I am sometimes asked to name the single most important component of TransCanada's effort to be socially and environmentally responsible. It's a tough question because our company contributes to the well-being of North Americans in so many ways.
Responsible delivery of essential services
Is it our long-standing commitment to investment in the communities where we work?
In 2009, we contributed more than $7 million to important initiatives that matter greatly to local communities. Our focus is on projects that emphasize education, health, the environment, human services, and civic investment.
Across the Midwest, for example, we spearheaded a fund-raising campaign that saw $100,000 in new donations earmarked for police services, fire departments and community organizations. This benefited first responders, children and the elderly in more than 50 communities. Projects like these make life better for people across the continent.
Is it the respect that TransCanada shows towards its employees, business partners, and community stakeholders?
Relationships are a key component of our success. We strive constantly to create and sustain a safe working environment that balances the professional and personal lives of our employees, encourages and celebrates greater diversity in our workforce, and rewards teamwork while inspiring innovation. We have top quartile employee engagement. We honour positive, longstanding relationships with our peers and our suppliers. We are always looking for opportunities to work more closely with exemplary companies, forward-thinking regulators, decisive policy-makers, and inspirational community leaders. We believe their wish to collaborate on our projects reflects the strong ethical values they see in us.
Or is it our stewardship of the environment?
We take great pride in the fact that our company, which constructs, operates and maintains a massive, 60,000-kilometre (37,000-mile) network of infrastructure across the continent, rarely faces the unwelcome challenge of an incident on one of our pipelines. On the occasions when we do, we are able to mobilize environmental experts and specialized equipment with remarkable speed and effectiveness. Part of the explanation for the scarcity of such events is the thoroughness and prudence with which we approach all project planning and development. The safety of people and the environment always comes first.
But our commitment to the environment goes far beyond superior infrastructure planning, installation and maintenance. We also contribute significantly to good causes ranging from the preservation of more than 1.2 million acres of remnant native parkland ecosystem near Red Deer, Alberta to safeguarding the breeding grounds of the Common Loon in Vermont. Prevention and conservation are our watchwords when it comes to the environment.
As these examples make clear, corporate responsibility does not reside in a single policy or action. Rather, it is an attitude that permeates our company. At TransCanada, there is a pervasive culture of responsibility supporting everything we do. You can trace it from the boardroom to the workplace, and from the natural environment to the human environment of all the communities we touch every day.
Consider for a moment the tagline of our new employee recruitment initiative — "Make What You Do Matter". This tagline was inspired by the comments of our employees.
TransCanada projects are so broad in scope and large in scale that the work of a single employee can actually make a significant difference to the lives of millions in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Our 4,100 employees enthusiastically shoulder such tremendous responsibilities each and every day. They're up to the challenge. That's why we hire them. And it's a big part of why people love working here. Our employees work collaboratively to make a difference.
At TransCanada, every employee and contractor is acutely aware that we alone are responsible for delivering the gas and keeping the lights on across a vast expanse of North America. The minute we fail at those tasks is the minute we renege on our promise of reliability and security to hundreds of thousands of people who count on us. We are, in short, an essential service.
As an essential service, we are always asking ourselves how we can do even better. Given that we are in the energy business, we believe the most important thing we can do is to increase our energy efficiency without sacrificing the reliability that is so important to our customers. We have already achieved that in many ways.
For example, we pioneered the development of friction-reducing, internal pipeline coatings that cut the amount of energy it takes to move natural gas to market. And we installed combined-cycle gas turbines in Ontario that meet growing electricity needs while reducing the consumption of the gas needed to power generating plants. We could cite many similar, energy efficient innovations.
Whenever we design and implement more efficient technologies like these, we make it possible for the world to do more with less. This conserves strategic natural resources and benefits the environment without compromising the way of life that North Americans have come to expect.
That's why we consider our efficient and reliable delivery of essential services to be the most important component of our broad social and environmental responsibility. That's what we believe TransCanada should aim for in all its endeavours. That's what you can expect to see more of as we continue to build North America's leading energy infrastructure company.
TransCanada is, and will continue to be, a responsible partner in the lives of millions of North Americans.
President and Chief Executive Officer