AGL has announced sweeping changes to its Board of Directors at its 2022 Annual General Meeting (AGM), electing renewable heavyweights to senior management positions and listing several decarbonisation initiatives in its renewed strategic direction.
The energy company – Australia’s foremost carbon emitter – has recently faced intense media scrutiny, and an attempted takeover from billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes for allegedly failing to prioritise clean energy initiatives.
Now, the company has confirmed sweeping changes to both its Board of Directors and strategic direction, signalling that it will prioritise renewable and carbon neutral energy initiatives.
Former head of the Energy Security Board, Dr Kerry Schott; former Tesla executive, Mark Twidell; Professor John Pollaers, and CSR director, Christine Holman, will now join the AGL board.
Speaking at the event AGL Chair, Patricia McKenzie, said the appointments reflected AGL’s newfound interest in decarbonisation; motivated by overwhelming support from company shareholders.
“AGL now has a renewed board and management team and has set a new strategic direction – one that shapes a stronger, more sustainable future for AGL by embarking on one of Australia’s most significant decarbonisation initiatives,” Ms McKenzie said.
“Having listened to our stakeholders – in particular our shareholders, we also know it’s what our community expects of us and – above all – it’s the right thing to do.”
Ms McKenzie drew particular attention to the appointment of Mr Twidell, suggesting his recent experience with the electric vehicle juggernaut Tesla would prove a ‘valuable addition’ to AGL’s senior management.
“The Board determined that Mark Twidell, who brings customer facing experience as well as more than 30 years of experience in the international energy sector, most recently as Director, Energy Programs at Tesla, would prove a valuable addition to the Board and the Board recommended that Shareholders vote in favour of his election,” Ms McKenzie said.
AGL shareholders voted in support of both the appointments and new strategic direction, which outlined renewed priorities for the company, including:
- The targeted closure of the Loy Yang power station by the end of FY35, up to ten years earlier than previously announced
- An ambition to add up to 12GW of new renewable and firming capacity by 2036, which will require a total investment of up to $20 billion; and an interim target to have up to 5GW of new renewables and firming in place by 2030
- An unwavering focus on its customers as a continued major retailer of essential services, supplying affordable energy, supporting electrification and their transition to a low carbon future
- An unchanged commitment to rejuvenate its operating sites into low-carbon Energy Hubs
The new direction has received praise from the climate activism group, Greenpeace, which has campaigned against the company’s continued reliance on carbon-intensive fossil fuels.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner, Glenn Walker, said AGL’s renewed leadership is an important step in the company’s energy transition, but that the company must significantly pick up the pace.
“The exciting new leadership at AGL signals the start of a potential transformation of Australia’s biggest climate polluter to a renewable energy powerhouse, but there’s a need for speed,” Mr Walker said.
“After years in the coal doldrums AGL now faces serious competition in the renewable transition, with rival Origin set to get a $20 billion renewable development cash injection from new owners Brookfield.
“After an intense Greenpeace campaign that saw AGL bring forward the closure of its dirtiest coal-burner Loy Yang A, AGL’s shown it can move when pushed. Now it has the chance to really pick up the pace, bring forward the closure of its loss-making coal assets even further to 2030, and focus on renewables.”
The recent announcements were also supported by The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) and its Executive Director, Brynn O’Brien, who said the announcements were ‘history making’.
“History has been made today. The board of an Australian listed company has been transformed by shareholders over its handling of climate risks,” Mr O’Brien said.
“This is both a victory for shareholders and a scathing indictment on those who spent years destroying shareholder value by delaying the inevitable in the face of an escalating energy transition. It is vital that lessons are learned from AGL’s colossal waste of time and shareholder funds.
“Today’s events have demonstrated that the direction of high emitting companies can change and that energy transition is an immense opportunity that must be harnessed to enhance shareholder value and mitigate climate risk.”