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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
 
 
SCHEDULE 14A
(Rule
14a-101)
INFORMATION REQUIRED IN PROXY STATEMENT
SCHEDULE 14A INFORMATION
Proxy Statement Pursuant to Section 14(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934
 
 
Filed by the Registrant ☒       Filed by a party other than the Registrant ☐
Check the appropriate box:
 
Preliminary Proxy Statement
 
Confidential, for Use of the Commission Only (as permitted by Rule
14a-6(e)(2))
 
Definitive Proxy Statement
 
Definitive Additional Materials
 
Soliciting Material Pursuant to
§240.14a-12
UNITIL CORPORATION
(Name of Registrant as Specified in its Charter)
Not applicable.
(Name of Person(s) Filing Proxy Statement, if other than the Registrant)
Payment of Filing Fee (Check all boxes that apply):
 
No fee required.
 
Fee paid previously with preliminary materials.
  Fee computed on table in exhibit required by Item 25(b) per Exchange Act Rules
14a-6(i)(1)
and
0-11.
 
 


Unitil Corporation

2024 Proxy Statement

Notice of Annual Meeting of Shareholders

 

LOGO

 

LOGO

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

11:30 a.m. EDT

Hampton, New Hampshire

 

 

 

  LOGO  

 

 


LOGO

March 29, 2024

Dear Fellow Shareholder,

I am pleased to invite you to the Unitil Corporation Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at 11:30 a.m. EDT, at our corporate headquarters, 6 Liberty Lane West, Hampton, New Hampshire 03842-1720.

This year, we are asking shareholders to vote on the election of three directors, on the approval of the Company’s Third Amended and Restated 2003 Stock Plan, and on the ratification of the selection of independent registered public accountants. Also, this year, shareholders will be presented with an advisory vote on executive compensation.

Your vote is very important. We encourage you to vote to ensure that your voice is represented at the meeting, and to play a part in our future. The enclosed proxy materials provide important information to assist you with your voting decisions and instructions to submit your vote.

I would like to thank you for choosing to invest in Unitil Corporation. Throughout 2023, we honored our commitments to our shareholders, customers, employees, local communities and partners by investing in people, technology, and assets, delivering exceptional customer service, and producing strong financial results. Looking forward, our disciplined approach to operating excellence, financial integrity, and strategy execution will continue to support those commitments.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and management of Unitil Corporation, thank you for your continued support and confidence in 2024.

Sincerely,

 

LOGO

Thomas P. Meissner, Jr.

Chairman of the Board and

Chief Executive Officer

 

 

 

 

  LOGO  

 

 


LOGO

 

   Hampton, New Hampshire

March 29, 2024

NOTICE OF ANNUAL MEETING OF SHAREHOLDERS

The Unitil Corporation (the “Company”) 2024 Annual Meeting of Shareholders will be held at the office of the Company, 6 Liberty Lane West, Hampton, New Hampshire 03842-1720, on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at 11:30 a.m. EDT for the following purposes:

 

  1.

Election of three Directors of the Company in Class III, nominated by the Board of Directors, each to serve a term of three years;

 

  2.

Approval of the Company’s Third Amended and Restated 2003 Stock Plan;

 

  3.

Ratification of the selection of Deloitte & Touche LLP as the Company’s independent registered public accounting firm for 2024;

 

  4.

Approval, on an advisory basis, of the compensation of the Company’s Named Executive Officers;

 

  5.

Transaction of any other business as may properly be brought before the meeting.

The Board of Directors set February 23, 2024, as the date for determining holders of record of common stock who are entitled to notice of and to vote at the meeting or at any adjournments or postponements of the meeting. The Board of Directors has directed the Company to prepare this notice, the accompanying proxy statement, and the accompanying annual report, and to send them to you.

By Order of the Board of Directors,

 

LOGO

Sandra L. Whitney

Corporate Secretary

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING THE AVAILABILITY OF PROXY MATERIALS FOR THE ANNUAL MEETING OF SHAREHOLDERS TO BE HELD ON

WEDNESDAY, MAY 1, 2024

 

This notice, the accompanying proxy statement and the accompanying annual report to shareholders are available for shareholders to view at www.proxydocs.com/UTL.

 

 

 

 

 

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YOUR VOTE IS IMPORTANT

Your vote is important. To ensure a quorum is present at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders, please be sure your shares are represented at the meeting.

You may vote in one of the following ways:

 

 Shareholders of Record    Beneficial Holders

 By Mail

 

LOGO

  

Sign, date and return the enclosed proxy card (a self-addressed envelope is enclosed for your convenience)

 

    

By Mail

 

LOGO

   Direct your bank, broker or other nominee on how to vote your shares in accordance with the instructions provided
to you.

 

 Via the Internet

 (in advance of the meeting)

 

LOGO

   Submit your proxy at www.investorvote.com/UTL       

 

Via the Internet

(in advance of the meeting)

 

LOGO

 

 

 In Person at the

 Meeting

 

LOGO

 

   A meeting ballot will be provided for voting at the meeting.       

 

In Person at the

Meeting

 

LOGO

 

  

 

A LEGAL PROXY IS REQUIRED, which can be obtained from your bank broker or other nominee; a meeting ballot will be provided for voting at the meeting.

 

 

If for any reason you desire to revoke or change your proxy, you may do so at any time prior to the meeting by following the procedures described in the accompanying proxy statement or at the meeting.

 

      

 

If for any reason you desire to revoke or change your voting instructions, you must contact your bank, broker or other nominee and follow its procedures for revoking or changing your voting instructions.

 

 

ATTENDING THE ANNUAL MEETING OF SHAREHOLDERS

All shareholders may attend the Annual Meeting of Shareholders. However, to ensure that the meeting remains orderly and secure, you must follow certain procedures for admittance.

Attending in Person

Shareholders of record will need to provide their name and government-issued picture identification. Beneficial owners will need to provide a copy of an account statement from the bank, broker or nominee holding the shares as proof of ownership as of the Record Date, as well as government-issued picture identification. The safety of our employees and all invited guests and visitors is of primary importance. If you should elect to attend the Annual Meeting in person, you will be expected to follow all directions from Company personnel while inside our corporate office.

 

 

 

 

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

PROXY STATEMENT 

 

INFORMATION ABOUT THE ANNUAL MEETING      1  
ENERGY FOR LIFE      5  
DESCRIPTION OF MANAGEMENT      7  
SHARE OWNERSHIP      9  

Beneficial Ownership

     9  

Section 16(a) Beneficial Ownership Reporting Compliance

     11  
CORPORATE GOVERNANCE      12  

Director Independence

     13  

Risk Oversight

     14  

Cybersecurity Oversight

     15  

Leadership Structure

     16  

Board Succession Plan

     17  

Retirement Policy

     17  

Directors’ Stock Ownership & Retention Policy

     17  

Resignation Policy

     17  

Annual Evaluation

     18  

Code of Ethics

     19  

Management Succession Planning

     19  

Executive Compensation Recovery Policy

     20  

Executive Stock Ownership & Retention Policy

     21  

Prohibition on Hedging and Pledging Company Stock

     21  

Transactions with Related Persons

     21  

Shareholder Rights

     24  
QUALIFICATIONS & SKILLS OF DIRECTORS      25  

Board Diversity

     27  
SUSTAINABILITY      28  
COMMITTEES OF THE BOARD      32  
AUDIT MATTERS      35  

Audit Committee Report

     35  

Principal Accountant Fees & Services

     36  

Audit Committee Pre-Approval Policy

     36  
COMPENSATION      37  

Compensation Committee Operations

     37  

Compensation Committee Interlocks & Insider Participation

     38  

Risk and Broad-Based Compensation Programs

     38  

Compensation Discussion & Analysis

     39  

2023 Performance Metrics, Goals & Results

     59  

Compensation Committee Report

     65  

Compensation of Named Executive Officers

     66  

Potential Payments Upon Termination or Change of Control

     83  

Compensation of Directors

     91  
PROPOSAL 1:      95  

Election of Three Directors in Class III for a Term of Three Years

     97  
PROPOSAL 2:      102  

Approval of the Unitil Corporation Third Amended and Restated 2003 Stock Plan

     102  
PROPOSAL 3:      108  

Ratification of Selection of Deloitte & Touche LLP, as Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm for 2024

     108  
PROPOSAL 4:      109  

Approval, on an Advisory Basis, of the Compensation of the Company’s Named Executive Officers

     109  
OTHER MATTERS      110  

Shareholder Proposals

     110  

Solicitation of Proxies

     111  

Company Documents & Information

     111  
APPENDIX      112  

Unitil Corporation Third Amended and Restated 2003 Stock Plan

     112  
 

 

 

 

 

 

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LOGO

Unitil Corporation

6 Liberty Lane West

Hampton, NH 03842-1720

March 29, 2024

PROXY STATEMENT

Unitil Corporation (“Unitil” or the “Company”) is providing this proxy statement and the accompanying annual report (which includes the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for fiscal year 2023) to shareholders in connection with our 2024 Annual Meeting of Shareholders (the “Annual Meeting”). The Board of Directors (the “Board”) is soliciting your designation of a proxy to vote your shares at the Annual Meeting. As a shareholder of Unitil, you are invited to the Annual Meeting, as well as entitled and requested to vote (if you are a shareholder of record) or to provide voting instructions (if you beneficially own your shares in street name) on the proposals described in this proxy statement. This proxy statement provides information to assist you in voting your shares or in providing voting instructions with respect to your shares.

Unitil has the following subsidiaries, which are referred to throughout this proxy statement: Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Company (“Fitchburg”); Granite State Gas Transmission, Inc. (“Granite”); Northern Utilities, Inc. (“Northern”); Unitil Energy Systems, Inc. (“Unitil Energy”); Unitil Power Corp.; Unitil Realty Corp.; Unitil Resources, Inc.; and Unitil Service Corp.

We may also refer to Unitil as “we” or “our” or “us” throughout this proxy statement.

 

INFORMATION ABOUT THE ANNUAL MEETING

Date, Time and Place

The Annual Meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at 11:30 a.m. EDT, at our corporate office, 6 Liberty Lane West, Hampton, New Hampshire 03842-1720.

Anticipated Mailing Date

We anticipate first mailing definitive copies of this proxy statement, the accompanying proxy card, and the accompanying annual report to shareholders on or about March 29, 2024.

 

 

 

  LOGO  

 

 

1


MEETING SUMMARY

This year, we are seeking your vote on the following proposals:

 

  1)

Election of three Directors of the Company in Class III. The Board has nominated Suzanne Foster, Thomas P. Meissner, Jr., and Justine Vogel for election to the Board, each to serve a term of three years. The Board recommends a vote FOR these nominees. Information on Proposal No. 1 is included in the section entitled Proposal 1: Election of Directors.

 

  2)

Approval of the Unitil Corporation Third Amended and Restated 2003 Stock Plan (which amends and restates the Company’s Second Amended and Restated 2003 Stock Plan to increase the maximum number of shares of common stock (no par value) of the Company available for awards to plan participants by 700,000 shares, from 677,500 shares to 1,377,500 shares in the aggregate), including the material terms of the plan. The Board recommends a vote FOR this proposal. Information on Proposal No. 2 is included in the section entitled Proposal 2: Approval of the Unitil Corporation Third Amended and Restated 2003 Stock Plan.

 

  3)

Ratification of the selection of Unitil’s independent registered public accounting firm, Deloitte & Touche LLP, for fiscal year 2024. The Board recommends a vote FOR this proposal. Information on Proposal No. 3 is included in the section entitled Proposal 3: Ratification of Selection of Deloitte & Touche LLP as Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm for 2024.

 

  4)

Approval, on an advisory basis, of the compensation of the Company’s named executive officers. The Board recommends a vote FOR this proposal. Information on Proposal No. 4 is included in the section entitled Proposal 4: Approval, on an Advisory Basis, of the Compensation of the Company’s Named Executive Officers.

 

  5)

Transaction of any other business that may properly be brought before the Annual Meeting.

 

RECORD DATE & NUMBER OF SHARES OUTSTANDING    
You are entitled to receive notice of and to vote at the Annual Meeting if you owned shares of Unitil common stock as of the close of business on February 23, 2024 (the “Record Date”). As of the Record Date, there were 16,164,023 shares of common stock issued and outstanding and entitled to vote at the Annual Meeting.    

Record Date:

   February 23, 2024   

 

   Shares Outstanding:   

16,164,023

QUORUM & REQUIRED VOTE

A majority of the outstanding shares of common stock entitled to vote at the Annual Meeting must be present in person or represented by proxy to conduct the Annual Meeting. This is referred to as a quorum.

If a quorum is present, the nominees standing for election as a Director will be elected by a plurality of the votes cast by the shareholders. Votes withheld and broker non-votes will not be counted toward the achievement of a plurality. Additional information concerning the election of directors appears in the

 

 

 

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2


sections entitled Corporate Governance – Resignation Policy and Proposal 1 – Election of Directors. With respect to all other matters that may come before the Annual Meeting, action on a matter is approved if the votes cast favoring the action exceed the votes cast opposing the action. Therefore, abstentions and broker non-votes will have no effect on the other matters. Representatives of our transfer agent will count the votes and certify the results.

VOTING RIGHTS & PROCEDURES

As an owner of Unitil common stock, it is your legal right to vote (or to provide voting instructions) on all matters to be considered at a shareholder meeting. We hope you will exercise your legal right and fully participate as a shareholder in the Annual Meeting. You may cast one vote for each share of common stock that you own on all matters presented at the Annual Meeting.

The Board has selected and approved Robert B. Hevert, Daniel J. Hurstak, and Thomas P. Meissner, Jr. as proxies for the Annual Meeting to vote your shares in the manner that you specify on the proxy card or via the Internet, or if you do not give any specification on your proxy card or submitted proxy with respect to a matter, FOR such matter. Your designation of a proxy will not affect your right to attend the Annual Meeting and vote at the meeting.

Record Holders

If your shares of common stock were registered directly in your name with our transfer agent as of the Record Date, then you are considered a shareholder of record of the shares (a “Record Holder”) and we have sent the proxy materials and the accompanying proxy card directly to you.

Beneficial Holders

If your shares of common stock were registered in the name of a bank, broker or other nominee as of the Record Date, then you are considered a beneficial owner (“Beneficial Holder”) of the shares that are registered in street name, and your bank, broker or other nominee has sent this proxy statement and voting instructions to you. As a Beneficial Holder, your shares may be voted even if voting instructions are not provided.

Brokerage firms have the authority under New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) rules to vote shares for which their customers do not provide voting instructions on routine matters. The ratification of the selection of our independent registered public accounting firm, Deloitte & Touche LLP, for fiscal year 2024 is considered a routine matter. When a proposal is not routine and the brokerage firm has not received voting instructions from its customers, the brokerage firm cannot vote the shares on that proposal. Those shares are considered “broker non-votes.” Please note that, under NYSE rules, this means that brokers may not vote your shares on Proposals 1, 2 and 4 at the 2024 Annual Meeting if you have not given specific instructions as to how to vote to the broker. Please be sure to give specific voting instructions to your broker so that your vote can be counted.

 

 

 

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3


 

 

 

Record Holders

 

 You may vote your shares in one of the following ways:

 

  at the Annual Meeting

 

  by designating another person (the “proxy”) to vote on  your behalf by delivering a properly completed proxy
 card or submitting a proxy via the Internet at  
www.investorvote.com/UTL

 

You may revoke your designation of a proxy at any time before the vote is taken at the Annual Meeting in one of the following ways:

 

  file with Unitil’s Corporate Secretary a later-dated written  notice of revocation

 

  deliver to Unitil’s Corporate Secretary a properly  completed, later-dated proxy card relating to the same  shares

 

  submit a later-dated proxy via the Internet if the original  designation of a proxy was made via the Internet

 

  attend the Annual Meeting and vote your shares  (although attendance at the Annual Meeting will not in  and of itself constitute a revocation of a proxy)

 

   

 

 

Beneficial Holders

 

You may vote your shares in one of the following ways:

 

 at the Annual Meeting

 

you must obtain a properly completed legal proxy from your bank, broker or other nominee that will provide you with the right to vote your shares at the Annual Meeting

 

 direct your bank, broker or other nominee on how to vote your shares by following the instructions provided by the bank, broker or other nominee

 

You may change how your bank, broker, or other nominee will vote your shares before the vote is taken at the Annual Meeting:

 

 follow the procedures provided by your bank, broker or other nominee to make a change

 

 

 

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4


ENERGY FOR LIFE

A MESSAGE FROM TOM MEISSNER, CHAIRMAN & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER 

While 2023 was once again a challenging year with economic uncertainty, continuing post-pandemic economic distortion, and other disruptive world events, at year end, we achieved record earnings of $45.2 million or $2.82 per share, a 9% increase over the $2.59 per share earned in 2022. This marks the third consecutive year that we delivered earnings growth above the high end of our 5%—7% guidance in a challenging macro environment. We continued to accelerate dividend growth for our investors, and, we were one of the few utilities to provide positive shareholder return for the year. Operationally, we once again achieved outstanding results in electric reliability and gas emergency response, and maintained our exceptional track record in gas pipeline safety. Customer satisfaction continues to be exceptional and we were again the top ranked utility company in the northeast. These accomplishments reflect strong leadership, commitment to financial integrity and operational excellence, informed management of risk and strategic planning, and our steadfast drive to advance new technologies to achieve the greater goal of a clean energy future. I am very proud of our collective accomplishments in another challenging year.

Our accomplishments over the past year would not have been possible without our team of dedicated employees. Our employees are the lifeblood of our Company. They are motivated and engaged. Their dedication is inspiring and reflected in the exceptional service we deliver to our customers each and every day. This collective effort leads to the outstanding financial performance our shareholders have come to expect.

Our industry is at the forefront of an unprecedented transformation to reduce emissions and meet society’s climate goals—the transition to clean energy. We know the transition will be lengthy and complex, and that no single strategy or technology will achieve all our long-term strategic and sustainability objectives. But our future prospects for delivering long-term growth have never been better. The clean energy transition offers abundant opportunities to accelerate customer growth, invest in electric and gas infrastructure, and develop new sources of renewable energy that will position our Company for sustained long-term growth in the coming years.

As we move forward in 2024, I am optimistic about the year ahead. Over the last decade, we have grown and prospered like never before in our Company’s history, and I am confident that the initiatives and actions we are taking today will shape the successes of tomorrow. We are excited by and ready for the opportunities that lie ahead. As we look to the future, there are two basic principles that I feel are important to confirm: We will continue to invest in the people, technology and assets upon which we rely to deliver exceptional service; and we will maintain our focus on financial discipline and integrity. It is truly an exciting time to be a part of the energy industry, and I am so pleased you’ve chosen to share in our journey. If the last decade is any indicator, the future is indeed bright.

 

-

Thomas P. Meissner, Jr.

March 29, 2024

 

 

 

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5


VISION, MISSION & VALUES

 

LOGO

 

VISION

 

Our vision is to transform the way
people meet their evolving energy
needs to create a clean
and sustainable future.

