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The Relationship between the Environmental and Financial Performance of Public Utilities


  • Greg Filbeck
  • Raymond Gorman



A growing body of research has centered on theissue of the relationship between financial andenvironmental performance. The lack ofconsensus in this literature can be attributedto several factors. The cost of complying withenvironmental regulation can be significant anddetrimental to shareholder wealth maximization.Conversely, a firm that can effectively controlpollution might also be able to effectivelycontrol other costs of production and henceearn a higher rate of return. We utilize datafrom the Investor Responsibility ResearchCenter as well as a proprietary database toinvestigate the relationship betweenenvironmental performance and financialperformance in electric utilities. Utilities,as producers and distributors of energy,produce substantial amounts of pollution.However, since public utilities are regulated,studying the financial and environmentalperformance of utilities affords us theopportunity to see what role regulation playsin enhancing or diminishing the relationshipbetween financial and environmentalperformance.Our results differ from earlier studies in thatwe find do not find a positive relationshipbetween holding period returns and anindustry-adjusted measure of environmentalperformance nor do we find that regulatoryclimate appears to explain returns. While theredoes not appear to be a clearly definedrelationship between regulatory climate and acompliance based measure of environmentalperformance, there is evidence of a negativerelationship between financial return and amore pro-active measure of environmentalperformance. We offer several possibleinterpretations of these results and extensionsfor future research. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Suggested Citation

  • Greg Filbeck & Raymond Gorman, 2004. "The Relationship between the Environmental and Financial Performance of Public Utilities," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 29(2), pages 137-157, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:29:y:2004:i:2:p:137-157
    DOI: 10.1023/B:EARE.0000044602.86367.ff

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    References listed on IDEAS

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