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Most Electricity Distribution Utilities Are Optimistic and Expect Earnings to Grow Beyond 2025, According to Research from Accenture

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More than nine in 10 utilities executives (94 percent) believe that their electricity distribution business earnings growth will remain under severe pressure until approximately 2025. However, theyre far more optimistic about earnings growth potential in the subsequent years, driven by efficiency and improved network performance enabled by the latest digital technologies and new business opportunities, according to a new study from Accenture (NYSE:ACN).

Part of Accentures Digitally Enabled Grid research program, now in its fifth year, the study is based on a survey of 150 utilities executives across more than 25 countries. After several years of disruption driven by regulatory pressure, new technologies such as distributed generation, shifting consumer dynamics and weaker demand the challenging environment will continue to stymie distributors earnings growth in the near term. The top reasons given for this were network capital investment levels falling below depreciation (cited by 16 percent of respondents), increasing targets for service reliability and performance regulation (13 percent), and energy demand erosion (13 percent).

Furthermore, while digital technologies could play a key role in unlocking value in the business and enabling growth, most executives 93 percent believe that distribution businesses are struggling to deliver the benefits of digital transformation. The research indicates that with the greatest threat to utilities business considered to be the performance of other utilities (cited by 25 percent of respondents), theres a need to act quickly to remain competitive.

However, there is reason for optimism in the long term, as 97 percent expect earnings in their distribution business to grow beyond 2025. Specifically, executives expect the earnings growth to be driven largely by improved efficiency from transformed core business processes (cited by 54 percent of respondents), improved network performance from smarter grids (50 percent), revenue opportunities from core distribution services (43 percent), new services like microgrids (40 percent), and new asset plays, including distributed generation and storage (40 percent).

In addition, Accentures modelling of residential and commercial electricity demand revealed progressive easing of stagnant demand growth until 2036 in most geographies.

Distribution businesses revenues are being negatively impacted by the proliferation of distributed energy resources, tighter regulated revenue controls, and energy efficiency, said Stephanie Jamison, a managing director at Accenture who leads its Transmission and Distribution business. Improved operational performance will be key to succeeding in this transition. Distribution businesses have the opportunity to become intelligent grid optimizers, developing and scaling advanced grid operations capabilities to accommodate, operate and navigate a fast-changing ecosystem of energy devices being adopted for homes and businesses.

Digitally transforming core operations can boost efficiency, enabling new revenue opportunities

The latest digital technologies will play a key role in transforming the core distribution business to boost efficiency and increase network performance. When asked to identify the three disruptive technologies they believe would have the most beneficial impact on their business operations by 2025, respondents most often cited autonomous vehicles like drones (59 percent), digital twin (55 percent), artificial intelligence (AI) (54 percent), augmented and virtual reality (47 percent), blockchain (44 percent) and autonomous robots (41 percent). In fact, nearly all respondents 99 percent believe that AI will be used routinely in decision support in the control room and in network planning by 2025.

Digitally transforming the core business can also unlock investment capacity, enabling distribution businesses to pursue new revenue opportunities, according to the study. When asked to identify growth opportunities for their business going forward, a majority of respondents in geographies where pursuing such opportunities would be allowed by regulation cited owning assets like large-scale distributed generation (71 percent), grid-connected storage (68 percent) and electric-vehicle charging infrastructure (65 percent).

Utilities executives also expect to become the trusted third-party provider of energy-related data services to consumers. For example, more than three-quarters (77 percent) of respondents cited providing distribution tariff information as a growth opportunity, and more than two-thirds said the same thing about demand-response program information and notifications and energy usage information (71 percent and 69 percent, respectively).

Distribution companies have the opportunity to lead the debate about the most effective regulatory model to support the electricity system, Jamison said. The model should foster innovation, expand customer choice and deliver efficiency while providing the opportunity for the highest-performing businesses to reap financial rewards. Distribution companies are well-placed to help accelerate the transformation process to create a more-distributed, low-carbon and customer-centric electricity system.

Research Methodology

Accentures annual Digitally Enabled Grid research evaluates the implications and opportunities of an increasingly digital grid. As part of this years research, Accenture surveyed 150 utility executives from 25 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China (including Macau and Hong Kong), Denmark, France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States; the qualitative online survey was conducted in February and March 2018. In addition, Accenture developed a geo-level electricity demand impact model to quantify the forecasted combined hourly impact of individual electricity demand drivers for a selected sample of countries and U.S. states.

About Accenture

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions underpinned by the worlds largest delivery network Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 459,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.