  

LOGO

 

MISSION

 

Our mission is to safely and reliably
deliver energy for life and provide
our customers with affordable and
sustainable energy solutions.

 

LOGO

 

VALUES

 

Our values are grouped into four important components: Respect, Integrity, Stewardship and Excellence, otherwise known as “RISE”. Together, these value categories are key to our corporate responsibilities to our employees, our customers and communities, the environment, and society as a whole.

 

ACTING ON OUR VALUES

Our RISE values are the guiding principles behind our actions, but they are only as good as they are meaningful and measurable. Continued focus on the importance of these values will drive our commitment to deliver ‘energy for life’ and the achievement of a clean and sustainable energy future for all of our stakeholders.

 

 

 

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6


DESCRIPTION OF MANAGEMENT

The table below shows Executive Officers’ biographical information as of the date of this proxy statement, including the Named Executive Officers.

MANAGEMENT INFORMATION TABLE

 

 

Name and Principal Position 

 

  

 

  Age  

 

  

 

Description

 

 

Thomas P. Meissner, Jr.

Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer

   61   

Mr. Meissner has been Unitil’s chairman of the Board and chief executive officer since April 2018. Mr. Meissner also held the position of president of the Company from April 2018 until May 2023. Mr. Meissner served as Unitil’s senior vice president and chief operating officer from June 2005 until April 2018, and as senior vice president, operations, from February 2003 through June 2005. Mr. Meissner joined Unitil in 1994 and served as director of engineering from 1998 to 2003.

 

 

Robert B. Hevert

President & Chief Administrative Officer

   63   

Mr. Hevert has been Unitil’s president and chief administrative officer since May 2023. Mr. Hevert previously served as senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer from July 2020 until May 2023. Prior to joining Unitil, Mr. Hevert most recently served as Partner and Practice Area Leader of Rates, Regulation and Planning at ScottMadden, Inc. (“ScottMadden”) where he practiced since June 2016. Prior to ScottMadden, Mr. Hevert was founder and Managing Partner of Sussex Economic Advisors, LLC from 2012 until it was acquired by ScottMadden in June 2016, and also President of Concentric Energy Advisors, Inc. from 2002 until 2012. Mr. Hevert also served in several senior consulting and management positions prior to 2002. Mr. Hevert is a CFA® Charterholder.

 

 

Daniel J. Hurstak

Senior Vice President,

Chief Financial Officer &

Treasurer

   43   

Mr. Hurstak has been Unitil’s senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer since May 2023. Mr. Hurstak previously served as chief accounting officer and controller from March 2020 until May 2023. Prior to joining Unitil, Mr. Hurstak served as vice president, corporate accounting, at Fidelity Investments (“Fidelity”) from June 2016 until February 2020. Prior to Fidelity, Mr. Hurstak was a senior manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (“PwC”) from September 2009 until May 2016, and also began his career at PwC in September 2001. Mr. Hurstak is a Certified Public Accountant in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

 

 

Todd R. Diggins

Chief Accounting Officer & Controller

   49   

Mr. Diggins has been Unitil’s chief accounting officer and controller since May 2023. Mr. Diggins also served as director of finance from July 2018 until May 2023, and treasurer of Unitil’s subsidiary companies from April 2020 through May 2023. Mr. Diggins also held the positions of corporate accounting manager, senior accountant, and several other positions within the accounting group since joining Unitil in May of 1998. Mr. Diggins is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of New Hampshire.

 

 

 

 

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7


 

Name and Principal Position 

 

  

 

  Age  

 

  

 

Description

 

 

Justin Eisfeller

Vice President & Chief Technology Officer

   57   

Mr. Eisfeller has been Unitil’s chief technology officer since May 2021. Mr. Eisfeller joined Unitil in 2002 and served as director of engineering from 2003 through 2008, as director of energy measurement and control from 2009 through 2016, and as vice president of information technology since January 2017. Prior to joining Unitil, Mr. Eisfeller had 15 years’ experience as an engineer and manager. Mr. Eisfeller is a registered professional engineer in New Hampshire.

 

 

Christopher J. LeBlanc

Vice President,

Gas Operations

   57   

Mr. LeBlanc has been Unitil’s vice president of gas operations since January 2017. Mr. LeBlanc joined Unitil in 2000 and served as director of gas operations from 2008 until January 2017, and in several other gas operations management positions from 2000 until 2008.

 

 

Sandra L. Whitney

Corporate Secretary

   60   

Ms. Whitney has been Unitil’s corporate secretary and secretary of the Board since February 2003. Ms. Whitney joined Unitil in 1990 and has also served as the corporate secretary of Unitil’s subsidiary companies since 1994.

 

 

Todd R. Black

(Retired)

Senior Vice President,

External Affairs & Customer
Relations

   59   

Mr. Black served as Unitil’s senior vice president, external affairs and customer relations from September 2009 until his retirement on May 1, 2023. Mr. Black joined Unitil in 1998 and served as vice president of sales and marketing for Usource, Inc. (“Usource”), the Company’s former energy brokering subsidiary, from 1998 until 2003, and president of Usource from 2003 until September 2009.

 

 

 

 

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SHARE OWNERSHIP

The following table sets forth information on the beneficial ownership of our common stock as of the Record Date, by (i) each person known to us to be the beneficial owner of more than five percent of our common stock, (ii) each Director and nominee for Director, (iii) each executive officer named in the Summary Compensation Table in the section entitled Compensation - Compensation of Named Executive Officers (the “Named Executive Officers”) and (iv) all Directors and executive officers of Unitil as a group. Except as otherwise indicated, to our knowledge, the beneficial owners listed have sole voting and sole dispositive power with respect to the shares beneficially owned by them. The address of each of Unitil’s Directors and executive officers is c/o Unitil Corporation, 6 Liberty Lane West, Hampton, New Hampshire 03842-1720.

BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP

 

  Name of Beneficial Owner   

 Common 

Stock

  

Restricted

 Stock Units 

  

 Percent 

of Class

              

 

5% Owners:

 

                                

 

BlackRock, Inc. (1)

              

50 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001

 

      

 

2,932,304

 

 

      

 

 

 

      

 

18.20%

 

 

 

 

The Vanguard Group (2)

              

100 Vanguard Boulevard, Malvern, PA 19355

 

      

 

1,273,199

 

 

      

 

 

 

      

 

7.91%

 

 

 

              
              

 

Directors and Nominees: (3) (4)

 

                                

 

Anne L. Alonzo

 

    

 

 

 

1,276

 

    

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Neveen F. Awad

 

    

 

 

 

2,197

 

    

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Winfield S. Brown

 

    

 

 

 

3,706

 

    

 

 

 

3,511

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Mark H. Collin

 

    

 

 

 

54,820

 

    

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Suzanne Foster

 

    

 

 

 

8,117

 

    

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Edward F. Godfrey

 

    

 

 

 

11,707

 

    

 

 

 

11,720

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Michael B. Green

 

    

 

 

 

5,530

 

    

 

 

 

20,726

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Eben S. Moulton (5)

 

    

 

 

 

35,309

 

    

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Justine Vogel

 

    

 

 

 

8,117

 

    

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

David A. Whiteley

 

    

 

 

 

7,016

 

    

 

 

 

11,720

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

              

 

Named Executive Officers: (3)

 

                                

 

Thomas P. Meissner, Jr. (6)

 

    

 

 

 

117,800

 

    

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Robert B. Hevert (7)

 

    

 

 

 

19,724

 

    

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Daniel J. Hurstak (8)

 

    

 

 

 

9,983

 

    

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

 

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  Name of Beneficial Owner   

 Common 

Stock

  

Restricted

 Stock Units 

  

 Percent 

of Class

 

Justin Eisfeller (9)

 

    

 

 

 

15,459

 

    

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Christopher J. LeBlanc (10)

 

    

 

 

 

17,908

 

    

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Todd R. Black (11)

 

    

 

 

 

25,519

 

    

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

*

 

 

                                  

All Directors and Executive Officers as a Group (18 Persons) (3) (12)

 

       351,796        47,677        2.16%  

 

*

Represents less than 1% of the Company’s outstanding common stock.

 

 

NOTES:

 

  (1)

Information obtained from the Schedule 13G/A filed by BlackRock, Inc. on behalf of itself, BlackRock Advisors, LLC, Aperio Group, LLC, BlackRock (Netherlands) B.V., BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Limited, BlackRock Asset Management Canada Limited, BlackRock Asset Management Ireland Limited, BlackRock Asset Management Schweiz AG, BlackRock Financial Management, Inc., BlackRock Fund Advisors 1, BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, National Association, BlackRock Investment Management (Australia) Limited, BlackRock Investment Management, LLC, and BlackRock Fund Managers Ltd with the Securities and Exchange Commission on January 19, 2024. BlackRock, Inc. is the beneficial owner of 2,932,304 shares of common stock, of which it has sole voting power with respect to 2,898,482 shares and sole dispositive power with respect to 2,932,304 shares.

 

  (2)

Information obtained from the Schedule 13G/A filed by The Vanguard Group with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 13, 2024. The Vanguard Group is the beneficial owner of 1,273,199 shares of common stock, of which it has shared voting power with respect to 16,122 shares, shared dispositive power with respect to 31,281 shares, and sole dispositive power with respect to 1,241,918 shares.

 

  (3)

Based on information furnished to Unitil by its Directors, executive officers, by Mr. Moulton, a former member of the Board who retired from the Board on December 1, 2023, and by Mr. Black, an executive officer who retired from the Company on May 1, 2023.

 

  (4)

Restricted Stock Units (“RSUs”) are granted to the Directors who have elected to receive RSUs in lieu of common stock as the equity portion of the annual retainer for Board service for the particular year. RSUs will settle as 70% stock and 30% cash upon retirement or other separation from the Board. RSUs were granted annually from October 2012 through and including October 2023 and include cumulative dividend equivalents earned as of December 31, 2023. If a Director is subject to the specified employee payment provision in Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code, payment of the RSUs may be delayed for six months and the RSUs would not be paid within 60 days of the Record Date.

 

  (5)

Mr. Moulton retired from the Board on December 1, 2023. In 2023, Mr. Moulton served as a member of the Board and a member of the Compensation Committee from April 2000 until December 1, 2023, and as chair of the Committee from 2002 through 2017.

 

  (6)

Included are 2,575 shares that are held in trust for Mr. Meissner under the terms of Unitil’s Tax Deferred Savings and Investment Plan (the “401(k)”). Mr. Meissner has sole voting and dispositive power only with respect to the shares credited to his account. Also included are 35,116 shares of unvested restricted stock granted under the terms and conditions of the Company’s Second Amended and Restated 2003 Stock Plan (the “Second Amended Stock Plan”).

 

  (7)

Included are 11,241 shares of unvested restricted stock granted under the terms and conditions of the Second Amended Stock Plan.

 

 

1 

BlackRock Fund Advisors beneficially owns 5% or greater of the outstanding shares reported on the Schedule 13G/A noted above.

 

 

 

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  (8)

Included are 7,036 shares of unvested restricted stock granted under the terms and conditions of the Second Amended Stock Plan.

 

  (9)

Included are 1,185 shares that are held in trust for Mr. Eisfeller under the terms of the 401(k). Mr. Eisfeller has sole voting and dispositive power only with respect to the shares credited to his account. Also included are 4,856 shares of unvested restricted stock granted under the terms and conditions of the Second Amended Stock Plan.

 

  (10)

Included are 4,856 shares of unvested restricted stock granted under the terms and conditions of the Second Amended Stock Plan.

 

  (11)

Mr. Black retired from the Company as Senior Vice President, External Affairs and Customer Relations on May 1, 2023.

 

  (12)

Included are 3,796 shares that are held in trust for the executive officers under the terms of the 401(k) and 69,381 shares of unvested restricted stock granted under the terms and conditions of the Company’s Second Amended Stock Plan. No shares held by any Director or executive officer have been pledged.

SECTION 16(a) BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REPORTING COMPLIANCE

Section 16(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) requires our executive officers, Directors, and persons who beneficially own more than ten percent of a registered class of our equity securities to file certain reports of ownership and changes in share ownership with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the NYSE. Based upon our review of such forms that were filed in 2023, and written representations from certain reporting persons that such forms were not required to be filed by those persons for the reporting year 2023, we believe that all filing requirements applicable to our officers and Directors during 2023 and through March 2024, were met.

 

 

 

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CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

We are committed to comprehensive and effective corporate governance practices. The Board and the management team firmly believe that solid corporate governance is key to the transparent and ethical operation of our Company and have set a high standard for this important element in our long-term sustainability and growth goals.

The ethical character, integrity and principles of the Board, senior management, and our employees remain the most important safeguards of good corporate governance. These attributes are inherent to engaged leadership, effective management structure, and a committed, carefully-trained workforce.

The Corporate Governance Guidelines and Policies of the Board (the “Governance Guidelines”) inform the pursuit of superior Board function, management accountability, effective and transparent disclosure, and financial integrity. Together with the Bylaws and the Code of Ethics Policy, the Governance Guidelines provide us with a strong governance framework.

The Governance Guidelines represent the current view of the Board on governance and should not be viewed as rigid constraints. We will continue to monitor new developments and requirements, as well as emerging issues concerning corporate governance best practices and financial disclosure, and will adopt changes and new policies as appropriate. The Governance Guidelines are reviewed regularly and are subject to modification from time to time by the Board. The Governance Guidelines are available for review on the Corporate Governance page of the Investor Relations section of our website at unitil.com/investors, and are available in print to any shareholder or other interested party free of charge upon request to the Corporate Secretary at 1-800-999-6501 or at the address listed in the section entitled Information about the Annual Meeting.

 

ROLE OF THE BOARD

 

The Board is elected by our shareholders to oversee the long-term health and overall success of our business and to ensure our ongoing financial strength. The Board serves as the ultimate decision-making body on all matters, except for those reserved for or shared with our shareholders or committees of the Board.

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Board Member

Responsibilities & Expectations

 

Fiduciary Duty

Exercise fiduciary duties with proper oversight of
the development of Company policy and strategy,
and assessment of the Company’s operational
effectiveness and financial strength

 

Superior Business Judgment and Leadership

Apply superior business judgment and leadership,
and effectively exercise the duties of loyalty and
care for the benefit of all stakeholders

 

No Conflict of Interest

Avoid any conflict or perceived conflict of interest

 

Personal Integrity

Promote a high standard of personal integrity and
adhere to the letter and spirit of the Code of Ethics

 

Challenge Management

Hold management accountable for its commitment
to achieve the highest attainable goals

 

          

DIRECTOR INDEPENDENCE

 

Our Governance Guidelines stipulate that a majority of the
members of the Board, and all members of the Audit,
Compensation, and Nominating and Governance Committees,
must be independent (as defined in Section 303A.02 of the
NYSE Listed Company Manual—Corporate Governance
Standards). As a listed company on the NYSE, we adhere to
the independence standards set forth by the NYSE, and the
Board has formally adopted independence criteria
corresponding to the NYSE rules for director independence.
The NYSE Listed Company Manual includes additional
independence requirements for Audit Committee and
Compensation Committee members. In addition, Rule 10A-3
of the Exchange Act includes additional independence
requirements for Audit Committee members.

 

Our Governance Guidelines, as well as the NYSE
independence standards, require that the Board annually
affirm the independence status of non-employee or
“outside” Directors. The Board performs this review and
affirmation annually in January, and based on its last

comprehensive review on January 31, 2024, the Board determined at that time, with the exception of Mr. Meissner, all of the current Board members are independent.

 

During its annual independence review and affirmation, the Board applies the independence standards set forth in our Guidelines and by the NYSE. Under these requirements, the members of the Board who qualify as independent must be free from any material relationship that would interfere with the exercise of independent judgment as a member of the Board. An independent Director is one for whom the Board has affirmatively determined that he or she, individually or through a member of his or her immediate family, does not have or has not had management responsibility with the Company or otherwise been affiliated with Unitil for the past three years and who has no material relationship, either directly or as a partner, shareholder or officer of an organization with such a

   

 

Affirmed as Independent

January 31, 2024

 

 Anne L. Alonzo

 Neveen F. Awad

 Winfield S. Brown

 Mark H. Collin

 Suzanne Foster

 Edward F. Godfrey

 Michael B. Green

 Justine Vogel

 David A. Whiteley

relationship with Unitil. This definition generally leaves the Board the discretion to determine, on a case-by-case basis, what constitutes a “material relationship” with us. The Board exercises this discretion in a manner that is consistent with applicable NYSE and SEC regulations and standards. In addition, members of the Board are obligated to notify the full Board of any material changes in their relationships that may affect their independence status as determined by the Board. The obligation encompasses all relationships between Directors and Unitil and its subsidiaries and/or members of senior management.

 

 

 

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RISK OVERSIGHT

The Board is responsible for the oversight of management, the development of Company policy and strategy, and the ongoing assessment of the Company’s operational effectiveness and financial strength, which includes the oversight of risk. The Board’s ultimate goals are to ensure that Unitil continues as a successful and sustainable business, to optimize financial returns in light of the business risks, to increase shareholder value over time, and to protect the interests of all stakeholders.

Our Enterprise Risk Management (“ERM”) program has been in place since 2014. The Board has definitive oversight responsibility for the ERM program in accordance with its fiduciary duty. The ERM program is a foundation for risk management that is relevant, sustainable and scalable. The ERM program is designed to identify existing and potential risks, and to manage risks within our risk appetite in order to sustain operations and achieve business and strategic objectives. Our ERM program includes regular review of new or emerging risks, the assessment of such risks and their potential effects on our Company, the velocity of potential incidents resulting from such risks, and risk mitigation strategies. In building the ERM program, the potential risks relating to our business were defined using a comprehensive set of risk disclosures which are described in Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors of our 2023 Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC on February 13, 2024 (“2023 Form 10-K”).

In its oversight role, the Board is supported by the Risk and Compliance Committee (the “RCC”), a multi-function management committee that is responsible for the ongoing development and implementation of the ERM program and associated risk management standards. The ERM program is integrated with other assurance and strategy-related functions throughout our Company to ensure appropriate coverage of risks that could impact us. In addition to known risks, the ERM provides for the identification of emerging risks, through participation in industry groups, scenario planning and gap analysis, discussions with designated internal subject matter experts, and in consultation with outside advisers. Management then analyzes the emerging risks to determine materiality, likelihood, impact, velocity, and appropriate mitigation strategies. A quarterly ERM report, outlining both emerging and ongoing risks as well as management’s mitigation efforts, is provided to the Board at each Board meeting.

Our statements of risk appetite and risk tolerance were developed as a joint effort between management and the Board. The importance of the integration of clear statements of risk appetite and risk tolerance to strategy development and implementation were the primary factors considered during this exercise. The Board was guided through the process with management’s input and information from the RCC’s work with regard to known risks, emerging risks, and opportunities created by well-managed risk. At the conclusion of the exercise, the Board determined our risk appetite and risk tolerance as noted below.

