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Columbia Energy Exchange

Jim Hempstead – Taking Stock of ESG Risks for Utilities

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks are becoming increasingly important to judging the credit worthiness of electric utilities, especially as climate change makes their work more challenging.

On this episode of the Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks to Jim Hempstead, a managing director in Moody’s Global Project and Infrastructure Finance Group. In his role at Moody’s, one of the largest credit ratings firms in the world, Jim helps oversee the North American Regulated Utility and Power Team. He also heads Moody’s working group in charge of ESG issues in the Americas.

In the conversation with Bill, Jim makes clear that defining ESG standards is still very much a work in progress for the credit rating firms and the companies they assess for credit worthiness. Nevertheless, ESG metrics are an important means of evaluating the utility sector where shifts are occurring not only due to climate change but also from public policies, market forces, and public attitudes about how electricity is produced and used.

Jim and Bill also talk about the relevance of government policy and regulation as it relates to ESG and the power sector, including recent developments in Washington D.C. and the enactment of an historic climate law in California.


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