Enbridge defends decision to sell onshore renewables as climate action increases

Enbridge defended its plan to sell its onshore renewable assets Tuesday on a day that saw major climate change commitments emerge from a conference in Paris.

Speaking at an investor conference in New York, company CEO Al Monaco said the sell-off made sense for now, but that it didn’t mean any fundamental shift for Enbridge away from renewables.

“We still believe in the notion that we are transitioning to a lower carbon future,” said Monaco.

The company has, however, singled out its onshore wind and solar farms scattered across North America as part of its planned $10 billion in asset sales, with a target of $3 billion to be sold next year.

Monaco said Enbridge was an early mover in the renewable space with numerous projects now built, and the planned sales are the result of strong valuations for a segment that doesn’t fit with the company’s core focus for now.

“Going forward we’ll de-emphasize on-shore renewables, and monetize at least half the assets, which … are highly valued in the marketplace today.”

High valuations for renewable projects also prompted TransCanada Corp. to sell off much of its renewable holdings while maintaining that it hasn’t made any fundamental shift away from the sector.

Enbridge, though, will still have significant exposure to the renewables space through its offshore wind projects underway in Europe. Monaco said that along with current commitments, the company sees anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion in potential investments offshore after 2020.

Monaco’s comments come as companies and financial institutions continue to make shifts away from fossil fuels, with major commitments coming from the One Planet Summit in Paris.

The World Bank Group said Tuesday it would no longer finance upstream oil and gas projects after 2019, while French insurance giant AXA said it would completely sell off its roughly $1.1 billion oilsands and associated pipelines investments.

Late Monday, ExxonMobil Corp. also committed in regulatory filings to greater disclosure on the potential impacts of climate change policies.

Monaco said Enbridge also continues to work to improve transparency on climate change issues.

“It’s a big factor today in the marketplace. And environmental, social, and governance factors need to be well outlined to investors.”

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