 

 

 

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Risk Appetite

 

Our Strategic Plan rests on three pillars: Transformative Customer Solutions, Advanced Energy Systems, and Clean Energy Pathways. We recognize the inherent uncertainties surrounding the plan, and will pursue long-term initiatives to produce sustainable earnings growth at or above the higher end of our peer group range, with moderate appetite for near-term earnings and cash flow variability. We will make strategic decisions based on a balanced assessment of expected risks and rewards, with a view toward managing risk to the degree it is economically beneficial to do so. We have no appetite for risk related to safety, reliability, customer affordability, regulatory compliance, reputational harm, or our RISE values, and therefore will not accept risk arising from decisions that put financial results ahead of these principles.

 

Risk Tolerance

 

We understand that our key stakeholders (investors, customers, employees, and regulators) tend to be risk averse, preferring opportunities with more predictable outcomes to those with less predictable outcomes, even if the expected value is lower. Our willingness to assume risk reflects our stakeholders’ risk tolerance, but will not needlessly impede our ability to achieve our strategic objectives.

 

Like all companies, we face a variety of risks, both internal and external, and many factors work simultaneously to affect our overall business risk. The Board recognizes that our business risk is not static, and that it is not possible to mitigate all risk and uncertainty. The Board works within a climate of respect and candor, fostering a culture of open dialogue between Board members and senior management, which includes comprehensive knowledge of our many elements of risk. Overall, the Board believes that a systematic and proactive approach to properly oversee risk management has been defined and enhanced by the ERM program, which will continue to evolve through ongoing review and assessment of the existing and emerging risks facing the Company.

CYBERSECURITY OVERSIGHT

The Board is responsible for oversight of cybersecurity, which is and will continue to be a primary focus. The Board recognizes the protection of our data, customer information and infrastructure are critical to the ongoing success and prosperity of our Company, and the Board’s decision to elevate oversight of cybersecurity to the Board is appropriate and a matter of good governance.

We maintain a robust Cybersecurity Plan for assessing, identifying, and managing material risks from cybersecurity threats. The intent of the Cybersecurity Plan is to provide a proactive and systemic approach to meet the evolving requirements for cybersecurity and related compliance in the utility industry. The Cybersecurity Plan is part of our ERM program, described above, and the Board receives regular cybersecurity updates as part of the ERM report. The Cybersecurity Plan includes annual assessments, the results of which are used to benchmark our cybersecurity posture, to identify risks from cybersecurity threats, to prioritize any such risks that may have potential material effects on our Company, and to establish effective controls to manage, mitigate and remediate such risks.

 

 

 

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Cybersecurity awareness and training is a Company-wide initiative, established in 2013, in which all employees participate. The results of our internal, external, and regulatory assessments have routinely demonstrated a high-degree of integrity in our risk, security, and governance practices because of targeted focus, direct investment, and prioritization across our cybersecurity program to protect our assets, customer data, and critical utility services.

 

To date, there have been no risks from cybersecurity threats (including as a result of previous cybersecurity incidents) that have materially affected or are reasonably likely to materially affect our business strategy, results of operations, or financial condition.

    

 

Cybersecurity Plan

Annual Assessments

 

Annual Assessment Standards:

 

  Department of Energy Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model

 

  National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework

 

  Center for Internet Security Controls

 

LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE

The current leadership structure of the Board consists of a combined chairman and chief executive officer (“CEO”) position which has been held by Mr. Meissner since April 2018.

 

At this time, the Board believes that as a small-cap domestic corporation, the combination of these two positions is the optimal structure to guide the Company and maintain the focus required to achieve our long-term strategic goals. The CEO is the direct link between senior management and the Board. As a utility professional with over 30 years of industry experience, Mr. Meissner provides both critical insight and perception to the Board as well as valuable feedback to senior management through his comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand.

 

In July 2023, the Board re-appointed Mr. Green to serve as the lead independent director (the “Lead Director”) for the coming year. In his role as Lead Director, Mr. Green, who also serves as the chair of the Executive Committee, presides at all meetings of the Board in executive session. The Lead Director Charter outlines the responsibilities and expectations of the Lead Director.

 

The existence and activities of the Lead Director do not alter the traditional roles and responsibilities of the Board as a whole, or our management team.

    

 

Lead Director

Responsibilities & Expectations

 

Leadership:

Provide leadership and guidance to the Board on the fulfillment of its fiduciary duties, as well as the organization’s mission, vision, corporate governance and strategic direction.

 

Meeting Management:

Chair all meetings of the Board in executive session, as well as Board meetings at which the Chairman is not present. Encourage meeting participation, information sharing, and candid discussion with the goal of prudent decision-making and efficient and effective meetings.

 

Relationship Management:

Provide independent advice and counsel to the Chairman and CEO with particular emphasis on Board relations and matters of strategic importance; provide a communication conduit between the Board and the Chairman and CEO, as needed or requested.

 

Corporate Governance:

Facilitate, with the assistance of the Executive Committee and the Corporate Secretary, the annual board evaluation on key Board and committee-related matters.

 

Board Culture and Conduct:

Promote the continuation of a collegial and mutually respectful Board culture. Intervene, when necessary, in instances involving conflict of interest, confidentially, director performance, and other Board policies.

 

 

 

 

 

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BOARD SUCCESSION PLAN

The Board is engaged in ongoing succession planning, which is led by the Nominating and Governance Committee. The Board Succession Plan addresses upcoming retirements, committee membership and rotation, class balancing, skill set requirements and gaps, and planning for unforeseen events. The Board Succession Plan is also directly linked to both new director recruitment actions and diversity goals.

RETIREMENT POLICY

In general, no Director may be nominated as a candidate for re-election as part of the slate of Directors that we propose, nor may any person be nominated as a candidate for election, after he or she has reached age 75. Directors are not subject to specific term limits. Due to the complexity of the utility industry, we value the insight that a Director is able to develop over a period of time. The Board believes that tenure provides an enhanced contribution to the Board, including the benefits of valuable experience and familiarity. However, the Board seeks to balance tenure on the Board in the context of overall diversity, as well as to protect against an entrenched Board.

DIRECTORS’ STOCK OWNERSHIP AND RETENTION POLICY

The Board believes that its members should make the financial commitment to own a significant number of shares of our common stock to properly align their interests with those of our shareholders. All non-employee Directors must own shares of common stock in the equivalent value of three times the current annual cash retainer for Board service. Shares of restricted stock and restricted stock units (“RSUs”) are counted towards this total. The ownership requirement is calculated annually on January 1, and as of January 1, 2024, the current ownership requirement is $195,000 in value. Mr. Brown, Mr. Collin, Ms. Foster, Mr. Godfrey, Mr. Green, Ms. Vogel and Mr. Whiteley meet the stock ownership requirement. Any new Director who joins the Board has four years from the date of first election to the Board by shareholders to accumulate the required number of shares of common stock, which currently applies to Ms. Alonzo and Ms. Awad. Additionally, all members of the Board are required to hold all forms of equity received from the Company until retirement or other separation from the Company. For Board members, this includes all forms of equity received as part of the annual retainer for Board service. The Board, in its sole discretion, may approve a waiver to this policy as circumstances may warrant. To date, no such waivers have been proposed or approved.

RESIGNATION POLICY

A Director is required to tender his or her resignation if he or she receives a “withhold” vote greater than 50% of the shares voted at the annual meeting of shareholders in an uncontested election. If an incumbent Director fails to receive the required vote for re-election, the Nominating and Governance Committee will act on an expedited basis to determine whether to recommend the acceptance of the Director’s resignation

 

 

 

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and will submit such recommendation for prompt consideration by the Board. The Director whose resignation is under consideration shall abstain from participating in any decision regarding that resignation. The Nominating and Governance Committee and the Board may consider any factors they deem relevant in deciding whether to accept a Director’s resignation.

The Board nominates for election or re-election to the Board only candidates who agree to tender, promptly following the annual meeting at which they face election or re-election as Director, irrevocable resignations that will be effective upon (i) the failure to receive the required vote at the annual meeting at which they face re-election and (ii) Board acceptance of such resignation. In addition, the Board fills board seat vacancies and new directorships only with candidates who agree to tender, promptly following their appointment to the Board, the same form of resignation tendered by other Directors in accordance with this policy. All candidates proposed for election or re-election at the Annual Meeting have agreed in writing to abide by this policy.

 

MEETING ATTENDANCE

 

Directors are expected to make a determined effort to attend all meetings of the Board and applicable committees upon which they serve. In 2023, the Board held four meetings, and its committees held a total of 14 meetings, collectively. No Director attended less than 75% of the aggregate number of meetings of the Board and applicable committees. In fact, the Board achieved perfect attendance with 100% of the aggregate number of meetings held in 2023 attended by all members.

   

 

  2023 Meeting  

Attendance 

 

100% 

 

Directors are encouraged to attend the Annual Meeting, although there is no formal requirement to attend. In 2023, ten Directors attended the Annual Meeting.

EXECUTIVE SESSIONS

Non-employee members of the Board have the opportunity to meet in executive session, without members of management present, either prior to the start or following the adjournment of each Board and committee meeting. During 2023, the Board met in executive session on four occasions. Mr. Green, the Lead Director, presided at all four meetings.

ANNUAL EVALUATION

We seek guidance and insight from all Board members on key Board, Company, and industry-related issues annually. This exercise has proven to be a beneficial communication tool, a measurement of Board philosophy, and a commitment to excellence in corporate governance. In 2023, all Board members participated in the evaluation process, which consisted of two parts – the evaluation questionnaire and the self-assessment.

 

 

 

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Evaluation Questionnaire

The evaluation questionnaire (the “Questionnaire”) provides a platform for expression of thoughts and opinions regarding various issues facing the Company, the Board as a whole, as well as any committee(s) upon which individual Board members may serve. Its intended use is as a communication tool to enhance the Board’s overall effectiveness in a changing business environment. Board effectiveness contributes to the sustainability of our Company over the long term, and therefore is of vital importance to shareholders and all stakeholders. The Questionnaire is presented as a series of questions requiring qualitative responses to reflect individual opinions and viewpoints.

Self-Assessment

The individual Board member self-assessment is a voluntary confidential personal improvement tool intended to encourage honest reflection on personal characteristics, behavior, and aspirations with regard service on the Board.

CODE OF ETHICS

Our Code of Ethics (the “Code of Ethics”) is a robust statement of our high standards for ethical behavior, legal compliance and financial disclosure, and is applicable to all of our Directors, officers and employees. The Board unanimously approved the Code of Ethics in 2004, and along with all officers and employees, annually affirms understanding of, and agreement and compliance with, the Code of Ethics. The Nominating and Governance Committee reviews the Code of Ethics annually for any required or desirable revisions. Should the Board adopt any changes to, or waivers of, the Code of Ethics, those changes or waivers will be promptly disclosed and posted on our website at the address noted below. To date, there have been no changes to or waivers requested or granted with regard to the Code of Ethics. The Nominating and Governance Committee last reviewed the Code of Ethics on January 30, 2024. A copy of the Code of Ethics can be found on our website at unitil.com/investors.

MANAGEMENT SUCCESSION PLANNING

Effective executive leadership is critical to our success. The Board oversees the senior management succession planning process to ensure that effective plans are in place for succession of the CEO, as well as other key senior management positions. The succession plan addresses contingencies for retirement, resignation, death, disability, or other untimely departure of the CEO and/or other members of senior management for a smooth transition on both an interim and long-term basis. In 2019, the management succession plan was evaluated for gaps and other risk factors. As a result of that evaluation, in 2020, the management succession plan was expanded and developed further to include middle management and other key positions, including long-serving employees nearing retirement. To date, seven key internal candidates have been identified as potential future leaders of our Company. Senior management continues to mentor this group on executive development, strategy development, corporate decision-making, and outlook for long-term growth. The management succession plan is an ongoing and fluid process that is reviewed and updated regularly to

 

 

 

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address both immediate needs and long-term goals. We also have a comprehensive Crisis Succession Plan for key officers to establish clear succession protocol in the event of an emergency or other unplanned event. The Crisis Succession Plan is a stand-alone plan and does not replace or reduce our ongoing management succession planning efforts.

EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION RECOVERY POLICY

In October 2022, the SEC adopted final new rules related to the recovery of erroneously awarded performance-based compensation. Following that adoption, the NYSE proposed final rules which were adopted in June 2023 in accordance with the exchange’s mandate pursuant to the SEC’s final rules. The Board of Directors approved our revised Executive Compensation Recovery Policy (the “Policy”), described below, on November 1, 2023.

The purpose of the Policy is to provide for the recovery of certain executive compensation in the event of an accounting restatement resulting from material non-compliance with financial reporting requirements under the securities laws. In the event we are required to prepare an accounting restatement of our financial statements due to material non-compliance with any financial reporting requirement, we generally will be entitled to recover any excess performance-based compensation received by any current or former Covered Executive2 during the three-year period immediately preceding the date on which we are required to prepare an accounting restatement. “Performance-based compensation3” is defined as all annual incentives and long-term incentives (whether in cash, in equity, or otherwise) granted, earned, vested or unvested with performance features based wholly or in part on our Company’s or a specified group’s attainment of a financial reporting measure. “Financial reporting measures” is defined as measures that are determined and presented in accordance with the accounting principles used in preparing our financial statements, and any measure(s) that are derived wholly or in part from such measures. We shall recover any erroneously awarded performance-based compensation in accordance with the Policy, with the exception that if the conditions of Rule 10D-1 of the Exchange Act and the listing standards of the NYSE are met, the Compensation Committee determines that recovery would be impractical.

All actions taken under this policy will comply with Section 10D of the Exchange Act and the listing standards of the NYSE.

 

 

 

2 

The term “Covered Executive” includes the Company’s:
Chief executive officer; president; chief financial officer; chief accounting officer or controller; any vice president in charge of a principal business unit, division or function; any other officer who performs a policy-making function

3 

For the purposes of the Executive Compensation Recovery Policy, performance-based compensation is defined as all annual incentives and long-term incentives, whether in cash, in equity, or otherwise, with performance features based on our collective or a group’s performance.

 

 

 

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EXECUTIVE STOCK OWNERSHIP POLICY

 

All Named Executive Officers are required to own shares of our common stock in the equivalent value of a multiple of base salary. All shares of our common stock that are owned directly or beneficially, shares of restricted stock that are awarded, whether vested or unvested, as well any shares of Unitil common stock held in the Tax Deferred Savings and Investment Plan are counted towards the required total. Any newly appointed Named Executive Officer will have four years from the date of appointment to obtain the required shares of stock. As of the date of this proxy

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 Chairman and CEO

    4X     

statement, all current Named Executive Officers have met the stock ownership requirement, with the exception of Mr. Hurstak. Mr. Hurstak was

appointed Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of the Company in May 2023, and he will have until May 2027 to meet the ownership requirement.

 Chief Financial Officer

    3X   

 All Other Named Executive Officers 

    2X   
 
 
 

EXECUTIVE STOCK RETENTION POLICY

The Board believes that our executive officers should own a significant number of shares of our common stock to properly align their interests with those of the shareholders. All Named Executive Officers are required to hold all forms of equity received as compensation until retirement or other separation from the Company. The Board, in its sole discretion, may approve a waiver to this policy as circumstances may warrant. To date, no such waivers have been proposed or approved.

PROHIBITION ON HEDGING AND/OR PLEDGING COMPANY STOCK POLICY

All members of our Board and our executive officers are prohibited from engaging in short sales or engaging in any hedging transaction with respect to our common stock, as well as engaging in any transactions that result in pledging, or using as collateral, shares of our common stock in order to secure personal loans or other obligations, including any shares that may be held in a margin account.

TRANSACTIONS WITH RELATED PERSONS

The Audit Committee is responsible for reviewing and approving, as appropriate, all Related Person Transactions (as defined below), in accordance with its charter (the “Audit Committee Charter”) and as prescribed in the NYSE Listed Company Manual, Section 314, Related Person Transactions. As a result, the

 

 

 

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Committee has adopted procedures for such review and approval and included such procedures in our Governance Guidelines. We had no Related Person Transactions requiring disclosure in 2023, and there are no Related Person Transactions requiring disclosure currently proposed for 2024. “Related Person” and “Related Person Transaction” are defined in Item 404(a) of Regulation S-K (“Regulation S-K”), as prescribed under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”).

Transactions between us or one or more of our subsidiaries and one or more Related Person may present risks or conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest. Our Code of Ethics generally requires all employees, officers and Directors to avoid engagement in activities or relationships that conflict, or would be perceived to conflict, with our interests or adversely affect our reputation. It is understood, however, that certain relationships or transactions may arise that would be deemed acceptable and appropriate upon full disclosure of the transaction, following review and approval to ensure there is a legitimate business reason for the transaction and that the terms of the transaction are no less favorable to us than could be obtained from an unrelated person.

 

 

Related Person Transactions

Review & Approval Procedure

Requirements

 

  all Related Person Transactions and all material terms of the transactions shall be communicated to the Audit Committee for evaluation, including, but not limited to the approximate dollar value of the amount involved in the transaction, and all material facts as to the Related Person’s direct or indirect interest in, or relationship to, the Related Person Transaction

 

  each Related Person Transaction, and any material amendment or modification to any Related Person Transaction, must be reviewed and approved by the Audit Committee

     

 

Related Person Transactions

Basis for Audit Committee

Evaluation of Transactions

 

  information provided by members of the Board during the required annual affirmation of independence, at which the members of the Audit Committee will be present

 

  applicable responses on Directors’ and Officers’ Questionnaires submitted by Directors and officers and provided to the Audit Committee by the Corporate Secretary or Internal Auditor

 

  background information on nominees for Director provided by the Nominating and Governance Committee

 

  any other applicable information provided by any Director or officer of the Company

 

In connection with the review and approval, if appropriate, of any Related Person Transaction, the Audit Committee will consider whether the transaction will compromise our professional standards included in our Code of Ethics. In the case of any Related Person Transaction involving an outside Director or nominee for Director, the Committee will also consider whether the transaction will compromise the Director’s status as an independent Director as prescribed in the NYSE Listed Company Manual, Section 303A, Independent Directors. The procedures followed by the Committee to evaluate transactions with Related Persons are also available on the Corporate Governance page of the Investor Relations section of our website at unitil.com/investors.

COMMUNICATION WITH THE BOARD

Shareholders and other interested parties who desire to communicate with the Board, a committee of the Board, the non-management or independent Directors as a group, or an individual member of the Board

 

 

 

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may do so in writing by sending a letter c/o Corporate Secretary, Unitil Corporation, 6 Liberty Lane West, Hampton, New Hampshire 03842-1720 or via email to whitney@unitil.com. The Corporate Secretary will screen all correspondence for security purposes, and will also determine whether the communication relates to business matters that are relevant to us. If the correspondence meets these standards, it will be promptly forwarded to the appropriate Director(s).

