is an independent, multi-national and multi-stakeholder organization representing business, the environment, labour and human rights issues. By following the tenets set forth by the GRI, we are able to ensure we provide accurate, consistent, credible and transparent reporting that is comparable to other leading sustainable organizations.
A GRI Index is included in this report for ease of navigation to particular GRI components. We have provided progress updates on the targets included in last year’s report within the content of this report.
A GRI supplement for electrical companies was issued in April 2009. TransAlta has reported on those indicators within the supplement that are most relevant to our business.
Reporting on what matters
The topics and indicators in this report have been selected according to an extensive iterative process that included:
- interviews with approximately 35 TransAlta employees at all levels and locations of the organization
- continual review of emerging issues in sustainability by TransAlta’s Sustainable Development team
- identification of material risks to the organization through our comprehensive enterprise risk management process
- expert review of sustainability issues through the TransAlta-sponsored Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economics Chair, at the University of Calgary
- indicators and issues that are tracked and reported internally
- involvement in numerous external policy groups and task forces that identify key challenges for our industry at all of our locations
- social and environmental responsibility investor reports and indices, and
- at a minimum, information and data that is deemed significant and that requires reporting by regulators and industry associations
This report covers the calendar year ending December 31, 2009, though in some instances we have also included significant events from early 2010. All dollar amounts are in Canadian funds unless otherwise noted.
In late 2009, TransAlta acquired Canadian Hydro Developers. Given that we did not have management control of the company until late 2009, Canadian Hydro Developers data has not been included in this report except for employee numbers and turnover rate and reference to generation capacity within the text of the report.
We report environmental data for power plants for which TransAlta holds the operating permit, regardless of financial ownership. We report on the health and safety aspects of all TransAlta operated facilities where the employees and contractors are hired by TransAlta.
The following facilities are not reported in this statistical summary because TransAlta does not hold the operating permits, but may be reported in TransAlta’s 2009 Annual Report with respect to financial performance:
- Genesee 3, Alberta
- Imperial Valley geothermal assets, California
- Power Resources Inc., Texas
- Sheerness plant, Alberta
- Yuma plant, Arizona
- Wailuku, Hawaii
- Saranac, New York
The following facility’s environmental performance is not included in this statistical summary but the health and safety indicators reflect the performance of TransAlta employees and contractors onsite:
- Poplar Creek plant, Alberta (operating permit not held by TransAlta)
Megawatt hours used to calculate environment, health and safety data in this report differ slightly from electricity production reported in our 2009 Annual Report due to the exceptions noted above. Reporting of financial performance in this report is based on the proportion of financial ownership and the scope is consistent with our 2009 Annual Report, regardless of the exclusions cited above.
We report our activities corporately and by country. We cover direct operational impacts and do not include supply chain impacts such as emissions from product suppliers.
We discuss achievements that result directly from our actions. We report performance frequently through totals and ratios. We use total emissions to show environmental impacts. We use emission intensity rates (for example, emissions per megawatt hour) to measure our operations’ efficiency in controlling emissions.
We collect data on various parameters from our facilities in the areas that we operate. The data presented in this report is gathered from the subject experts at those facilities in a standardized template with set methodologies and uncertainty factors at the end of each year. All data is reviewed by the subject expert and is entered into a corporate database where the data is again reviewed for accuracy and comparability to previous year’s data and similar operations data by an independent internal data manager. When anomalies in data are detected, the data manager seeks clarification and explanation for the anomaly and notes are made on the results of the follow-up.
In 2008 TransAlta’s Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) group established an overall strategy to standardize the information technology for EH&S data, while continuing to optimize the technical capabilities of the various required solutions. To meet the requirement of providing automated, easily auditable and a consistently applied emissions management tool and process, the group has been developing and testing the opsEnvironmental application for air emissions since 2008. At the time of this report preparation we are in the final stages of testing and will be conducting a parallel run to existing systems and methods in 2010 and 2011, with full utilization planned to occur in 2012. Once operational, we will expand to include other key indicators identified within the Report on Sustainability.
In the preparation of the 2009 report, we engaged a third party, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, to review our methodologies, data collection and analysis processes used to compile data for our annual Report on Sustainability. The results of that review will help us identify areas for improvement.
In 2007, as required by Alberta Environment’s Specified Gas Emitter’s Regulation, TransAlta calculated and submitted its baseline greenhouse gas emission intensity rate for our Alberta thermal plants, Highvale Mine and Fort Saskatchewan plant. Third-party verification of the application was conducted by CH2MHill. In 2009, an annual compliance report was submitted for each location cited above, under this regulation. These reports were also verified by CH2MHill.
This document, documents incorporated herein by reference, and other reports and filings made with the securities regulatory authorities, include forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are based on our beliefs as well as assumptions based on information available at the time the assumption was made. In some cases, forward-looking statements can be identified by terms such as ‘‘may’’, ‘‘will’’, ‘‘believe’’, ‘‘expect’’, ‘‘potential’’, ‘‘enable’’, ‘‘continue’’ or other comparable terminology. These statements are not guarantees of our future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other important factors that could cause our actual performance to be materially different from those projected. Some of the risks, uncertainties, and factors include, but are not limited to electricity demand and generation capacity, plant availability, cost and availability of fuel necessary for the production of electricity, legislative and regulatory developments, costs associated with environmental compliance, overall costs, competition, global capital markets activity, changes in prevailing interest rates, currency exchange rates, inflation levels and general economic conditions in geographic areas where we operate, results of financing efforts, changes in counterparty risk and the impact of accounting policies issued by Canadian and U.S. standard setters. Given these uncertainties, readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is given as of the date hereof or otherwise, and we do not undertake to publicly update these forward-looking statements to reflect new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable laws.