Dear customers and investors,
ALLETE is putting sustainability into action while honoring our commitments to the climate, our customers and the communities we serve. Building strong communities goes hand-in-hand with caring for the environment. People, planet, and prosperity are part of who we are and what we do every day.
At ALLETE, we recognize that impacts from climate change are real – we have taken action, and are committed to doing more. Our overall strategy is to enhance and grow our companies by providing sustainable energy solutions to meet changing societal expectations and evolving regulations.
All of our companies are engaged in this effort. Minnesota Power began delivering 50% renewable energy to customers in late 2020, the first Minnesota utility to achieve that milestone. Just one month later, the company announced its vision to deliver 100% carbon-free energy by 2050 with interim targets to reach 70% renewable energy and close one of two remaining coal units by 2030, and to achieve an 80% reduction in carbon emissions and coal-free operations by 2035. Our other utility company, Superior Water, Light & Power in Wisconsin, receives its energy from Minnesota Power and shares in these carbon-reduction and climate goals.
ALLETE Clean Energy continues to expand its national footprint through its success in creating clean-energy solutions for its customers. In 2020, it added two new wind projects to increase its wind facility portfolio to more than 1,000 megawatts (MWs) across seven states, and it has another 300-megawatt wind site under construction. ALLETE Clean Energy is now building on its reputation and strong track record of success to expand its focus beyond wind to additional opportunities within the clean-energy space.
BNI Energy’s focus on sustainability involves supporting its customer to advance an ambitious project to take the carbon emissions from a neighboring power plant and safely sequester them deep underground. If successful, it could make North Dakota’s lignite a valuable source of clean, affordable and reliable energy for decades to come.
Our view of sustainability, however, goes beyond reaching these important environmental and climate goals. It includes supporting our customers and local communities to foster a healthy and thriving society. While our companies provide essential services that are the backbone of our modern society, we also play an essential role in that society. As events of the past year have shown, we need resilient, equitable communities that offer diverse economic opportunities for everyone.
In viewing sustainability through that lens, we know that our actions outside of the clean-energy transition are critically important. We believe we must nurture a more diverse workforce to help build stronger communities. To do so, we strive to create a work culture that embraces employees’ unique backgrounds, talents and perspectives and encourages them to achieve their fullest potential. With integrity as our foundation, we have created a corporate governance structure that serves as an example of diversity, equity and inclusion from the top down, and we have more work to do.
As a leading company in the region, our financial choices also can have a big impact. We have initiatives underway to support diverse businesses through our investment and purchasing decisions. It is equally important that we thoughtfully address our region’s social needs through our distribution of grants. We are committed to supporting programs that focus on education, income inequality, social justice and the opportunity gap.
The COVID-19 pandemic and turmoil during the past year exposed these social problems even further, prompting corporate and employee giving focused on immediate needs along with our usual broad donations. With many families working and learning from home, and the high demand for health-care services, the pandemic also reaffirmed the value of our essential, 24/7 energy services.
We have a saying at ALLETE that we strive to achieve “the right results, the right way.” This sustainability report highlights the many ways we achieved the right results, the right way for the climate, our customers, our communities and our employees. When we all work together to build equitable, healthy communities served by increasingly clean energy, we create the change we wish to see and build a better world for tomorrow.
Bethany M. Owen
ALLETE President and CEO