NOMINATIONS

The Nominating and Governance Committee is responsible for recommending to the Board the slate of Director nominees for election by our shareholders. The Board reviews and, as appropriate, approves all Director nominees to be presented to our shareholders for election. As provided in Article III of our Bylaws, any vacancy occurring in the Board, whether due to the death, resignation or other inability to serve of any Director previously elected may be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining Directors.

General Nomination Process

The Nominating and Governance Committee determines the required selection criteria and qualifications of Director nominees based upon the needs of the Company at the time nominees are considered. See also the section entitled Qualifications and Skills of Directors below. Director candidates will be selected based on input from Directors, executive officers, and if the Committee deems appropriate, a third-party search firm. Minimum criteria for Director nominees are set forth below, as well as in the Corporate Governance Guidelines. A candidate must possess the ability to apply good business judgment and must be in a position to properly exercise his or her duties of loyalty and care. Candidates with potential conflicts of interest will be identified and disqualified, as appropriate. The Committee shall ensure there is a robust and diverse initial pool of director candidates. In addition, the Committee will consider criteria including independence, proven leadership capabilities, business experience, areas of expertise, and factors relating to the composition of the Board, including diversity (gender, race/ethnicity, and age), size and structure. The Committee will consider these criteria for nominees identified by the Committee, by other Directors, by shareholders, or through another source. When current Board members are considered for nomination for re-election, the Committee also considers prior Board contributions, performance, meeting preparedness and attendance records.

The Committee makes a preliminary assessment of each proposed nominee based upon his or her resume and biographical information, an indication of his or her willingness to serve and other background information. This information is evaluated against the criteria set forth above as well as our specific needs at the time. Based upon a preliminary assessment of the candidate(s), those who appear best suited to meet our needs may be invited to participate in a series of interviews, which are used for further evaluation. On the basis of information collected during this process, the Committee determines which nominee(s) to recommend to the Board for approval to submit for election at the next annual meeting of shareholders, or to fill vacancies on the Board that occur between shareholder meetings. The Committee uses the same process for evaluating all nominees, regardless of the source of the nomination. The Board may elect, at its discretion, to participate in an additional round(s) of interviews with one or all candidate(s) recommended by the Committee.

 

 

 

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The Committee’s diligent actions and thorough recruitment process resulted in the addition of six outstanding and highly qualified Board members from 2019 through 2023, all of whom have varied and extensive experience in numerous important areas that have proven to enhance the Board’s strong skill set and diversity goals.

Shareholder Nominations

Shareholders who wish to recommend a nominee for consideration by the Committee may do so by sending the following information to the Committee c/o the Corporate Secretary at the address listed in the section entitled Corporate Governance – Governance Policies of the Board—Communication with the Board: (1) the name of the candidate with brief biographical information and his or her resume; (2) contact information for the candidate and a document evidencing the candidate’s willingness to serve as a Director if elected; and (3) a signed statement as to the submitting shareholder’s current status as a shareholder and proof of ownership of the number of shares currently held.

Additionally, nominations of persons for election to the Board made by any of our shareholders must comply with all procedures set forth in Article IV – Nomination of Directors of our Bylaws.

No candidates for Director nominees were submitted to the Committee by any shareholder in connection with the Annual Meeting.

 

 

SHAREHOLDER RIGHTS

 

Our shareholders are entitled to certain rights granted in our Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation, as well as those prescribed by the New Hampshire Business Corporation Act.

    

 

Shareholder Rights

 

  We do not have classes of stock with unequal voting rights.

 

  All shareholders are entitled to vote for all current director nominees.

 

  We do not have a poison pill in effect.

 

  No shareholder has a preemptive right.

 

  The Board is authorized to issue only shares of common stock, no  par value; no preferred stock is authorized.

 

  Our Articles of Incorporation and our Bylaws may be amended by  shareholders with a simple majority vote.

 

  Shareholder approval is required to materially modify our capital  structure.

 

 

 

 

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QUALIFICATIONS & SKILLS OF DIRECTORS

The Board believes there are general qualifications that all Directors must exhibit, and other qualifications, attributes, skills and experience that should be represented on the Board as a whole, but not necessarily by each Director.

Qualifications Required of All Directors

The Board requires that each Director be a person of high integrity and superior ethical character with a proven record of leadership and accomplishment in his or her chosen field. Each Director must demonstrate innovative and independent thinking, understand complex principles of business, finance, and utility regulation, and demonstrate familiarity with and respect for corporate governance requirements and practices. Directors must also comply unequivocally with the Code of Ethics, and be free of conflicts or potential conflicts of interest, and a sufficient number of Directors must meet the requirements of independence as set forth by the NYSE, as appropriate. Directors must be willing and able to dedicate the proper amount of time and effort to service on the Board as necessary to fulfill his or her responsibilities as a Director. Independent members of the Board may not serve on more than four boards of for-profit companies in addition to the Unitil Board. Non-independent members of the Board may not serve on more than two boards of for-profit companies in addition to the Unitil Board. Service on boards of non-profit organizations, other industry associations, and community or civic groups is not limited.

 

 

 

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Qualifications, Attributes, Skills and Experience to be Represented on the Board

The Board has identified certain qualifications, skills, experience and background that it believes are important to be represented on the Board. The Nominating and Governance Committee is charged with the responsibility of tracking the Directors’ professional experience and skill sets with a board inventory matrix (the “Skills Matrix”). The Skills Matrix is composed of 13 categories of skills and attributes considered by the Board and the Committee to be advantageous to the regulated utility business, as well as for a company of our size and complexity. The Committee uses this information to assess overall Board composition and to identify existing and potential gaps. This information is also used for recruiting and evaluation purposes when there is a vacancy, or an expected vacancy, on the Board. The Skills Matrix has proven to be a valuable tool in this assessment exercise. The Board strives to represent a meaningful cross-section of business and industry experience, education, and specialized skill sets with a group of diverse individuals who add an element of quality to our corporate governance framework, and who fairly and without compromise execute their fiduciary duty to serve the best interests of our shareholders and all of our stakeholders.

 

The Skill Sets Summary outlines certain essential key qualifications and experience that the Board believes should be represented on the Board for optimal oversight of our business and the effective exercise of its
LOGO    fiduciary duty to shareholders. Directors standing for re-election are also evaluated by the Committee for recommendation to the Board using a set procedure based on the expectations of Board members, which is provided to all members of the Board and reviewed annually. The evaluation includes contribution to the Board and committees served upon; unique skills, expertise and attributes; attendance and preparedness; and willingness to continue serving. Overall continuity and chemistry of the Board are also considerations, as well as factors relating to the composition of the Board, such as size and

structure, the diversity profile, and the backgrounds, perspectives, experience and skills among its members. The evaluation also includes a one-on-one meeting with Mr. Meissner to address any concerns, desire to continue serving, or any other matters. Tenure on the Board is considered to be a uniquely valuable qualification in the highly regulated utility industry, although the Board recognizes that a range of tenure is beneficial to avoid complacency and/or Board entrenchment.

In January 2024, the Nominating and Governance Committee reviewed the Skills Matrix to ensure it continues to reflect the most relevant and essential skill sets and identify any gaps in advance of the recruitment of new Board members. The Committee elected to make no changes to the Skills Matrix at this time.

 

 

 

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BOARD DIVERSITY

The Board’s policy is to ensure the composition of the Board reflects gender, racial and ethnic diversity. To advance the Board’s policy, the Nominating and Governance Committee ensures that the initial list of candidates from which Board nominees are chosen includes one or more qualified candidates with diversity of gender and race and/or ethnicity. Also, any external search firm retained must also include in its initial list of candidates one or more qualified candidates with diversity of gender and race and/or ethnicity.

 

All aspects of diversity are considered in the goal to maintain a well-functioning board, for the creation of shareholder value, and ultimately, for the sustainability of our Company over the long term. The Board seeks to maintain an optimal diversity mix through an appropriate balance of diversity, including gender, age, race, ethnicity, competencies, background, perspectives, and life and professional experience, amongst other things, as a whole in the evaluation of all candidates for Board membership. The Board also considers how the experience and skill set of any new Director nominee complements those of existing Directors and fellow Director nominees to create a balanced and effective Board with diverse viewpoints and deep expertise. The Board feels strongly that a variety of points of view and both professional and life experiences contribute to a more effective decision-making process. Following the Annual Meeting, the Board’s diversity profile is expected to be as illustrated below.

 

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Skills and Diversity Declaration

The skills and diversity declaration was added to the Board’s general evaluation process to provide a means for each Board member to declare their strongest skill sets and to self-identify diversity, including gender and race/ethnicity. The end use of this information is to inform ongoing accuracy of the Skills Matrix for Board succession planning needs, and to aid in our disclosure of these items as an increasing number of investors are seeking Board diversity information in our public documents. The skills and diversity declaration was included in the 2022 annual evaluation process, and other than the addition of Ms. Alonzo in April 2023, Board membership has not changed. Therefore, we used the year-end 2022 data to prepare the 2024 Skills Sets Summary. Ms. Alonzo completed the Skills and Diversity Declaration upon joining the Board in April 2023 and her responses are included in the summary. It is anticipated that the Skills and Diversity Declaration will again be included as part of the 2024 annual evaluation.

SECTION 16(a) BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REPORTING COMPLIANCE

The subsection entitled Section 16(a) Beneficial Ownership Reporting Compliance within the Share Ownership section of this proxy statement is incorporated herein by reference.

 

 

 

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SUSTAINABILITY

 

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Our Commitment

 

Sustainability is a defining characteristic of our future success.

 

We have embraced the rapidly changing landscape of the utility industry as we prepare to meet the ever-changing energy needs of tomorrow and beyond. We are committed to sustainable practices and our corporate responsibilities as we work to expand clean energy choices for our

customers and ensure a reliable and affordable energy supply. Carbon reduction; clean energy; environmental stewardship; the development and safety of our employee workforce; the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organization; and transformative energy solutions and tools for our customers are and will remain top-of-mind. Sustainability is fully embedded in our key initiatives and strategies, our leadership development and workforce planning, our RISE values (Respect, Integrity, Stewardship and Excellence) and the tone at the top.

 

Commitment to our Environment

 

We are committed to reduce Company-wide direct greenhouse gas emissions from 2019 levels by at least 50 percent by 2030, and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. These goals are part of our overall commitment to environmental stewardship, sustainability and corporate responsibility, and are consistent with goals established under the Paris Climate Agreement.

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Commitment to our Culture and our Employees

 

Our long-term success is dependent on both what we do and how we do it. Our employees are our greatest asset and human capital management is paramount to our long-term success. Our employees reflect a

LOGO    long-standing culture of dedication to inspired teamwork, constant collaboration, loyalty, and the insistence on the highest possible standards for ethical business practices. Our RISE values set the tone for our actions with all stakeholders, both internal and external. These values are shared by all employees in our organization, and are a source of pride and inspiration. We believe that, collectively, employees with individual differences, life experiences, and self-expression will lead not only to a better culture, but also to our long-term success and to greater achievements along the way. We are committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace in which all employees feel valued and

respected, and embrace the genuine benefits that focused and effective human capital management brings to our organization.

 

 

 

 

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Our Approach

 

Tying Sustainability to Strategic Planning

 

Effective and informed strategic planning is essential to achieving our long-term operational and financial goals within a changing environmental and social landscape. Sustainability is embedded as a core element in our decision-making process to assist in guiding our strategic direction. Continuous focus on our strategic objectives and management of the critical success factors outlined in our strategic plan will ensure sustainable and beneficial growth for our shareholders, customers, employees, and all other stakeholders.

 

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Aligning Sustainability and Risk Management

As climate-related risks evolve, so does the need to align sustainability and the assessment of risk. Our goal is to continuously enhance our understanding of enterprise-wide risk and uncertainty with comprehensive evaluation of current risks, scenario planning, and quantitative analysis. These tools strengthen our ability to successfully integrate sustainability into our strategic decision-making processes. By doing so, we are better able to assess operational, environmental, and social uncertainties and weigh their potential implications for our strategic priorities.

Our Practices and Priorities

Our values state clearly that sustainability initiatives are fundamental to and firmly rooted in our culture. This top-to-bottom emphasis on the very nature of sustainability helps ensure long-term benefits and value creation, and reflects our commitment to our corporate responsibilities to our shareholders, employees, customers, and society at large.

There are four key areas we believe are central to our Company and to the utility industry as the transition to a sustainable future continues. By looking closely at each area, we have identified practices and priorities that demonstrate our commitment to sustainability in support of our stakeholders while simultaneously illustrating our corporate culture in action.

 

 

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ENERGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

 

Proactive energy resource planning with a strong emphasis toward lowering greenhouse gas emissions is a central philosophy and a critical element in a sustainable future.

 

PRIORITIES IN THIS AREA

 

  reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

  facilitation of distributed energy resources and storage alternatives

  support of utility-scale renewables and lower emissions

  end use efficiency and demand response

  overall environmental stewardship

 

 

 

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PEOPLE

 

The people who make up our workforce are what makes us special. Recruiting, valuing, and retaining quality, highly motivated employees assures that our culture continues to thrive and our Mission is successful.

 

PRIORITIES IN THIS AREA

 

  workplace safety and sustainability

  employee development and engagement

  diversity, equity and inclusion

 

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SAFETY AND RELIABILITY

 

Safety and reliability are paramount to the effective delivery of electricity and natural gas to our customers. Electric reliability and gas emergency response time are also each tied directly to a metric we measure for our short-term Incentive Plan.

 

PRIORITIES IN THIS AREA

 

  system reliability and resiliency

  integrity of gas delivery infrastructure

  emergency preparedness

  data privacy and cyber security

 

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CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT AND COMMUNITIES

 

We have a responsibility to put the customer first and to be a vital part of the communities in which we operate. Superior customer service is also tied directly to one of the metrics we measure for our short-term Incentive Plan.

 

PRIORITIES IN THIS AREA

 

  superior customer service

  community relations and charitable giving

  energy affordability for our customers

  economic development in the communities we serve

Our Objective

As we transform our business to meet the needs of future generations, we are fully committed to the environmental, social and governance priorities that matter most to our shareholders and other stakeholders.

While change creates uncertainty for some, those who arrive prepared at these critical moments find great opportunity for growth and long-term benefits for all. With thoughtful planning, informed decision-making, and an inspired, dedicated workforce, we are well-positioned to capitalize on multiple growth opportunities as our industry continues to evolve and embrace the clean energy transition.

 

 

 

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Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility Report

 

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To learn more about the actions, projects and initiatives that enhance the sustainability of our Company, our communities, and our planet, our 2023 Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility Report can be viewed in its entirety on our website at 2023 Sustainability Report (unitil.com).

 

We anticipate issuing our 2024 Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility Report in October 2024, which will provide information about our accomplishments in 2023 and our progress in 2024 in support of our sustainability initiatives and priorities.

 

 

 

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COMMITTEES OF THE BOARD

The Board has the following standing committees: Audit Committee; Compensation Committee; Executive Committee; and Nominating and Governance Committee. The tables below provide a summary of each committee with respect to membership and primary responsibilities. 

Audit Committee

 

 

 

 Committee Members

 

   Anne L.
Alonzo
  

Mark H.

Collin

  

Edward F.

Godfrey

  

Michael B.

Green

  

Justine

 Vogel  LOGO

 

Independent:

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

 

Financial Expert:

     

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

 

Meetings in 2023:

  

 

2

  

 

1

  

 

4

  

 

4

  

 

4

 

Latest Charter Review:

  

 

October 31, 2023

 

Primary Charter Directives:

  

 

  To provide independent and objective oversight of the Company’s accounting functions, internal controls and financial reporting

 

 

 Committee Chair  LOGO

 

 

 

NOTES:

Ms. Alonzo joined the Committee on April 26, 2023; Mr. Collin exited the Committee on April 7, 2023.

The Audit Committee is a separately-designated standing audit committee established in accordance with section 3(a)(58)(A) of the Exchange Act. Each member of the Committee is financially literate, knowledgeable and qualified to review financial statements. The Committee operates under a written charter, which it reviews annually, and adopts amendments, if necessary, to reflect changes governing financial reporting and accounting requirements or its responsibilities. The Audit Committee Report, which appears in the section entitled Audit Matters, more fully describes the activities and responsibilities of the Committee.

 

 

 

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Compensation Committee

 

 

 

 Committee Members

 

  

Neveen F.

Awad

   Winfield S.
Brown  LOGO
  

Suzanne

Foster

  

Eben S.

Moulton

   David A.
Whiteley

 

 Independent:

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

 

 Meetings in 2023:

  

 

5

  

 

5

  

 

5

  

 

4

  

 

5

 

 Latest Charter Review:

  

 

October 31, 2023

 

 Primary Charter Directives:

  

 

  To establish objectives and interpret the terms of the Company’s compensation policies with regard to base salary, incentive compensation, equity compensation, and benefits programs

  

 

  Approval of executive-level base salaries and approval and recommendation to the Board of base salaries for Named Executive Officers

  

 

  Review and approval of annual performance measures and approval of annual incentive compensation plan awards

 

 

 Committee Chair  LOGO

 

 

 

NOTES:

Mr. Moulton retired from the Board and the Committee on December 1, 2023, and therefore did not attend the last meeting of the year on December 7, 2023.

The Compensation Committee operates under a written charter, which it reviews annually and, as appropriate, amends to reflect changes in its responsibilities. The specific activities and responsibilities of the Committee are described in greater detail in the section entitled Compensation Committee Operations.

Executive Committee

 

 

 

 Committee Members

 

  

Winfield S.

Brown

  

Michael B.

Green  LOGO

   Thomas P.
Meissner, Jr.
  

Justine

Vogel

   David A.
Whiteley

 

 Independent:

  

 

  

 

     

 

  

 

 

 Meetings in 2023:

  

 

1

  

 

1

  

 

1

  

 

1

  

 

1

 

 Latest Charter Review:

  

 

January 30, 2024

 

 Primary Charter Directives:

  

 

  To act on behalf of the Board when necessary between scheduled Board meetings

  

 

  Annual Review of CEO performance (jointly with the Compensation Committee)

 

 

 Committee Chair  LOGO

 

 

 

The Executive Committee operates under a written charter, which it reviews annually and, as appropriate, amends to reflect changes in its responsibilities. Committee membership includes the Chairman of the Board, the lead director, and the chairs of the Audit, Compensation, and Nominating and Governance Committees of the Board, as well as any additional Board members appointed at the discretion of the Board.

 

 

 

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Nominating & Governance Committee

 

 

 

 Committee Members

 

  

Winfield S.

Brown

  

Suzanne

Foster

  

Michael B.

