By Colin Fitzsimmons and Brad Watson
At Vistra, we do more than provide an essential product — electricity. It’s important for us to be a good neighbor and corporate citizen. We are guided by our core principles, which include doing business the right way and caring about our communities. With operations in 20 states, including Pennsylvania, we are investing where our employees and customers live and work.
Since 2019, Vistra and our leading Pennsylvania retail electricity brand, Dynegy, have donated nearly half a million dollars to supporting community partners that are making a difference locally. That means investing in food pantries, schools, fire departments, homeless shelters and organizations that are focused on environmental sustainability, social justice and racial equity.
Social Justice and Racial Equity
As part of a $10 million commitment to support organizations that grow minority-owned small businesses, enhance economic development, and provide educational opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds, Vistra and Dynegy are partnering with the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and the Urban League of Philadelphia.
The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh received $75,000 to advance its Black Female Leadership Institute, which encourages young African American women to embrace leadership roles in their communities. The league is also using the donation to fund the Center for Economic Reliance, a service hub designed to foster individual career progression and improve educational outcomes.
The Urban League of Philadelphia received $50,000 to fund its Entrepreneurship Center, which will help the organization assist small business owners with marketing efforts, provide one-on-one coaching to entrepreneurs, and offer business owners credit counseling and tax preparation services.
In addition to serving millions of retail electricity customers across the country, Vistra is also the largest competitive power generator in the nation with a capacity of about 39,000 megawatts, powered by a diverse portfolio of natural gas, nuclear, solar and battery energy storage facilities. We are working to build a cleaner, sustainable and healthier environment as we transition our fleet to low-to-no carbon sources.
Since 2002, Vistra has partnered with cities, counties, schools and nonprofits to provide more than 300,000 trees through our “Trees for Growth” initiative, which has helped to generate environmental savings and health benefits for municipalities and residents valued at approximately $37 million annually throughout the life of the trees.
Working with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School in Philadelphia, Dynegy is investing nearly $100,000 to plant 100 trees on the school campus and another 25 trees on streets adjacent to or near Bethune. The immediate benefits include more shade relief in a neighborhood where temperatures are regularly 4 degrees higher than Philadelphia’s average. Long-term, growing trees will help to grow young minds, as studies show that “greening” communities has the potential to advance academic achievement in urban schools.
On the other side of the state, Vistra and Dynegy partnered with “Tree Pittsburgh” to help replace thousands of acres of tree canopy lost over the years. Already, more than 380 trees have been planted throughout the city on the Eliza Furnace Trail and in Highland Park, Schenley Park, the Hazelwood Greenway, Chateau Trail, Polish Hill Gold Way, Polish Hill West Penn Park and the Allegheny River Greenway.
Each one of these trees will give the next generation the opportunity to enjoy the immense benefits that come from a healthy urban tree canopy.
Vistra and Dynegy remain committed to supporting organizations that are helping our communities through the worst of the pandemic. Nowhere has the need been more pronounced than with the state’s charitable anti-hunger network.
As part of a $225,000 commitment to food banks nationwide, Vistra and Dynegy donated $35,000 to Philabundance in Philadelphia, Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania, and food pantries supported by the Montgomery Foundation to help them meet their most pressing needs.
Our power plants — Liberty in Eddystone, Delaware County; Ontelaunee in Reading, Berks County; and Fayette in Masontown, Fayette County — support their local communities with thousands in donations annually.
We recognize the economic uncertainties many businesses face today, which is why Dynegy donated $20,000 to the Lehigh Valley Chamber’s COVID Relief fund to support small business walloped in the early months of the pandemic before federal dollars flowed.
Dynegy also responded with solutions like a new 90-Day Price Guarantee, which makes customers eligible for lower power price options if wholesale market prices decrease within the first 90 days of their contract. Other solutions include managing usage variances related to the COVID-19 shutdown and developing energy efficiency best practices to help businesses as they continue to reopen and recover.
These investments provide meaningful, direct and sustainable social benefits to strengthen the communities where we do business, where our plants operate and where our valued employees call home. For more information about our community giving programs, visit www.vistracorp.com/about/community-giving.
Colin Fitzsimmons is director of government affairs for Vistra; Brad Watson is senior director of community affairs for Dynegy.