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Resolutions on political spending, coal ash fail at NextEra, PNM Resources

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Resolutions on political spending, coal ash fail at NextEra, PNM Resources

A NextEra Energy Inc. shareholder resolution to disclose political contributions and a PNM Resources Inc. shareholder proposal to publish a coal ash report for the San Juan Generating Station failed to pass at recent annual meetings.

At NextEra's May 23 meeting, 51.3% of the preliminary votes cast were for the New York State Common Retirement Fund's proposal for the company to fully report on its political spending and corporate contributions. The fund, which holds more than 1.4 million NextEra shares, considered the proposal to be consistent with public policy on public company disclosures.

"Company executives exercise wide discretion over the use of corporate resources for political purposes and relying only on the limited data available from the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service can give shareholders an incomplete picture of the company's political spending," said John Albanese, who represented the fund. "The New York State Fund believes that a complete disclosure by the company is necessary for shareholders to be able to fully evaluate the political use of corporate assets."

During PNM Resources' May 22 meeting, just 6.36% of shares voted were in favor of a proposal to have PNM Resources subsidiary Public Service Co. of New Mexico publish a report on the waste generated by the 847.0-MW San Juan coal-fired plant. The remaining units at the facility are set to retire by the end of 2022, while PNM and New Mexico have announced plans to become 100% reliant on clean power sources. However, PNM Shareholders for a Responsible Future, the group behind the proposal, expressed concerns about the environmental and financial costs from the plant's coal ash.

"The issue of contamination by [coal ash] has recently become of national concern," the group said. "We believe that the question is not whether the materials deposited at the mine will become a hazard but when."

PNM own 66.33% of the San Juan plant, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

NextEra and PNM Resources are the latest in a string of power companies to not pass shareholder resolutions on various environmental, social and governance issues. NRG Energy Inc. and CMS Energy Corp. shareholders rejected a proposed measure on disclosing political activity, while Dominion Energy Inc. stockholders did not adopt an independent chair policy. Duke Energy Corp. shareholders rejected all four proposals targeting its political spending, lobbying expenses, coal use and environment-related activities at its May 2 meeting.