Green

   David A. 
Whiteley  LOGO

 

 Independent:

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

 

 Meetings in 2023:

  

 

4

  

 

4

  

 

4

  

 

4

 

 Latest Charter Review:

  

 

October 31, 2023

 

 Primary Charter Directives:

  

 

  The review and oversight of corporate governance standards

  

 

  To coordinate searches for potential nominees for Board members, review and evaluate qualifications of potential Board members, and recommend to the Board nominees for vacancies occurring from time to time on the Board

  

 

  To review Board member performance prior to recommendation for nomination to stand for election to an additional term

  

 

  The annual review and evaluation of Directors’ compensation and recommendation of any changes to the Board

 

 

 Committee Chair  LOGO

 

 

 

The Nominating and Governance Committee operates under a written charter, which it reviews annually and, as appropriate, amends to reflect changes in its responsibilities.

All Committees

 

The existence and activities of all committees of the Board do not alter the traditional roles and responsibilities of Unitil’s management. All committees may delegate authority to individuals or subcommittees when they deem appropriate, subject to applicable laws, rules or regulations. However, in delegating authority, a committee shall not be absolved from the responsibilities designated under the terms of its respective charter. All committees shall undertake any other action or exercise such other powers, authority, duties and responsibilities as necessary or appropriate to the discharge of the duties and responsibilities set forth in their respective charters or our Bylaws, or otherwise required by the listing standards of the NYSE or other applicable laws, rules or regulations, or as shall otherwise be determined by or assigned by the Board.

The charters for each of the standing committees are available in the Corporate Governance section of the Investor Relations section of our website at unitil.com/investors, or in print to any shareholder or other interested party, free of charge, upon request to the Office of the Secretary, Unitil Corporation, 6 Liberty Lane West, Hampton, NH 03842-1720; or to InvestorRelations@unitil.com; or by calling toll free 800-999-6501.

 

 

 

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AUDIT MATTERS

AUDIT COMMITTEE REPORT 

The following report is submitted by the Audit Committee with respect to our audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023. In discharging its oversight responsibility regarding the audit process, the Audit Committee has discussed with Deloitte & Touche LLP (“Deloitte”), our Company’s independent registered public accounting firm for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023, the matters required to be discussed by AS 1301, as adopted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. In addition, the Committee has received the written disclosures and the letter from Deloitte required by applicable requirements of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board regarding Deloitte’s communications with the Committee concerning independence and has discussed with Deloitte the firm’s independence with respect to our Company.

During 2023, the Audit Committee members received quarterly financial information for review and comment prior to the filing of each of our Forms 10-Q with the SEC. In fulfilling its responsibilities relating to the financial statements, the Committee also reviewed and discussed our significant accounting policies and the audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023, with management and Deloitte. Based on the review and discussions with management and Deloitte, the Committee recommended to the Board that the audited financial statements be included in the 2023 Form 10-K for filing with the SEC.

Audit Committee Members

 

Anne L. Alonzo, Edward F. Godfrey, Michael B. Green, and Justine Vogel (chair)

 

 

 

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PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES & SERVICES

The following table presents fees for professional services rendered by Deloitte, Unitil’s independent registered public accounting firm, for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2023, and December 31, 2022.

 

     

 

Fiscal 2023

    

 

Fiscal 2022

 

Audit Fees

   $  1,135,000    $  1,076,189

Audit-Related Fees

   $ 22,500    $ 0

Tax Fees

   $ 0    $ 0

All Other Fees

   $ 3,790    $ 0

Total Fees

   $  1,161,290      $  1,076,189

Audit Fees

In 2023 and 2022, this category includes fees incurred for professional services rendered by Deloitte for reviewing the quarterly financial statements included in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, auditing our annual financial statements included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K, and auditing our internal control over financial reporting.

Audit-Related Fees

In 2023, this category includes fees of $22,500 incurred for professional services rendered by Deloitte in connection with our filing of a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In 2022, Deloitte did not perform any audit-related services.

Tax Fees

In 2023 and 2022, Deloitte did not perform any tax services.

All Other Fees

In 2023, this category includes fees of $3,790 for cost-based non-audit services consisting of subscriptions to DART (the “Deloitte Accounting Research Tool”). In 2022, Deloitte did not perform any services that are not included in the above categories.

AUDIT COMMITTEE PRE-APPROVAL POLICY

The Audit Committee has a formal policy concerning approval of audit and non-audit services to be provided by the independent registered public accounting firm engaged to audit our consolidated financial statements. The policy requires that all services to be provided by the independent registered public accounting firm, including audit services and permitted audit-related and non-audit services, must be pre-approved by the Committee. The Committee pre-approved all audit, audit-related, tax and all other services provided by Deloitte during fiscal 2023 and 2022.

 

 

 

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COMPENSATION

COMPENSATION COMMITTEE OPERATIONS

The Compensation Committee is appointed annually by the Board and is responsible for oversight of the executive compensation program. The Committee has overall authority to establish goals and objectives and to interpret the terms of our compensation policies, including base salary, incentive compensation, equity compensation, and all benefits programs. The Committee discharges its oversight responsibilities by carrying out the specific functions and exercising the authority provided in its charter (the “Compensation Committee Charter”). See the section entitled Compensation - Compensation of Named Executive Officers - Compensation of Directors for information on the Nominating and Governance Committee’s work regarding Directors’ compensation.

The Committee has the authority to delegate some of its responsibilities to individuals or subcommittees of the Committee’s choice, subject to applicable laws, rules or regulations. However, such delegation does not absolve the Committee from the responsibilities that it bears under the terms of the Compensation Committee Charter.

The Committee has the authority to invite executive officers, members of management or other guests to attend its meetings, to perform research, or to provide relevant information or recommendations. In 2023, at the Committee’s request, Mr. Meissner, Mr. Hevert, Mr. Hurstak, and the Vice President of People, Shared Services and Organizational Effectiveness served the Committee in a consultative capacity, providing data and analytical support, as well as management perspective and recommendations relative to employee compensation and benefits, including executive compensation.

The Committee also has the authority to retain or obtain the advice of outside counsel, compensation consultants or other advisors to advise the Committee as it deems necessary. The Committee is directly responsible for the appointment, retention terms (including compensation), and oversight of the work of any adviser it retains. Prior to retaining or obtaining advice from an adviser, the Committee will consider factors relevant to the adviser’s independence from management to the extent required by the NYSE listing standards.

The Committee has periodically engaged a compensation consultant, Willis Towers Watson (“Willis Towers”), to provide compensation study data, including data from selected peer companies and compensation marketplace survey analysis, as well as to provide various recommendations based on study findings and industry trends for the Committee’s consideration. Willis Towers is engaged by and reports directly to the Compensation Committee. Willis Towers receives compensation only for services related to executive compensation, employee benefits and general compensation matters, and neither it nor any affiliated company provides any other services to us or our subsidiaries.

The Compensation Committee engaged Willis Towers in 2021 to conduct a competitive assessment of long-term incentive compensation (“LTI”) program design elements and value for senior management. The Committee requested the assessment in order to evaluate our current LTI program with regard to the alignment with competitive market practices for similar utility companies, as well as to analyze the potential separation of long-term and short-term performance incentive metrics. The assessment included a review of general LTI program design features including LTI awards (e.g., restricted stock, restricted stock units and cash), performance metrics, and vesting provisions, as well as senior management benchmarking and a market gap assessment. The Committee continued to further evaluate and develop the LTI program features, process and administration details with the assistance of Willis Towers and management in 2022, and approved a new LTI program in January 2023 with an

 

 

 

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effective date of January 1, 2023. For additional information on the transition of our equity compensation awards under the Second Amended Stock Plan in 2022 and 2023, see the section entitled Elements of Compensation -New Long-Term Equity Incentive Compensation Program of this proxy statement.

See the section entitled Compensation - Compensation Discussion and Analysis for additional information on the comprehensive compensation analysis prepared by Willis Towers in 2019 and the Committee’s work regarding compensation-related matters for the 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 compensation years.

In 2023, we incurred total expenses of $41,000 for services rendered by Willis Towers. The services were approved by the Compensation Committee as part of the Willis Towers 2023 engagement.

In addition, we requested and received information from Willis Towers to assist the Committee in determining whether its work raised any conflict of interest. Based on the responses provided by Willis Towers in its completed Conflict of Interest Questionnaire, there were no conflicts of interest in 2023.

COMPENSATION COMMITTEE INTERLOCKS & INSIDER PARTICIPATION

The current members of the Compensation Committee are not current or former officers or employees of Unitil. No member of the Committee has any relationship requiring disclosure under Item 404 of Regulation S-K, Transactions with Related Persons. In addition, none of our executive officers serve on the board of directors or compensation committee of another company where an executive officer of the other company also serves on the Board or Compensation Committee.

RISK & BROAD-BASED COMPENSATION PROGRAMS

We believe the risks that may arise from our compensation policies and practices, which include the annual short-term incentive award performance metrics, long-term incentive award performance metrics, variable and non-variable pay mix, and limited non-performance payouts, are not likely to have a material adverse effect on us because of multiple factors that work together, as summarized below.

 

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COMPENSATION DISCUSSION & ANALYSIS

2023 PERFORMANCE REVIEW

 

 

As a Company, 2023 was a challenging year. We entered the year with soaring electricity prices, continuing post-pandemic economic distortion, stubbornly high inflation, interest rate instability, energy supply volatility, and many other obstacles. Despite the challenges, at year end, we achieved record earnings of $2.82 per share, a 9% increase over 2022, and a Net Income increase to $45.2 million. This marks the third consecutive year that we delivered earnings growth greater than the high end of our 5% - 7% guidance in a challenging macro environment. Further, and equally important, we continued to build a strong foundation for sustained growth in the years ahead. Our robust investment plan will support continued modernization of our electric and gas infrastructure while advancing state climate policies and the clean energy transition.

 

Our strong financial results in 2023 were supported by a multitude of noteworthy accomplishments in the past year. These accomplishments are a testament to our resiliency and commitment to continued execution of the fundamentals of our business for continued success in the years ahead. A summary of some of these successes is below.

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Operations and Safety

 

   

We achieved outstanding electric service reliability with a SAIDI (System Average Interruption Duration Index), the total length of time the average customer is without electric service during the year measured in minutes, of 83 minutes. This result placed our Company well within the top quartile of the industry.

 

   

We achieved exceptional gas emergency response, responding to 91.2% of gas emergency calls in 30 minutes or less, which placed us as one of the top companies in the American Gas Association’s Best Practices Program.

 

   

We implemented a new Circle of Safety program improving employee safety, and achieved a Days Away, Restricted, and Transferred (“DART”) rate of 0.88 (down 44% from 2022), below the target of 1.40, and in the top third of utility peers.

Customer Service

 

   

We continued to deliver exceptional service to customers, achieving 87% overall customer satisfaction based on 2023 survey results. We also ranked as the top utility in the northeast, and third in the eastern U.S.

 

 

 

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Employee Satisfaction and Culture

 

   

We continued to sustain exceptionally high levels of employee pride and engagement. Our 2023 employee survey results indicated that 93% of employees are proud to work for us, and 87% of employees would recommend our Company as a place to work.

 

   

We were named the #2 best company by Business NH Magazine in their annual ranking of “Best Companies to Work for in New Hampshire,” cementing our status as an employer of choice in the region.

Infrastructure Investments

 

   

In 2023, we secured authorization to proceed with a utility-scale solar project in Kingston, New Hampshire, as part of our commitment to develop and invest in renewable energy projects. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission determined that the 5 MW project is in the public interest and will provide direct economic benefits to customers by generating stable, affordable, low-carbon energy in an increasingly volatile market. In February 2024, we completed all required permitting and began construction. When completed, we expect this project will generate approximately 9.7 million kilowatt hours annually, and will be the largest solar energy project of its kind in the state of New Hampshire.

 

   

We continued implementation of Volt-Var Optimization technology in Massachusetts as part of grid modernization efforts. This system has proven effective at dynamically reducing system operating voltages by approximately 3% during non-peak hours, with no adverse system conditions or customer impacts. The reduction in voltage reduces system losses, peak demand, and customer energy consumption resulting in lower customer bills.

Regulation

 

   

We successfully concluded a base rate case in Maine in just five months from the filing date to the effective date of new rates. We achieved a very favorable outcome with a revenue increase of $7.6 million, a capital structure of 52% equity and 48% debt, and a return on equity of 9.35%.

Sustainability / Carbon Reduction Commitment

 

   

We continued to advance our commitment to reduce Company-wide direct greenhouse gas emissions from 2019 levels by at least 50% by 2030, and to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

 

   

Our Electric Operations Center in Exeter, New Hampshire, became the first building in New Hampshire to achieve WELL Certification from the International WELL Building Institute. The WELL Certification process was a multi-year, cross-functional Company project centered on the science of how physical and social environments affect human health, well-being and performance.

 

   

We completed an advanced mobile leak detection pilot using state-of-the-art methane detection technology to identify gas leaks and measure the amount of methane released into the atmosphere. This pilot represents the first step in determining our actual fugitive methane emissions using physical measurements instead of generic emission factors, and is expected to result in a dramatic reduction in reported emissions.

 

 

 

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In addition to the operational successes noted above, we also continued to advance our long-term strategic planning initiatives, specifically in the areas of customer engagement, clean transportation, renewable energy, grid modernization, and diversity, equity and inclusion. We continued to accelerate dividend growth for our investors continuing our unbroken record of annual dividend payments in 2023. On January 25, 2023, the Board of Directors approved an increase in the annualized dividend to $1.62 per share, lowering our dividend payout ratio to 57%, near the low end of our long-term target range of 55% - 65%. On January 31, 2024, the Board of Directors voted to increase the 2024 annualized dividend to $1.70 per share. Additionally, we were one of the few utilities to produce a positive shareholder return in 2023, with the UTY and S&P Utilities indexes both down over 10%.

EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION POLICIES

 

EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION RECOVERY POLICY

The purpose of the Executive Compensation Recovery Policy (the “Policy”) is to provide for the recovery of certain executive compensation in the event of an accounting restatement resulting from material noncompliance with financial reporting requirements under the securities laws. In the event we are required to prepare an accounting restatement of our financial statements due to material non-compliance with any financial reporting requirement, we shall be entitled to recover any excess performance-based compensation received by any current or former Covered Executive4 during the three-year period immediately preceding the date on which we are required to prepare an accounting restatement. “Performance-based compensation5” is defined as all annual incentives and long-term incentives (whether in cash, in equity, or otherwise) granted, earned, vested or unvested with performance features based wholly or in part on our Company’s or a specified group’s attainment of a financial reporting measure. “Financial reporting measures” is defined as measures that are determined and presented in accordance with the accounting principles used in preparing our financial statements, and any measure(s) that are derived wholly or in part from these measures. We shall recover any erroneously awarded performance-based compensation in accordance with the Policy, with the exception that if the conditions of Rule 10D-1 of the Exchange Act and the listing standards of the NYSE are met, the Compensation Committee determines that recovery would be impractical. All actions taken under this Policy will comply with Section 10D of the Exchange Act and the listing standards of the NYSE.

EXECUTIVE STOCK OWNERSHIP POLICY

 

All Named Executive Officers of our Company are required to own shares of our common stock in the equivalent value of a multiple of base salary. Any newly appointed Named      

Chairman and CEO

     4X         
     

Chief Financial Officer

     3X     
     

All Other Named Executive Officers

    

 

2X

 

 

 

  

Executive Officer will have four years from the date of appointment to obtain the required shares of stock. Additional information concerning the current share ownership of our Directors and officers can be found in the section entitled Share Ownership —Beneficial Ownership.

 

4 

The term “Covered Executive” includes the Company’s:
chief executive officer; president; chief financial officer; chief accounting officer or controller; any vice president in charge of a principal business unit, division or function; any other officer who performs a policy-making function

5 

For the purposes of the Executive Compensation Recovery Policy, performance-based compensation is defined as all annual incentives and long-term incentives, whether in cash, in equity, or otherwise, with performance features based on Unitil’s or a group’s performance.

 

 

 

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EXECUTIVE STOCK RETENTION POLICY

The Board believes that our executive officers should own a significant number of shares of our common stock to properly align their interests with those of our shareholders. All Named Executive Officers are required to hold all forms of equity received as compensation until retirement or other separation from the Company. The Board, in its sole discretion, may approve a waiver to this policy as circumstances may warrant. To date, no such waivers have been proposed or approved.

PROHIBITION ON HEDGING AND/OR PLEDGING COMPANY STOCK POLICY

All members of the Board and the executive officers are prohibited from engaging in short sales or engaging in any hedging transaction with respect to Unitil common stock, as well as engaging in any transactions that result in pledging, or using as collateral, shares of Unitil common stock in order to secure personal loans or other obligations, including any shares that may be held in a margin account.

Compensation Philosophy and Administration

 

The Compensation Committee is responsible for oversight of our executive compensation program. The Committee, the Board and the Company recognize the value and importance of sound principles for the development and administration of competitive compensation and benefit programs. We believe our executive compensation program:

 

  is instrumental in the achievement of our short-term and long-term strategic and business objectives;

 

  provides appropriate rewards for the fulfillment of strong operational and financial performance; and

 

  provides appropriate rewards for practicing our core values and principles, which creates lasting value for our shareholders and other stakeholders.

 

   

 

Executive Compensation – Guiding Principles

 

 Annual compensation (currently defined as base salary, cash incentive and equity compensation for the Company’s employees, including the Executive Officers) should generally target the national market median, which is defined as the middle, or the 50th percentile, of the compensation marketplace.

 

 The compensation methodology for determining base pay increases should be the same for all executive positions including the CEO and other Named Executive Officers.

 

 The compensation methodology should include a consistent formula for determining each component of annual compensation based on both objective and verifiable market data and on attainment of selected performance measures from the Company’s approved strategic plan (the “Strategic Plan”) or other approved relevant financial performance measures.

 

 The compensation program(s) for all employees should ensure pay equity for similar jobs across the organization.

 

The Compensation Committee uses a set of guiding principles in the design and implementation of the Company’s executive compensation program, which are outlined above. The primary goal of the guiding principles is to ensure consistency and fairness in all aspects of the Committee’s oversight of compensation policy. Additional information concerning the processes and operational procedures followed by the Committee can be found in the section entitled Compensation—Compensation Committee Operations.

 

 

 

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Compensation Policy & Process

 

The principal objective of our executive compensation program is to attract, motivate, retain and reward highly qualified employees committed to the achievement of solid financial performance, outstanding service to customers, and excellence in the management of our assets. It is our belief that a strong sense of teamwork and shared responsibility are vital to achieving strong performance. Our incentive compensation reflects and supports this philosophy with an appropriate balance of financial and operational goals that apply to the entire management team. See the section entitled Compensation - Compensation Discussion and Analysis - Elements of Compensation for a discussion of the specific goals set, and results achieved, for 2023. We also believe that retention of talented and dedicated key executives will help ensure continued focus on the achievement of long-term growth in shareholder value and overall sustainability, which in turn will provide significant benefits to all of our stakeholders, including shareholders, customers and employees.