Guy Cantwell
Accenture
+ 1 281 900 9089
[email protected]
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Matt
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Accenture
+ 44 755 784 9009
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Lument Provides $21.5 Million in Freddie Mac Financing for Affordable Housing in El Paso

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NEW YORK, Dec. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Lument, a national leader in commercial real estate finance,   announced today that it provided a $21.5 million Freddie Mac unfunded forward commitment loan to facilitate the substantial renovation of Jackie Robinson Memorial Apartments, an affordable multifamily property in El Paso, Texas.  Lument is the combined organization of legacy industry experts Hunt Real Estate Capital, Lancaster Pollard, and RED Capital Group.

“By combining the Freddie Mac unfunded forward loan with tax credit equity and other soft funding sources, we were able to put in place an attractive debt structure to help improve these much-needed affordable apartments,” said Josh Reiss, director at Lument.

Originally built in 1975, Jackie Robinson is a 186-unit, 4% low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) community in the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP) portfolio. As part of the transaction, the property will receive Section 8 assistance that will facilitate the conversion to long-term, project-based voucher (PBV) rental assistance. Subsequently, all 186 units will be restricted to tenants earning income at or below 60% area median income (AMI).

The $21.5 million Freddie Mac loan features a low, fixed interest rate, 18-year term with three years of interest only, and a 35-year amortization schedule. The forward commitment term will be 30 months with one six-month extension.

Jackie Robinson will undergo substantial interior and exterior construction, including a gut renovation of all residential units, from new drywall to new kitchen appliances. In addition, exteriors will be improved with new windows and doors, repaired or replaced roofs, and new stair towers.

Construction began in October 2020 and is expected to be complete within 24 months.

Mr. Reiss and the Lument team have financed over 960 units in partnership with HACEP, totaling $41 million. Since 2015, the team has financed over $565 million in RAD transactions for a total of approximately 6,500 units.

About Lument
ORIX Real Estate Capital Holdings, LLC, d/b/a Lument, is a subsidiary of ORIX Corporation USA. Lument is a national leader in commercial real estate finance. As the combined organization of legacy industry experts Hunt Real Estate Capital, Lancaster Pollard, and RED Capital Group, Lument delivers a comprehensive set of capital solutions customized for investors in multifamily, affordable housing, and seniors housing and healthcare real estate. Lument is a Fannie Mae DUS®, Freddie Mac Optigo®, FHA, and USDA lender. In addition, Lument offers a suite of proprietary commercial lending, investment banking, and investment management solutions. Lument has approximately 600 employees in over 25 offices across the United States. Securities, investment banking, and advisory services are provided through OREC Securities, LLC, d/b/a Lument Securities. Member FINRA/SIPC. For more information, visit www.lument.com.

MEDIA CONTACT                                                                                                           
Michael Ratliff | Marketing Director
212-588-2163 | [email protected]

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Edward Jones Named One of the 2020 Best Workplaces for Parents™ by Great Place to Work® and FORTUNE Magazine

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ST. LOUIS, Dec. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Financial-services firm Edward Jones has been named one of the 2020 Best Workplaces for Parents by Great Place to Work® and FORTUNE Magazine. The firm, ranked No. 7 on the list of 100 companies, earned this award for creating consistently positive experiences for working parents.

Great Place to Work determined the Best Workplaces for Parents by gathering and analyzing employee experience feedback representing 4.8 million U.S. employees across more than 20 industries – the largest annual study of working parents to date.

“Edward Jones is extremely proud of this recognition that spotlights the work environment we've built, and evolved, to support our parents. This is particularly significant in light of the difficult and novel challenges facing parents this year,” said Kristin Johnson, Edward Jones Chief Human Resources Officer. “We strive to create a people-first culture for all associates that allows them to effectively manage their commitment both to our clients and to their families.”

Since forming in Spring 2020, the Edward Jones Parental/COVID-19 Taskforce has acted as a key listening post and strategy team advocating for the needs of associates, their families and working in a remote environment. The 20-member taskforce, with representatives from multiple areas of the firm, has created critical policies, programs and solutions that provide support for navigating pandemic-related issues in five areas: workplace flexibility, time off, dependent care and educational support for children, health and wellness, and financial support.

Support for parents and families includes:

  • Associates in distress due to COVID-related financial challenges can look to help from the Edward Jones Disaster Relief Fund. Associates and retirees donated $930,000 to the fund this summer to assist colleagues.
  • To help ease family concerns around health expenses, the Edward Jones medical plan provides no-cost care for COVID-related testing and treatment through the end of 2020. And to remove barriers to care and the burden of costs, the firm waived the deductible for the treatment of COVID-19 from both in- and out-of-network providers.
  • Associates have 10 extra personal days this year, and we've revised our sick/safe time policy, allowing associates to use sick time for any COVID-related reason, including childcare needs, through the end of the year.
  • Many associates have worked remotely since mid-March, allowing parents to be with children and other dependents as schools and care centers closed.
  • The firm's Investing in You website contains a wealth of information for families struggling to balance childcare, at-home learning and work. There are 60-plus resources for working parents. The firm also offers free online webinars on subjects such as helping kids cope with pandemic anxiety as they return to school, how working parents can structure their day, and how to manage their workspace and teaching space.

