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Alliant shareholders pass political resolution; items at 3 other companies fail

Shareholders of Alliant Energy Corp. passed a resolution calling for the utility to disclose its political activity spending, but those of three other energy companies rejected resolutions on that or other topics.

At Alliant's May 16 annual meeting, votes representing 54% of the company's shares backed a resolution floated by the New York City Comptroller's office, which manages the city's pension funds, the company reported. The comptroller asked Alliant to disclose its spending in connection with efforts to influence legislation or supporting political candidates and political committees. Alliant was not immediately available to comment on whether it intends to follow the recommendation of its shareholders.

Alliant is among the first energy companies this proxy season to have shareholders pass resolutions related to environmental, social or governance matters, although several energy companies are slated to hold their 2019 annual meetings later in the month.

Resolutions asking companies to disclose political activities and spending, report on environmental issues, or require that their chair be independent of executive leadership are the top three topics before energy companies in the 2019 proxy season. Shareholder resolutions are nonbinding in nature, but companies tend to heed measures that garner majority support.

In an emailed statement on May 21, Alliant said it takes "the vote seriously" but was noncommittal about whether it intends to follow the recommendation. Alliant "will look for opportunities to work with shareowners to address the concerns raised by their vote on this matter," the company said.

At DTE Energy Co.'s May 9 annual meeting, shareholders rejected a similar political spending disclosure resolution, with those representing 34% of shares backing the measure. Also, with a 39% vote in support, DTE shareholders failed to pass a resolution calling for the company to adopt a policy to have an independent chair in the future, DTE said.

Moreover, votes representing 43% of shares at Sempra Energy's May 9 annual meeting backed a resolution calling for an independent chair policy. And at the May 16 meeting of Continental Resources Inc., only 14% of shares voted in support of a resolution calling on the company to publish a report on potential long-term risks climate change poses to the company.

Shareholders at BP PLC's May 21 meeting in Scotland approved an investor-backed resolution aimed at broadening the way the company reports on its climate-related goals, however. BP had voiced support for the measure ahead of the meeting.