Compensation Policy – What We Do & What We Do Not Do

 

The Compensation Committee continuously strives to make improvements to our executive compensation policies. Below is a summary of what we do and what we do not do with respect to executive compensation, the totality of which the Committee and the Board believe aligns with the long-term interests of our shareholders as well as with today’s commonly accepted best practices in the market.

 

 

 

 

WHAT WE DO

 

 Apply balanced performance metrics (financial, operations, customer satisfaction)

 

 Align performance metrics with management and shareholder interests

 

 Practice prudent goal setting aligned with the Strategic Plan

 

 Ensure a majority of the CEO’s annual compensation* is variable based on performance

 

 Enforce significant stock ownership and holding policy

 

 Enforce SEC- and NYSE-compliant executive compensation recovery policy

 

 Allow only double-trigger change of control provisions

 

 Monitor pay equity across the Company

 

 

   

 

 

WHAT WE DO NOT DO

 

 Provide excise tax gross ups of any kind  in any Change of Control Agreements or  in Mr. Meissner’s Employment Agreement

 

 Allow hedging, pledging or short sale  transactions in Company stock

 

 Encourage unreasonable risk taking

 

 Grant equity awards discounted at values  below 100% fair market value

 

 Allow single-trigger change of control  provisions

 

 Provide excessive executive   prerequisites

 

 Allow new entrants into the SERP (the SERP was closed in 2018)

 

 

* The Committee defines “annual compensation” in its Guiding Principles as “base salary, cash incentive and equity compensation.”

 

 

 

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Compensation Decisions for 2021 - 2023

 

In order to prudently manage outside consulting expenses, and in particular during the COVID-19 pandemic years, the Compensation Committee decided to forego consulting work related to overall executive pay in the years 2020, 2021 and 2022. Instead, the Committee determined the information contained in the comprehensive 2019 Compensation Analysis remained relevant and therefore was used as an across-the-board assessment benchmark. The Committee also used existing compensation programs and policies previously found to be reasonable and competitive to evaluate executive compensation for 2021, 2022 and 2023. The Committee approved executive compensation paid in January of each respective year as noted. We continue to include the details of the 2019 Compensation Analysis, which is described below, as it is the base benchmark for executive compensation disclosed in this proxy statement.

 

In 2019, the Committee engaged Willis Towers to conduct a comprehensive review and assessment of senior management compensation, including

 

    

 

2019 Compensation Analysis Scope of Work

 

Review of Total Compensation Philosophy

 

Senior Management Competitive Assessment:

Detailed review of total direct compensation* for approximately 20 executive positions, including the CEO, CFO and other Named Executive Officers

 

   Confirmation of competitive marketplace and peer group  

   Assessment of pay level competitiveness and mix of total compensation  

   Competitiveness of cash and equity incentive levels  

 

Non-Union Staff Competitive Assessment:

Competitive assessment of non-union staff cash compensation for 75 jobs covering approximately 150 incumbents

 

   Cash compensation

   Appropriateness of salary structure

   Analysis of incentive targets

 

Directors’ Competitive Assessment:

Competitive assessment of total direct compensation* for outside Board members

 

   Confirmation of peer group

   Assessment of pay elements including board and committee annual retainers, meeting fees, board and committee leadership premiums

 

Broad Based Benefit Program Assessment:

Review of program design to ensure competitiveness as an element of total compensation

 

*For the purposes of this analysis, total direct compensation is defined as base salary, annual incentives and long-term incentives.

 

 

2019 Compensation Analysis Benchmarking

 

2020 Compensation Decisions

2021 Compensation Decisions

2022 Compensation Decisions

2023 Compensation Decisions

 

   

 

CEO, CFO, and other Named Executive Officers’ compensation, non-union employee compensation, employee benefits, and Directors’ compensation (the “2019 Compensation Analysis” or the “Analysis”) in the context of market practices and our compensation philosophy. The Committee requested Willis Towers provide an assessment of current levels of competitive compensation and broad-based benefit programs to use as a tool to assist the Committee with its decisions concerning, initially, 2020 compensation.

 

The Committee’s standard practice is to engage a compensation consultant to prepare a comprehensive study of all elements of compensation approximately every five years, with updates on executive compensation annually or as needed. It is anticipated that the Committee will continue to use the 2019 Compensation Analysis as a baseline benchmark until the next comprehensive analysis is completed in 2024, with annual and/or other updates as needed or requested.

 

 

 

 

 

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2019 Compensation Analysis - Summary

The 2019 Compensation Analysis scope included an overall analysis of our compensation as it relates to and supports our business strategy, alignment with the compensation philosophy, peer group identification, detailed information on executive, non-union staff and Directors’ compensation, as well as a review of the research methodology and process, key findings with regard to base salary and incentive compensation, program assessment, and several recommendations for the Committee’s consideration.

General Methodology

Towers Watson used both compensation data from published compensation surveys focused on comparably sized organizations in the utility sector and general industry sector (for “cross industry” positions), and compensation data from proxy filings of our approved peer group of 13 publicly traded utility companies with annual revenues between $275 million and $1.6 billion (the “2019 Peer Group”)6, which was approved by the Compensation Committee in April 2019 for the purposes of this Analysis.

Compensation Data from Published Compensation Surveys

Compensation data from published compensation surveys focused on comparably sized organizations in the utility sector and general industry sector (for “cross industry” positions)7. Published survey data were size-adjusted based on revenue, employee regression and/or scope parameters. Because the surveys are confidential, the specific data selected by Willis Towers did not indicate survey participants by company name.

Compensation Data from Proxy Filings

Compensation data was also extracted from the 2019 Peer Group proxy filings. The Compensation Committee used this data to analyze only the CEO’s and CFO’s compensation, with the objective of ensuring that CEO and CFO total compensation was reasonable, competitive and consistent with pay practices at peer companies.

Published compensation surveys generally provide a broader sample of data upon which to base compensation decisions, which is essential when analyzing a large number of positions as was the case with the 2019 Compensation Analysis. Data from peer company proxy filings generally validate published survey information with definitive executive compensation data from specific companies.

 

 

6 

The 2019 selected group includes ALLETE, Inc., Avista Corporation, Chesapeake Utilities Corporation, El Paso Electric Company, Genie Energy, Ltd., MGE Energy, Inc., Northwestern Corporation, Northwest Natural Gas Company, ONE Gas, Inc., Otter Tail Corporation, PNM Resources, Inc., Pattern Energy Group, Inc., South Jersey Industries, Inc.

7 

The primary sources of data were the Willis Towers Watson CDB Executive Energy Services and General Industry Compensation Databases that provide market compensation data on over 1,000 U.S. organizations, as well as other published survey sources including the Mercer Executive Compensation Survey Report.

 

 

 

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Methodology: Published Surveys

 

 Published survey data for all positions included in the Analysis were collected.

 

 Survey data for both general industry and utilities market segments reflected the size and scope similar to ours through the use of regression analysis or tabular grouping, where regression data are not available.

 

 

2019 Compensation Analysis

Pay Elements Focus

 

  Base salary

 

  Total cash compensation (base salary plus annual incentive)

 

  Total direct compensation (base salary plus annual incentive plus long-term incentive)

 

 

 Survey data were aged using an annualized rate of 3% to a common date of July 1, 2019, to ensure data consistency, where 3% represents the projected movement in senior executive compensation base pay levels for 2019.

 

 Survey data cover a large number of benchmark positions, and the median (50th percentile) of this data set approximated the 25th percentile of the smaller proxy-based data set.

Methodology: Peer Group Proxy Filings

 

   

A benchmarking assessment was prepared using position-specific market data to compare current compensation levels for the CEO and the CFO with compensation levels for comparable positions.

 

   

Market data for total direct compensation elements were extracted for the 25th percentile, the 50th percentile (median), and the 75th percentile.

 

   

Based on the size of the 2019 Peer Group companies relative to our financial profile (based on fiscal year-end 2018 revenues and number of employees), Willis Towers recommended that we focus on the 25th percentile information within this data set.

Willis Towers completed the 2019 Compensation Analysis in July 2019, and provided a comprehensive report outlining the findings of the Analysis and associated recommendations to the Committee for review and consideration.

The 2019 Compensation Analysis allowed the Committee to gain a greater understanding of then current compensation in the context of market practices, establish a benchmark upon which to base its compensation decisions for compensation years 2020 through 2023, and accurately assess the competitiveness of each executive officer’s, including the CEO’s and CFO’s, overall compensation and alignment with the Committee’s Compensation Philosophy. It is anticipated that the Committee will use the 2019 Compensation Analysis as a baseline study, with periodic updates as needed, until the next comprehensive analysis is prepared, which we anticipate will occur in 2024.

 

 

 

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Evaluation of Base Salary and Incentive Compensation:

President and Chief Administrative Officer Position

As part of our ongoing management succession planning process, in early 2023, the Board decided to split the positions of chief executive officer and president to address the May 1, 2023, planned retirement of Todd R. Black as senior vice president of external affairs and customer relations, and to provide opportunities for advancement and development of existing members of senior management. Effective on May 1, 2023, Robert B. Hevert (formerly senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer) was promoted to the newly created position of president and chief administrative officer with expanded responsibilities for external affairs and customers relations. Mr. Hevert’s promotion also set into motion additional senior management promotions, including, among others, Daniel J. Hurstak (formerly controller and chief accounting officer) being promoted to senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer. Mr. Meissner relinquished the position of president, but retained the positions of chairman of the board and chief executive officer.

In the spring of 2023, we initiated our salary administration process (described in detail below), and engaged Willis Towers to review and evaluate the duties and accountabilities outlined in the job description of president and chief administrative officer and gather competitive market compensation data. The purpose of the engagement of Willis Towers was to ensure Mr. Hevert was appropriately and fairly compensated in his new role for which we had no previous references or benchmarks from a past compensation analysis or related study. Willis Towers utilized executive compensation databases to conduct a comprehensive compensation review for this new executive officer position. Specifically, Willis Towers utilized data from its Energy Services Executive Compensation surveys and its General Industry Executive Compensation surveys to compile an appropriate compensation recommendation. The data provided by Willis Towers was tiered at the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles. In keeping with our compensation guiding principles to pay employees at the median of the market, the Compensation Committee approved base salary, short-term incentive compensation and long-term incentive compensation target opportunity levels that approximated the 50th percentile of the market compensation data reviewed. For additional information on Mr. Hevert’s 2023 compensation, please see the section entitled Compensation of Named Executive Officers of this proxy statement.

Salary Administration

 

Our Salary Administration Policy has three objectives:

 

   

to provide a compensation program equal to or better than the median of compensation programs provided by geographically comparable businesses;

 

   

to manage base salaries in a manner that recognizes and appropriately rewards performance within prescribed budgetary limits; and

 

   

to provide base salary opportunities that are competitive with external pay practices for substantially comparable work.

 

 

 

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The Salary Administration Policy includes three important components:

 

 

Job Description
Every employee of the Company has a job description that represents his or her
position within the Company. All job descriptions are written using a requisite format
describing the position purpose, principal accountabilities, competencies, challenges,
decision-making authority, qualifications, and scope and quantitative dimensions.

 

Job Evaluation
We use a variety of published salary sources and survey data to assist in the review and
evaluation of non-executive, non-union job descriptions in order to confirm reasonable
and appropriate base compensation for each position. See also the section entitled
Compensation - Base Salary below. This practice provides for internal equity between
comparable positions as well as external comparability with other companies. The end
result of the job evaluation process is that each job is assigned a pay grade that
translates into a salary range. Executive level positions (including the Named Executive
Officers) are reviewed and evaluated independently by Willis Towers.

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Market Analysis & Salary Range
We participate in numerous salary market studies to ensure that the competitiveness of base salaries is maintained. We
adjust the salary ranges each year based upon the results of these surveys to ensure that we maintain our salary ranges at
the median market level. Historically, the salary ranges have been adjusted by approximately 2 - 4 % annually based on
market survey data. The midpoint of the base salary range is set at the median level of the broad-based published
compensation survey group when compared to similar positions at comparable companies. The minimum in the salary range
is determined by multiplying the midpoint by 80%, and the maximum is determined by multiplying the midpoint by 120%. In
general, the salary range minimum is commonly the lowest amount we will pay a new employee in the job, with the aim of
employees reaching the midpoint of the range within five years. The midpoint is where we strive to pay fully trained, fully
competent employees. The midpoint to maximum range is where high-performing employees and long-term employees
tend to be paid. Exceptions are occasionally made based on experience, skills, education, and other factors.

Base Salary

 

We set base salary ranges for every job grade and position based upon salary survey data provided by Willis Towers and in accordance with the Salary Administration Policy described above. In relation to each Named Executive Officer, base salary is set within the salary range based upon individual experience, skills, and education, as well as performance relative to individual annual goals. This process is used for both executive and non-executive positions.

Short-Term Incentive Compensation – Cash Incentive

 

We set annual target cash incentive awards equal to the median of the broad-based published compensation survey group for the executive officers’ target cash incentive awards at other comparable companies based on data provided by Willis Towers. The Committee also used information from the proxy statements of our peer group, at the 25th percentile target, as a secondary source to set the CEO’s and

 

 

 

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48


CFO’s annual target cash incentive award. We have developed a “balanced score card” approach to setting goals for the annual incentive awards, which includes certain goals from the Strategic Plan that represent success in financial results, electric reliability, gas safety, customer service and distribution cost per customer. The Compensation Committee approves the quantitative goals, also referred to as performance metrics, for these awards annually. See the section entitled Compensation -Compensation Discussion and Analysis— Elements of Compensation for a discussion of the balanced score card.

Long-Term Incentive Compensation – Equity Compensation

 

We grant shares of restricted stock to selected management participants in the Second Amended Stock Plan generally on an annual basis. The size of the annual restricted stock award (the “target award”) is based upon the midpoint of the participant’s salary grade, multiplied by the participant’s salary grade multiplier, ( i.e., the equity compensation opportunity percentage), divided by the 30-day average stock price of our common stock,8 less the percentage of anticipated Federal and Medicare taxes to equal the number of shares to be granted. The salary grade multiplier is based on research data provided by Willis Towers in their competitive assessment (the “Assessment”) of long-term incentive compensation (“LTI”) program design conducted in 2022. Willis Towers incorporated information from the proxy statements of our peer group into the Assessment as a benchmark to set the salary grade multiplier. For additional information on the Willis Towers Assessment of LTI program design, see the section entitled Compensation Committee Operations in this proxy statement.

All Named Executive Officers are required to hold all forms of equity, vested or unvested, received as compensation until retirement or other separation from Unitil. The Board, in its sole discretion, may approve a waiver to this policy as circumstances may warrant. However, to date, no such waiver has been requested or granted.

Performance-Related Incentive Compensation

In addition to individual performance, overall Company performance is a critical component in the determination of how each individual executive is paid relative to the market median of the broad-based published compensation survey group, as described above. See also the section entitled Compensation – Compensation of Named Executive Officers– Proportional Compensation for additional information on performance-related compensation.

CEO Pay Ratio

 

Summary

As required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted a rule requiring annual disclosure of the ratio of the median employee’s annual total compensation to the total annual compensation of the principal executive officer. Our principal executive officer is Mr. Meissner (the “CEO”).

 

 

8 

Generally, the 30-day average stock price is calculated using the Unitil common stock closing price from (approximately) December 15 of the prior year through January 15 of the current year.

 

 

 

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We believe the compensation program and salary administration policy should be consistent and internally equitable to motivate all employees to perform in ways that enhance shareholder value. We also believe that our compensation philosophy and processes yield an equitable result for all employees, which is reflected in the resulting ratio.

Methodology

To reasonably identify the median employee, we prepared a list of all active employees (excluding the CEO) as of December 31, 2023. The list included part-time employees. As of December 31, 2023, we employed 531 people of which 349 were non-union employees and 182 were union employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

Next, we extracted the taxable wages number reported in Box 1 of the 2023 Form W-2 from our payroll records for each employee, excluding the CEO. We did not annualize wages and salaries for those employees who were not employed for the full year of 2023. The median employee was then identified based on taxable wages as reported on Form W-2. Once identified, we calculated the median employee’s total annual compensation in the same manner as “Total Compensation” shown for the CEO in the Summary Compensation Table in the section entitled Compensation – Compensation of Named Executive Officers.

Results

The table below shows the information used for the calculation of the ratio of the estimated annual total compensation of the median employee identified using the methodology described above to the annual total compensation of Mr. Meissner as calculated for the Summary Compensation Table.

 

 

2023 PAY RATIO TABLE

 

 
    Year     Salary    

Stock

Awards (1)

   

Non-Equity

Incentive Plan

Compensation (2)

   

Change in

Pension

Value (3)

 

All Other

Compensation (4)

    Total  
(a)   (b)     (C)     (d)     (e)     (f)   (g)     (h)  

 

 Thomas P. Meissner, Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2023

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$678,119

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$706,961

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$515,709

 

 

 

 

 

 

$567,527

 

 

 

 

 

 

$157,154

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$2,625,890

 

 

 

 

 

 Median Employee

 

 

 

 

 

 

2023

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$92,064

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$4,899

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$10,729

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$107,692

 

 

 

 

                                                     
   

Ratio of Median Employee’s to Mr. Meissner’s Annual Total Compensation:

 

    1:24  

 

 

NOTES:

 

  (1)

The value shown represents the grant date fair value, calculated in accordance with FASB ASC Topic 718, of the award of restricted stock granted under the Second Amended Stock Plan on January 24, 2023. The grant date fair value is based on the closing price of Unitil common stock of $51.83 on January 24, 2023. See also the Summary Compensation Table in the section entitled Compensation of Named Executive Officers.

 

  (2)

The values shown include cash incentive awarded on January 30, 2024, for 2023 Management Incentive Plan results. See also the Summary Compensation Table in the section entitled Compensation - Compensation of Named Executive Officers.

 

  (3)

The value shown for Mr. Meissner includes the change in Pension value and the change in the Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan (the “SERP”) value. See also the Summary Compensation Table in the section entitled Compensation - Compensation of Named Executive Officers.

 

 

 

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  (4)

The value shown for Mr. Meissner for the year 2023 includes an annual vehicle allowance, the Company’s contributions to 401(k) and HSA accounts, non-preferential dividends earned in 2023 on the shares of restricted stock awarded in 2023, and the tax adjustment on the shares of restricted stock that vested for tax purposes in 2023 in accordance with the provisions of the Second Amended Stock Plan. The value shown for the median employee includes the Company’s contributions to 401(k) and HSA accounts, as well as the wellness benefit payment. See also the Summary Compensation Table in the section entitled Compensation - Compensation of Named Executive Officers.

Shareholder Advisory Vote on Executive Compensation

 

As required by the Dodd-Frank Act, we must provide the opportunity for shareholders to vote, on an advisory basis, on the compensation of executives (commonly known as a “say-on-pay” proposal). We present the say-on-pay proposal to our shareholders annually.

