Happy Memorial Day and holiday week!

May 28, 2015 - This week, we have some short and sweet re-postings to enjoy.  Ann Yerger writes about looking back on 30 years of corporate governance at the Council of Institutional Investors (CII), written for the conference held a few weeks ago.  The NYT has an interesting piece on the potential impact of the new Tesla battery factory, which has the prospect of changing energy use in cars, homes and offices.  And we’d like to share a great piece of reporting from the Carbon War Room on efficiency gains from adopting new renewable technologies.  

Looking Back at 30 Years of Leadership on Corporate Governance

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By Ann Yerger

March 31, 2015 - This spring, as CII celebrates its 30th anniversary, it’s worth remembering how far our organization, and institutional investors generally, have traveled.

Thirty years ago, the Dow Jones was at 1200. The Vanguard 500 Index Fund, the first index mutual fund available to the general public, was only 10 years old. Institutional investors owned on average about a third of U.S. equities. And activists—then called corporate raiders—were making headlines (some things don’t change all that much).
From the start, CII pushed the boundaries. Its first efforts focused on organizing unprecedented meetings between management and institutional shareholders. CII adopted the first-ever “Shareholder Bill of Rights” setting out what members believed were basic rights for shareholders. Today these principles are mainstream; many have been embraced by business groups such as the Business Roundtable.

Much has happened in three decades. Institutional investors now own more than half of the U.S. equity market and more than 70 percent of the largest U.S. companies. Investors have weathered Black Monday, the dot com bust, the corporate scandal era of Enron and WorldCom, and the global financial crisis.


News: Con-Way, Frito Lay, and Twelve Other Fleets See 19% Efficiency Gains from Adopting Technologies

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By Carbon War Room

May 6, 2015 – Dallas, Texas – Fourteen fleets operating more than 53,000 tractors and 160,000trailers achieved fuel savings of $477 million in 2014 by adopting a variety of fuel efficiency technologies, according to the Annual Fleet Fuel Study released by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE).

These fleets represent a growing focus on fuel efficiency in the industry.  The fleet improvements save $9,000 per year per truck, with an estimated payback period of two and a half years, and reduce their carbon emissions by 19%.

This year’s study found the adoption of fuel-saving technologies had increased from 18% in 2003 to 42% in 2014.  As a result, the 14 fleets have achieved 70 mpg on average for all their trucks, while their 2015 model year trucks have reached as high as 8.5 mpg.  That is well above the national average of 5.9 mpg, reported by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.

The 14 fleets included in the study achieved this high level of fuel efficiency by adopting a combination of nearly 70 currently-available technologies and engaging the resources and guidance of Trucking Efficiency, a joint effort of NACFE and Carbon War Room (CWR). 


With New Factory, Tesla Ventures Into Solar Power Storage for Home and Business

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By Diane Cardwell

May 1, 2015 - In recent years, the fast-growing popularity of solar panels has intensified a central challenge: how to use the sun’s energy when it isn’t shining.

Now, Tesla Motors, the maker of luxury electric sedans, says it is taking a big step toward meeting that challenge with a fleet of battery systems aimed at homeowners, businesses and utilities. The company’s foray into the solar storage market will include rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs that can mount to a home garage wall as well as battery blocks large enough to smooth out fluctuations in the grid.

“We’ve obviously been working on building a world-class battery, a superefficient and affordable way to store energy,” said Khobi Brooklyn, a Tesla spokeswoman. “It’s just that we’ve been putting that battery in cars most of the time.”

To herald its ambitions in the field, the company scheduled an event Thursday night at its design studio in Hawthorne, Calif., with Elon Musk, its chief executive, presiding.

In a news conference before the event, Mr. Musk said the consumer battery, called the Powerwall, would sell for $3,500, and was derived from the batteries that Tesla uses in its Model S vehicles. The device, which Tesla will start producing later this year, will be installed by licensed technicians.

The batteries will be connected to the Internet and can be managed by Tesla from afar. Customers can connect up to nine battery packs to store larger amounts of power.

“If you have the Tesla Powerwall, if the utility goes down, you still have power,” Mr. Musk said. He added: “The whole thing is an integrated system that just works.”


©2015 Heartland Capital Strategies