Rankings are based primarily on parents' scores of trust and fairness across the company culture, including levels of trust, pride, management effectiveness, innovation, diversity and equity. The analysis focused on how parents' workplace experiences compare to those of their non-working colleagues and determining whether their job level, race/ethnicity or any personal characteristic changed the level of support they received as a working parent. Finally, each company's parental leave, adoption, flexible schedule, childcare and dependent health care benefits were evaluated.

“Best workplaces like Edward Jones have built dynamic, flexible, and transparent workplaces built on trust,” said Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. “This gives companies on this list a powerful opportunity not just to do well for their people, but also to do well for their businesses.”

About Edward Jones

Edward Jones, a FORTUNE 500 firm headquartered in St. Louis, provides financial services in the U.S. and, through its affiliate, in Canada. Every aspect of the firm's business, from the investments its financial advisors offer to the location of its branch offices caters to individual investors. The firm's 19,000-plus financial advisors serve more than 7 million clients and care for $1.3 trillion in assets under management.  The Edward Jones website is at www.edwardjones.com, and its recruiting Web site is www.careers.edwardjones.com. Member SIPC.

About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on workplace culture. Since 1992, they have surveyed more than 100 million employees around the world and used those deep insights to define what makes a great workplace: trust. Great Place to Work helps organizations quantify their culture and produce better business results by creating a high-trust work experience for all employees. Emprising®, their culture management platform, empowers leaders with the surveys, real-time reporting, and insights they need to make data-driven people decisions. Their unparalleled benchmark data is used to recognize Great Place to Work-Certified™ companies and the Best Workplaces™ in the US and more than 60 countries, including the 100 Best Companies to Work For® and World's Best Workplaces list published annually in Fortune. Everything they do is driven by the mission to build a better world by helping every organization become a great place to work For All™.

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SOURCE Edward Jones

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Former SEC Senior Counsel Strengthens McDermott's Investigation & Litigation Bench

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BOSTON, Dec. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — International law firm McDermott Will & Emery continues to grow its litigation footprint with the addition of Boston-based partner Caitlyn M. Campbell, former senior counsel to the co-directors of the Division of Enforcement at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), who brings significant experience in SEC investigations, international investigations, anti-corruption matters as well as securities and derivative litigation.

“Clients will immediately benefit from Caitlyn's sharp business acumen and well-balanced experience between private practice and as a highly accomplished SEC enforcement lawyer,” David Rosenbloom, head of McDermott's litigation practice, said. “Caitlyn recognizes that success is achieved by understanding our clients' businesses, investing in their success and putting their interests first as she works on their behalf as a fearless advocate in the face of tough government actions.”

Caitlyn spent eight years at the SEC, most recently advising the co-directors of the Enforcement Division in Washington, DC. Previously, she served as senior investigative counsel where she led all aspects of investigations involving complex insider trading schemes, market abuse, market manipulation, misappropriation of investor funds, accounting fraud, investment adviser fraud and the Immigrant Investor Program. In addition to her investigative work, Caitlyn co-chaired the committee tasked with proactively detecting accounting and disclosure fraud in the New England region, served as the liaison to the national Financial Reporting and Audit Group and was a member of the Enforcement Division's COVID-19 Steering Committee.

“I am honored that my return to private practice is with McDermott, and I am confident I can provide clients with world-class service and the informed counsel they need to tackle their most pressing issues,” Caitlyn said. “I look forward to joining the exceptional team of lawyers at McDermott and finding creative solutions to our clients' most complex problems, drawing on the knowledge and experience I have gained at the SEC.”

Caitlyn focuses her private practice on securities class action and derivative litigation, and compliance matters with extensive experience in matters involving potential violations of the federal securities laws, including accounting issues, various issues in the investment management industry, insider trading, anti-corruption and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance and whistleblower claims. Caitlyn represents boards, senior management teams, hedge funds and private equity firms in connection with matters before enforcement and regulatory agencies including the SEC, the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Caitlyn holds a JD from Boston University School of Law (cum laude) and a BA from Cornell University.

Since the start of 2020, McDermott has added 24 lawyers to our litigation group and projects additional growth throughout 2021. The Firm most recently deepened our bench in New York with the addition of Carlos Ortiz.

About McDermott
McDermott Will & Emery partners with leaders around the world to fuel missions, knock down barriers and shape markets. Our team works seamlessly across practices and industries to deliver highly effective—and often unexpected—solutions that propel success. More than 1,200 lawyers strong, we bring our personal passion and legal prowess to bear in every matter for our clients and the people they serve.

 

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