 

 

 

 

2023 Voting Result

 

At the 2023 annual meeting of shareholders, we presented the required non-binding advisory say-on-pay vote on the compensation of our Named Executive Officers as Proposal 4. As we reported in the Current Report on Form 8-K, filed with the SEC on May 2, 2023, 97% of shareholders approved, by advisory vote, the compensation of our Named Executive Officers. The Compensation Committee continues to believe the significant compensation and governance-related policy changes made in 2018 are reflected in the consistently superior say-on-pay advisory vote results in 2019 through 2023.

  

 

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Compensation-Related Policies

 

  No excise tax gross up provision in any Change of Control Agreements

 

  No excise tax gross up provisions in Mr. Meissner’s Employment Agreement

 

   Executive Compensation Recovery Policy

 

   Executive Stock Ownership Policy

 

   Stock Retention Policy for Directors and Executives

 

   Anti-Hedging and/or Pledging of Company Stock Policy

 

  

 

Compensation Committee Commitment

 

The Compensation Committee remains committed to meeting the objectives that our compensation policies and practices are contemporary, transparent, meet shareholder expectations, and in line with corporate governance best practices. Details on all compensation and governance-related policies are outlined in the section of this proxy statement entitled Corporate Governance.

 

Our 2024 say-on-pay proposal is included in this proxy statement as Proposal 4: Vote, on an Advisory Basis, of the Compensation of the Company’s Named Executive Officers.

 

 

 

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ELEMENTS OF COMPENSATION

 

Base Salary

 

Every employee is paid a base salary. The purpose of base salary is to reward employees for the expertise and value they bring to their jobs. Base salary is determined according to our salary policy, which assigns each position a grade and a corresponding salary range. We set salary ranges for every position based upon comparative salary data provided by Willis Towers. The midpoint of the salary range is set at the median level of the broad-based published compensation survey group when compared to similar positions at comparable companies. The minimum parameter in the salary range is determined by multiplying the midpoint by 80%, and the maximum parameter is determined by multiplying the midpoint by 120%. The salary range is then used to manage each employee’s salary, which is based on merit, within the range. For each employee (including Named Executive Officers), base salary is set within the salary range based upon individual performance relative to individual annual goals. The elements of individual performance differ depending on the individual position, but generally include: quality of work; successful completion of established goals; ability to initiate creative solutions; adaptability to change; and impact on our overall performance. The salaries of all employees (including the Named Executive Officers) are reviewed annually, as well as at the time of a promotion or change in responsibilities.

 

Each position (including all executive officer positions) has a job description that outlines the accountabilities and competencies required. Merit increases are considered at the end of the year based on the evaluation of each person’s performance as related to each accountability listed in the individual job description, as well as the achievement of individual goals established at the beginning of the year. Executive officers' merit

    

 

Named Executive Officer

 

 

 

 

 

 

     Cumulative 2023
 Base Salary Increase 

 

 

 
 

 

 
     Mr. Meissner     5.10%     
     Mr. Hevert     14.91%     
     Mr. Hurstak     19.19%     
     Mr. Eisfeller     5.63 %     
     Mr. LeBlanc     6.35%     
    

Mr. Black

 

    -65.88%     
        

increases also include evaluation of overall Company performance for the year. Merit increases are generally effective as of January 1 of each year. Merit increases also are one of the methods used to reach one of our competitive compensation guiding principles, which is to ensure that employees are paid at or near the market median of the broad-based published compensation survey group. Merit increases may also be adjusted by the Compensation Committee to reflect the market value of a job when compared to similar positions at other companies within our peer group, as recommended by Willis Towers.

The process followed to determine base salary increases for the Named Executive Officers begins with an annual summary and evaluation of Unitil’s overall performance provided to the Board by the CEO, which generally occurs in mid-January. The Compensation Committee and the Executive Committee meet jointly in executive session to discuss the evaluation of our overall performance, as well as to discuss the CEO’s performance in relation to our performance for the year, considering both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the performance of both the CEO and our Company as a whole. The Compensation Committee uses the feedback gained in the joint meeting along with the market competitive salary information previously described to determine an appropriate base salary increase for the CEO based on both merit and

 

 

 

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market conditions. The CEO provides a recommendation to the Compensation Committee for base salary increases for the other Named Executive Officers. The Compensation Committee then reviews and recommends the base salaries of all of the Named Executive Officers to the full Board for discussion and approval. The Committee’s recommendations are based on the performance evaluations and market information for each of the Named Executive Officers. Each Named Executive Officer received the base salary increase percentage from 2022 to 2023 as noted in the table above. Mr. Hevert and Mr. Hurstak were promoted to President and Chief Administrative Officer and to Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, respectively, on May 1, 2023, and the increase in base salary resulting from those promotions is reflected in the percentages noted above. Mr. Black retired on May 1, 2023, and the negative percentage increase shown reflects a partial base salary paid in 2023.

Incentive Compensation

 

Management Incentive Plan

The Unitil Corporation Management Incentive Plan (the “Management Incentive Plan”) provides annual cash incentive payments based upon the attainment of specified goals selected from the Strategic Plan. The Compensation Committee selects participants in the plan and establishes their individual target awards. All executives (including the Named Executive Officers) are participants in the Management Incentive Plan. The purpose of the Management Incentive Plan, which is consistent with our principal compensation objective, is to provide executives with significant incentives related to performance, thereby providing motivation to maximize efforts on behalf of all of our stakeholders. The Management Incentive Plan is further intended to provide executives with competitive target levels of total compensation when considered with base salaries.

 

For the annual incentive awards, annual quantitative performance goals are established by the Compensation Committee. These goals, which relate to key performance metrics selected from the Strategic Plan, are the same for all employees (including executive officers) to ensure that employees are focused on common bottom-line business, customer service, and operational results. These goals are discussed below in the subsection entitled Incentive    

Named Executive
Officer

 

  

 

     Target Cash Award
(% of Base Salary)

 

  
    Mr. Meissner    65%   
   

Mr. Hevert

   50%   
   

Mr. Hurstak

   45%   
   

Mr. Eisfeller

   35%   
   

Mr. LeBlanc

   35%   
   

Mr. Black

   35%   
         
Compensation Performance Metrics and Goals. Under the Management Incentive Plan, executive officers receive a cash award if the quantitative goals that are set by the Committee are met. Each executive officer’s Management Incentive Plan target award is established as a percentage of base salary based on the market median of the broad-based published compensation survey group for his or her position when compared to other comparable companies, calculated using data provided by Willis Towers. The Committee also used information from the proxy statements of our peer group, at the 25th percentile target, as a secondary source to set the CEO’s and CFO’s Management Incentive Plan target award. The table above shows the Management Incentive Plan target awards for 2023 performance as a percentage of base salary for the Named Executive Officers.

 

 

 

 

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Actual awards may be less than or greater than the target awards depending upon final results achieved. In addition, the Committee has the authority to increase or decrease the annual cash incentive award under the Management Incentive Plan when the final results calculation does not properly balance the interests of employees and shareholders. The Committee also has the sole discretion to pay no award when one would otherwise be paid. The Committee has in the past exercised its discretion to both increase and decrease award payments but did not exercise its discretion in connection with the awards for 2023 results.

Second Amended and Restated 2003 Stock Plan 

The Unitil Corporation Second Amended and Restated 2003 Stock Plan (as amended, the “Second Amended Stock Plan”) was initially approved by shareholders at the 2003 annual meeting of shareholders, amended and restated on March 24, 2011, and again amended and restated, effective April 19, 2012. Participation in the Second Amended Stock Plan is currently limited to Directors, executive officers and other employees and consultants selected by the Compensation Committee. Common stock, restricted stock and restricted stock units (“RSUs”) may be issued to participants in the Second Amended Stock Plan. The

 

Stock Plan Objectives

 

 Optimize profitability and growth through incentives that link the personal interests of participants to those of shareholders through the ownership of Unitil common stock

 

 Provide participants with an incentive for excellence in individual performance

 

  Promote teamwork among participants

 

 Encourage stock ownership in the Company for all employee participants in the Stock Plan

 

  

objectives of the Second Amended Stock Plan are directly tied to the principal compensation objective.

 

On March 18, 2024, subject to shareholder approval at the Annual Meeting, the Board amended and restated, the Second Amended Stock Plan to increase the maximum number of shares available for awards to participants under the Second Amended Stock Plan. A description of the Second Amended Stock Plan, as amended and restated as the Third Amended and Restated 2003 Stock Plan (the “Third Amended Stock Plan”), is included in Proposal 2: Approval of the Unitil Corporation Third Amended and Restated 2003 Stock Plan.

The Committee feels that equity-based compensation ensures that executive officers have a continuing stake in our long-term success. Executive officers are subject to both stringent stock ownership requirements as well as a retention requirement which stipulates that all forms of equity received as compensation be held until retirement or other separation from the Company. The Committee believes that the retention requirement provides an additional element of incentive to increase shareholder value over the long term. The details of the stock ownership and retention requirements are discussed in greater detail below.

New Long-Term Equity Incentive Compensation Program

On January 24, 2023, the Compensation Committee approved a new long-term equity incentive compensation program (the “New LTIP”) that is applicable to the grant of restricted stock awards to the Named Executive Officers and other senior management participants (collectively, the “Participants”).

 

 

 

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Under the New LTIP, in general, we grant to Participants selected by the Compensation Committee, on an annual basis, (i) restricted shares that generally vest over a period of four years at a rate of 25% per year subject to continued employment with us (“Time Restricted Shares”) and (ii) restricted shares that generally vest based on the satisfaction of certain performance metrics (“Performance Restricted Shares”). The number of such awards is not based upon our achievement of key performance metrics under the Management Incentive Plan for the prior calendar year. Instead, the number of each Participant’s Time Restricted Shares and Performance Restricted Shares, in the aggregate (the “Total Number”), is calculated using the formula illustrated in the flow chart to the right.

 

The Total Number incorporates anticipated income taxes and Medicare taxes, with the Second Amended Stock Plan participants receiving the shares net of such taxes, subject to the vesting schedule. As the shares vest, they become taxable income to the participant, and the anticipated taxes, previously accounted for, are credited back to participants. This procedure reduces both the dilutive effect of the Second Amended Stock Plan by granting fewer shares than would otherwise be granted, and the volatility of our stock in the market by eliminating stock sales that would otherwise be completed to pay personal income taxes. The Total Number of restricted shares provides a market competitive award while minimizing both dilution and volatility.

  

 

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Name

 

  

 

2023 Multiplier

 

     The table to the left summarizes the 2023 multiplier for Mr. Meissner, Mr. Hevert, Mr. Hurstak, Mr. Eisfeller, Mr. LeBlanc, and Mr. Black (prior to retirement).
 

 Thomas P. Meissner, Jr.

 Robert B. Hevert

 Daniel J. Hurstak

 Justin Eisfeller

 Christopher J. LeBlanc

 Todd R. Black

 

  

135% 

70% 

45% 

45% 

45% 

45% 

 

  
       

Time Restricted Shares

Time Restricted Shares generally vest over a period of four years at a rate of 25% each year. Prior to the end of the vesting period, Time Restricted Shares are subject to forfeiture if the Participant’s employment terminates other than due to death, disability or retirement. During the vesting period, dividends on Time Restricted Shares are paid to the Participants.

 

 

 

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Performance Restricted Shares

Performance Restricted Shares generally vest after a performance period of three years based on the attainment of certain performance thresholds of certain defined performance metrics, each as set by the Compensation Committee at the beginning of the performance period. On January 24, 2023, the Compensation Committee selected two performance metrics for the three-year performance period starting January 1, 2023 through December 31, 2025:

 

   

three-year average return on common equity (the “ROE Goal”); and

 

   

three-year average growth in book value per share (the “Book Value Goal”).

Performance Restricted Shares are generally granted at target at the beginning of the performance period.

Summary of Time Restricted Shares and Performance Restricted Shares

The following table summarizes certain terms of the Time Restricted Shares and the Performance Restricted Shares.

 

Award Type

 

 

Percentage of
Award

 

 

Vesting Description

 

  

Performance
Threshold 
(1)

 

  

Amount of Award
Vested 
(2)

 

         

Time Restricted Shares

  50% of Total Number   Award vests over a four-year period at a rate of 25% per year, generally subject to continued employment.    n/a    100% of Time Restricted Shares will vest over a four-year period at a rate of 25% per year, generally subject to continued employment.

Performance Restricted Shares

  50% of Total Number   50% of Performance Restricted Shares will vest if Company achieves its target ROE Goal    minimum   

25% vesting of Performance Restricted Shares

 

   target   

50% vesting of Performance Restricted Shares

 

   maximum   

75% vesting of Performance Restricted Shares

 

  50% of Performance Restricted Shares will vest if Company achieves its target Book Value Goal    minimum   

25% vesting of Performance Restricted Shares

 

   target   

50% vesting of Performance Restricted Shares

 

   maximum   

75% vesting of Performance Restricted Shares

 

 

 

NOTES:

 

  (1)

If the level of attainment of the ROE Goal or the Book Value Goal exceeds the minimum but is less than the target, then the number of shares that will vest or be forfeited will be determined on a straight-line basis between the minimum and the target. If the level of achievement of the ROE Goal or the Book Value Goal exceeds the target but is less than the maximum, then the number of shares that will vest or be forfeited will be determined on a straight-line basis between the target and the maximum.

 

 

 

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  (2)

If the number of Performance Restricted Shares that would vest exceeds 100%, then additional shares (“Additional Shares”) will be issued to each Participant in an amount equal to the vesting percentage in excess of 100% multiplied by the number of each Participant’s Performance Restricted Shares issued at the beginning of the performance period.

Prior to the end of the performance period, the Performance Restricted Shares are subject to forfeiture if the Participant’s employment terminates other than due to death, disability or retirement. In the event of death, disability or retirement, vesting will be pro-rated based on the number of months of service completed during the performance period.

 

During the performance period, dividends on Performance Restricted Shares are paid to the Participant. Dividends on Additional Shares will be paid only after the Additional Shares are issued.

 

On January 24, 2023, the Compensation Committee approved the 2023 stock awards for Named Executive Officers as shown in the table to the right.

 

 

2023 LONG-TERM INCENTIVE STOCK AWARDS

 

 

  Name     

Performance
Restricted
Shares
 
 
 
    

Time
Restricted
Shares
 
 
 
    
Total Stock
Award
 
 
 

Thomas P. Meissner, Jr.

     6,820        6,820        13,640  
 

Robert B. Hevert

     2,020        2,020        4,040  
 

Daniel J. Hurstak

     970        970        1,940  
 

Justin Eisfeller

     970        970        1,940  
 

Christopher J. LeBlanc

     970        970        1,940  
 

Todd R. Black

     970        970        1,940  

Stock Ownership & Holding Requirement for Executive Officers

 

 

The Board believes that executive officers of the Company should own a significant number of shares of our common stock to properly align their interests with those of our shareholders. All Named Executive Officers are required to own shares of Unitil common stock   

 

Chairman and CEO

Chief Financial Officer

All Other Named Executive Officers

 

  

 

4X 

3X 

2X 

 

in the equivalent value of a multiple of base salary. All shares of Unitil common stock that are owned directly or beneficially, shares of restricted stock that are awarded, whether vested or unvested, as well as any shares of stock held in the Unitil Stock Fund of the Tax Deferred Savings and Investment Plan will be counted towards the required total. Any newly appointed Named Executive Officer will have four years from the date of appointment to obtain the required shares of stock. As of the date of this proxy statement, all current Named Executive Officers have met the stock ownership requirement, with the exception of Mr. Hurstak. Mr. Hurstak was appointed Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of the Company in May 2023, and he will have until May 2027 to meet the ownership requirement.

All Named Executive Officers are also required to hold all forms of equity received as compensation until retirement or other separation from the Company. The Board, in its sole discretion, may approve a waiver to this policy as circumstances may warrant. To date, no such waivers have been proposed or approved. Additional information concerning the share ownership of Named Executive Officers can be found in the section of this proxy statement entitled Share Ownership - Beneficial Ownership.

 

 

 

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Management Incentive Plan Performance Metrics and Goals

 

The Management Incentive Plan includes performance metrics and goals that are integral to determine any officer’s compensation awarded. The current performance metrics and goals are also linked to the Strategic Plan.

Selecting the Performance Metrics and Setting the Goals

Performance metrics and goals are recommended by management annually as part of the strategic planning process. In the Strategic Plan, performance metrics and goals are aligned with the strategies defined for the coming year. The Strategic Plan includes suggested targets for each performance metric, which is reviewed and approved by the Board each year. The Compensation Committee then selects the key performance metrics to be applied to the Management Incentive Plan.

 

LOGO    When selecting the key performance metrics, the Committee considers a number of factors, including the appropriate mix of financial, operations, and customer-centric metrics, as well as the obligation to meet the various state public utility regulatory requirements to include a certain percentage of operations and customer-focused metrics. The Committee also reviews prior years’ goals and results to ensure stretch goals are set, and may also consider recommendations from Willis Towers when selecting the optimal combination for the coming year. The Committee believes that a prudently set and balanced mix of key performance metrics provides the opportunity, and the incentive, for all employees to contribute to our measurements of success.

 

 

 

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The table below shows the short-term performance metrics selected and goals set by the Committee for the 2023 annual cash incentive awards under the Management Incentive Plan, as well as the performance results calculated for 2023.

2023 PERFORMANCE METRICS, GOALS & RESULTS

 

 

Metric: 2023

 

 

Award Category

& Goals

 

 

Result

 

  

Target

Weight

 

  

Factor

 

  

 

Weighted 

Performance 

Factor 

 

Earnings Per Share

 

Threshold: $2.61

Target: $2.75

Maximum: $2.89

 

 

$2.82

 

[above target, below maximum]

 

   40%    1.25    50% 

Gas Safety

 

Threshold: 84%

Target: 86%

Maximum: 88%

 

 

91.21%

 

[maximum]

   10%    1.50    15% 

Electric Reliability

 

Threshold: 159 minutes

Target: 122 minutes

Maximum: 85 minutes

 

 

83.01 minutes

 

[maximum]

   10%    1.50    15% 

Customer Satisfaction

 

Threshold: 78%

Target: 83%

Maximum: 88%

 

 

87%

 

[above target, below maximum]

 

   10%    1.40    14% 

Cost Per Customer

 

Electric

Threshold: $344

Target: $329

Maximum: $315

 

 

$341.54

 

[above target, below threshold]

   15%    0.58    9% 
   

Gas

Threshold: $516

Target: $488

Maximum: $460

 

 

$493.55

 

[above target, below threshold]

 

   15%    0.90    14% 

TOTAL

           100%         117% 

The Weighted Performance Factor of 117% for 2023 indicates the payout percentage relative to Target used to calculate the actual cash awards for Management Incentive Plan participants using the applicable formula described in the section entitled Incentive Compensation Formulas.

 

 

 

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2023 Key Performance Metrics and Goals: Defined

Earnings Per Share (“EPS”)

The goals for the EPS metric are set as a target based on the approved current year EPS budget with a plus/minus 5% range to maximum and threshold, respectively, from the target value. The Compensation Committee set the 2023 EPS target equivalent to our budgeted 2023 EPS of $2.75, and agreed that a 5% range from the approved budget to the threshold is a practical goal, and a 5% range from the approved budget to the maximum is a reasonable stretch goal considering, among other things, the continued economic uncertainty in early 2023. The Committee also agreed that the plus/minus 5% range provided good symmetry in the goals for this metric.

Gas Safety

Gas safety is measured as the percentage of the response time to natural gas odor calls answered within a pre-set response time window. In 2023, the response time target is based on a best in class 30-minute response standard. Similar to electric reliability, described below, the shorter the response time standard, the more rigorous the target. In defining the threshold, the Committee considered the minimum acceptable percentage to be not less than 84% and the maximum percentage to be at least 88% of the natural gas odor calls responded to in person be within 30 minutes. For 2023, we responded to 91.21% of our natural gas odor calls within the 30-minute pre-set response time window.

Electric Reliability

Electric reliability is benchmarked using an industry standard index, SAIDI (System Average Interruption Duration Index). SAIDI represents the total length of time the average customer is without electric service during the year, measured in minutes. For added perspective on this metric, a lower number of minutes (without electric service) equates to a more stringent target. The target for reliability performance is set using the rolling five-year average of the median of peer group reliability based on the national Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (“IEEE”) benchmarking survey.9 In 2023, we achieved exceptional electric service reliability with a SAIDI of 83.01 minutes, marking two consecutive years of top-quartile reliability performance.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is measured using direct customer survey feedback to the question “How satisfied are you with the service, excluding price, you are receiving from Unitil?” as compared to the current national benchmark for residential customer satisfaction as compiled by an independent human behavior and analytics firm. The survey is administered twice each year from a system-generated random selection of customers from our database. The national benchmark in 2023 was 83%, which was set as the target, with maximum and threshold at plus or minus 5%, respectively. In 2023, despite extraordinarily high energy costs in the New England region, we exceeded the target with 87% in overall customer satisfaction. From a benchmarking perspective, compared to our defined utility peer groups (eastern U.S. and northeast U.S. regions), we ranked first among eight northeast U.S. utilities, and third among 23 eastern U.S. utilities.

 

9 

The national IEEE benchmarking survey collects information from participants anonymously, therefore specific peer company information is not available.

 

 

 

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Cost Per Customer

Distribution cost per customer is measured against our same-year approved operations and maintenance (“O&M”) cost per customer budget. Results are weighted 50% electric and 50% gas. The minimum and maximum range stretch factors are determined from the previous 10 years’ O&M budget variance standard deviation. Target is determined using a stretch factor of zero. For added perspective on this metric, a lower cost per customer equates to a more stringent target. For 2023, our O&M cost per customer for electric division customers was $341.54, and $493.55 for gas division customers.

Cash Incentive Compensation Formula

 

 

Our cash incentive compensation award formula is based on the Weighted Performance Factor, which is the total actual quantitative performance calculation derived by multiplying the “target weight” of each performance metric by the corresponding “factor.” The “factor” is based upon where the actual performance results fall on the continuum of threshold—target—maximum, with “target” assigned a “factor” of 100%, “threshold” assigned a “factor” of 50%, and “maximum” assigned a “factor” of 150%. The total Weighted Performance Factor is the sum of the Weighted Performance Factor of each performance metric. Additional credit, or “weight,” is not provided for performance that achieves values greater than the maximum determined by the Committee, and no credit is given for performance that fails to achieve the threshold determined by the Committee.

  

 

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The Role of the Compensation Committee

 

The Compensation Committee Charter provides the Committee with the authority to approve annual cash incentive and long-term compensation plan restricted stock awards in light of the established corporate goals and strategic objectives; to determine whether annual and/or long-term incentive compensation plan awards have been earned; and to apply a qualitative adjustment to increase or decrease the annual cash incentive award under the Management Incentive Plan, and/or the restricted stock award under the Second Amended Stock Plan. The Committee has in the past exercised discretion to both increase and decrease award payments when such calculation did not properly balance the interests of employees and shareholders, but did not exercise its discretion in connection with the 2023 awards.

The Committee meets annually in the first fiscal quarter to review the performance metrics and results for the previous year, and to approve the annual cash incentive awards and the annual grant of restricted stock awards under the Second Amended Stock Plan. The Committee approved the annual cash incentive awards under the Management Incentive Plan for 2023 performance on January 30, 2024. The Committee

 

 

 

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approved the grant of restricted stock awards under the Second Amended Stock Plan on January 24, 2023. For additional information see the section entitled Elements of Compensation – New Long-Term Equity Incentive Compensation Program of this proxy statement.

Other Benefits

 

Unitil Corporation Retirement Plan

The Unitil Corporation Retirement Plan (the “Retirement Plan”) is a traditional Defined Benefit Pension Plan covering certain employees of Unitil and our subsidiary companies that provides retirement income benefits based upon years of service, age at retirement and final five-year average salary. The Retirement Plan is closed to new participants, effective January 1, 2010. Employees hired after January 1, 2010 participate in an enhanced 401(k) plan instead of the Retirement Plan. In addition, at the time of closure of the Retirement Plan, existing employee participants were offered a one-time opportunity to elect to remain an active participant in the Retirement Plan, or to accept a frozen Retirement Plan benefit and move to the enhanced 401(k) Plan.

Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan

 

The purpose of the Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan (the “SERP”) is to provide enhanced retirement benefits to certain key executives selected by the Board in order to encourage continued service by these executives until retirement. Currently, Mr. Meissner is the only active employee participant in the SERP. Mr. Black, who retired in May 2023, is also a participant in the SERP. The SERP was closed to any new entrants in 2018. See also the Pension  

 

SERP Enhanced Retirement Plan Benefits

 

   all cash compensation towards the benefits formula is counted which provides a bypass to the compensation limits imposed by the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”)

 

   compensation received from the annual cash incentive awards in the benefits calculation is included

 

   a final three-year average of salary and annual cash incentive compensation is used to determine the benefits from the SERP

 

 

 
 

Benefits Table in the section entitled Compensation - Compensation of Named Executive Officers for the present value of the accumulated benefit for each Named Executive Officer.

Deferred Compensation Plan

The Unitil Corporation Deferred Compensation Plan (the “DC Plan”) is a non-qualified deferred compensation plan that provides a vehicle for participants to accumulate tax-deferred savings to supplement retirement income. The DC Plan is open to senior management or other highly compensated employees with a salary grade of 23 or higher who do not participate in the SERP. The DC Plan may also be

 

 

 

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used as a tool for recruitment and retention purposes for newly hired senior executives. The DC Plan design mirrors our Tax Deferred Savings and Investment Plan formula, but provides for contributions on compensation above the IRS limit, which allows participants to defer up to 85% of base salary, and up to 85% of any cash incentive, for retirement. The Board may also elect to make discretionary contributions on behalf of any participant in an amount determined by the Board. Mr. Hevert, Mr. Hurstak, Mr. Eisfeller and Mr. LeBlanc currently participate in the DC Plan.

Change of Control Agreements

We provide certain executives with protection from job loss due to a change of control in the Company in the form of Change of Control Agreements (“COC Agreements”). This protection is primarily provided so that the executives will make decisions and take actions that are in the best interest of shareholders and not unduly influenced by the fear of job loss.

All existing COC Agreements are two-year “double trigger” agreements, meaning that two events must occur in order for payments to be made: (i) a change of control must occur; and (ii) an adverse employment action must occur, meaning that we must terminate the executive’s employment other than for cause or disability or the executive must terminate his or her employment for good reason. Double trigger agreements were chosen to protect the shareholders from executives choosing to resign as result of a change of control where there is no adverse employment action. No existing COC Agreements contain any excise tax or other gross up provision of any kind. We believe that all COC Agreements comply with the provisions of IRS Code Section 409A. See also the section entitled Compensation—Compensation of Named Executive Officers – Potential Payments Upon Termination or Change of Control for a full description of “change of control” as defined in the COC Agreements.

Employment Agreement – Thomas P. Meissner, Jr.

We entered into an employment agreement (the “Employment Agreement”) with Mr. Meissner on April 25, 2021, for a term of three years, which is a renewal of his original employment agreement that expired on April 24, 2021. For a detailed description of the Employment Agreement, see the sections entitled Compensation—Compensation of Named Executive OfficersEmployment Agreement of the Chief Executive Officer and Compensation—Compensation of Named Executive OfficersPotential Payments Upon Termination or Change of Control.

Executive Perquisites

We limit the use of perquisites as a method of compensation. In 2023, Mr. Meissner received a monthly automobile allowance, and Mr. LeBlanc was provided with a Company-owned automobile for business and personal use. Please see the All Other Compensation column of the Summary Compensation Table in the section entitled Compensation—Compensation of Named Executive Officers. The perquisite provided to Mr. Meissner is pursuant to his employment agreement, and with the exception of Mr. LeBlanc as described above, no perquisites are provided to any other Named Executive Officer.

 

 

 

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INTERNAL REVENUE CODE SECTION 162(M) 

 

In general, under Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), we cannot deduct, for federal income tax purposes, compensation in excess of $1,000,000 paid to the CEO, CFO and certain executive officers. However, for prior to the 2018 tax year, this deduction limitation did not apply to compensation that constituted “qualified performance-based compensation” within the meaning of Section 162(m) of the Code and applicable regulations, as then in effect. In 2018, the “qualified performance- based compensation” exception under Section 162(m) of the Code was eliminated, other than with respect to compensation payable pursuant to a written binding contract that was in effect on November 2, 2017, and is not materially modified after that date. For the 2023 tax year, the deduction limitation applied to all Named Executive Officers. The Committee reserves its right to authorize executive compensation that may or may not be subject to the deduction limitations of Section 162(m) of the Code when it believes that such compensation is appropriate and in the best interests of our Company and our shareholders.

 

OTHER EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

 

Active Employee Benefits

 

Our employees are the backbone of our Company, and finding and retaining quality, highly motivated employees is critical to sustaining our exceptional culture as well as to our overall success. Our employees reflect a long-standing dedication to inspired teamwork, constant collaboration, and the insistence on the highest possible standards for ethical business practices. To continue to attract and retain the best people, we provide a comprehensive package of employee benefits to substantially all active employees.

 

Retired Employee Benefits

 

We provide company-paid life insurance, as well as company-subsidized medical insurance, to qualifying retirees. For non-union employees hired before December 31, 2009, and retiring on or after January 1, 2010, we subsidize post-retirement medical premiums at the same percentage as active employees. For employees hired after December 31, 2009, this subsidy ends

   

 

Active Employee Benefits

 

  Healthcare Insurance Plans

 

  Dental Insurance Plan

 

  Vision Insurance Plan

 

  Group Life and Supplemental Life, and Accident and Supplemental Accident Insurance Plans

 

  Sick Pay and Short-Term Disability Pay

 

  Long-Term Disability Insurance

 

  Defined Benefit Pension Plan

 

  401(k) Retirement Savings Plan

 

  Flexible Spending Accounts: Flexible Spending Account and Healthcare Savings Account

 

  Paid Family Leave

 

  Retirement Planning Services

 

  Wellness Program

 

  Payroll Deduction Stock Purchase Plan

 

  Education Assistance

 

  Employee Assistance Counseling Program

 

  Paid Time Community Service Benefit

when the retiree reaches age 65. Post-retirement benefits for employees represented by unions are administered in accordance with the applicable collective bargaining agreement.

 

 

 

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COMPENSATION COMMITTEE REPORT

This report is submitted by the Compensation Committee of Unitil with respect to the review and approval of the Compensation Discussion and Analysis, which appears above.

In discharging its oversight responsibility, the Compensation Committee has reviewed and discussed the Compensation Discussion and Analysis required by Item 402(b) of Regulation S-K with management, and has recommended to the Board that the Compensation Discussion and Analysis be included in this proxy statement for the Annual Meeting.

Compensation Committee Members

 

Neveen F. Awad, Winfield S. Brown (chair), Suzanne Foster and David A. Whiteley

 

 

 

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COMPENSATION OF NAMED EXECUTIVE OFFICERS

Summary Compensation Table

 

The table below shows the information specified in paragraph (c)(2) of Item 402 of Regulation S-K concerning the compensation of the CEO, the CFO, and our three other most highly compensated officers for each of fiscal years 2021, 2022, and 2023.

 

 

SUMMARY COMPENSATION TABLE

 

 Name and Principal
 Position
(1)
  Year   Salary   Bonus  

Stock

Awards (2)

 

Option

Awards

 

Non-Equity

Incentive

Plan
Comp
 (3)

 

Change in

Pension Value &

Non-Qualified

Deferred

Comp

Earnings (4)

 

All Other

Comp

  Total
(a)   (b)   (c)   (d)   (e)   (f)   (g)   (h)   (i)   (j)

 

 Thomas P. Meissner, Jr.

  2023     $ 678,119           $ 706,961           $ 515,709     $ 567,527     $ 157,574  (5)      $ 2,625,890

 Chairman of the Board & Chief

  2022     $ 645,214                       $ 521,564           $ 321,477     $ 1,488,255

 Executive Officer

  2021     $ 620,398           $ 629,760           $ 466,162     $ 566,750     $ 143,621     $ 2,426,750

 

 Robert B. Hevert

  2023     $ 431,510           $ 209,393           $ 252,433     $ 63,139     $ 131,941  (6)      $ 1,088,405

 President & Chief

  2022     $ 375,529                       $ 209,545           $ 116,857     $ 701,931
 Administrative Officer   2021     $ 361,000           $ 144,140           $ 188,442           $ 52,947     $ 746,529

 

 Daniel J. Hurstak (7)

  2023     $ 294,353           $ 100,550           $ 154,977     $ 38,297     $ 73,159  (8)      $ 661,326

 Senior Vice President, Chief

  2022                                                

 Financial Officer & Treasurer

  2021                                                

 

 Justin Eisfeller

  2023     $ 271,951           $ 100,550           $ 111,364     $ 159,277     $ 67,394  (9)      $ 710,536

 Vice President & Chief

  2022     $ 257,451                       $ 111,734             $ 116,931     $ 486,116

 Technology Officer

  2021     $ 248,450           $ 80,482           $ 99,270       $65,720       $ 56,066     $ 549,988

 

 Christopher J. LeBlanc

  2023     $ 266,225           $ 100,550           $ 109,019     $ 159,305     $ 74,707  (10)      $ 709,806

 Vice President, Gas Operations

  2022     $ 250,325                       $ 108,641           $ 83,762     $ 442,728
    2021     $ 237,625           $ 80,482           $ 96,476     $ 50,048     $ 118,117     $ 582,748

 

 Todd R. Black (11)

  2023     $ 108,793           $ 100,550           $ 44,551     $ 810,499     $ 129,370  (12)      $ 1,193,763

 Senior Vice President, External

  2022     $ 318,878                       $ 138,393           $ 38,366     $ 495,637

 Affairs & Customer Relations

  2021     $ 310,378           $ 80,482           $ 126,014           $ 25,248     $ 542,122

 

 

NOTES:

 

  (1)

Officers also hold various positions with subsidiary companies. Compensation for those positions is included in the above table.

 

  (2)

Values shown in column (e) represent the grant date fair value, calculated in accordance with FASB ASC Topic 718 based on the closing price of Unitil common stock on the date of grant. Awards of restricted stock were granted under the Second Amended Stock Plan on January 25, 2022 at a price of $45.47 for results attained during 2021, and on January 24, 2023, at a price of $51.53. There was no stock award granted for 2022 performance. In 2022, we transitioned the equity compensation awards to a combination of time-vested shares and performance-vested shares. For additional information on the transition of our equity compensation awards under the Second Amended Stock Plan in 2022, see the section entitled Elements of Compensation - New Long-Term Equity Incentive Compensation Program of this proxy statement.

 

  (3)

The terms of the Management Incentive Plan provide a cash incentive opportunity if we meet certain pre-established performance targets (see the section entitled Compensation- Compensation Discussion and Analysis). The amounts shown for each Named Executive Officer reflect the cash incentive awarded on January 25, 2022 for 2021 results, January 24, 2023 for 2022 results, and January 30, 2024 for 2023 results. See also the Grants of Plan-Based Awards Table in the section entitled Compensation - Compensation of Named Executive Officers.

 

 

 

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  (4)

The amounts shown reflect the change in pension value (for Mr. Meissner, Mr. Black, Mr. Eisfeller and Mr. LeBlanc) plus the change in the SERP value (for Mr. Meissner and Mr. Black) plus earnings under the Deferred Compensation Plan (for Mr. Hevert, Mr. Hurstak, Mr. Eisfeller, and Mr. LeBlanc in 2023; and for Mr. Hevert, Mr. Eisfeller and Mr. LeBlanc in 2021). Mr. Hevert and Mr. Hurstak do not participate in the Retirement Plan or the SERP.

 

  (5)

All Other Compensation for Mr. Meissner for the year 2023 includes an annual vehicle allowance, Unitil’s contributions to 401(k) and HSA accounts, non-preferential dividends earned in 2023 on the 13,640 shares of restricted stock awarded in 2023, which is valued at $22,097, and the tax adjustment on the 6,820 Time Restricted Shares that vested for tax purposes in 2023 in accordance with the provisions of the Second Amended Stock Plan, which is valued at $113,777. Under the terms of the Second Amended Stock Plan, all unvested Time Restricted Shares become fully vested upon retirement. According to IRS regulations, shares of certain types of restricted stock become taxable as current income when they become non-forfeitable. Mr. Meissner reached retirement eligibility age in 2017, and under the provisions of the Unitil Corporation Retirement Plan his unvested Time Restricted shares would vest if he elected retirement. The IRS therefore requires us to treat all of Mr. Meissner’s unvested Time Restricted Shares as taxable income. Taxes were paid on this additional taxable income in accordance with the tax adjustment provision of the Second Amended Stock Plan. This tax adjustment is further described in the section entitled Compensation – Compensation of Named Executive Officers – Equity Compensation Information.

 

  (6)

All Other Compensation for Mr. Hevert for the year 2023 includes Unitil’s contribution to his 401(k) account, which is valued at $17,400, the contribution to his DC Plan account, which is valued at $64,105, the non-preferential dividends earned in 2023 on the 4,040 shares of restricted stock awarded in 2023, the tax adjustment on the 2,036 Time Restricted Shares that vested in 2023 in accordance with the provisions of the Second Amended Stock Plan, which is valued at $43,891.

 

  (7)

Mr. Hurstak became a Named Executive Officer in May 2023, and was not a Named Executive Officer in fiscal years 2021 or 2022. His compensation information for 2021 and 2022 is excluded in accordance with Question 119.01 of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance’s Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations.

 

  (8)

All Other Compensation for Mr. Hurstak for the year 2023 includes Unitil’s contribution to his 401(k) account, which is valued at $17,400, the contribution to his DC Plan account, which is valued at $40,144, the contribution to his HSA account, non-preferential dividends earned in 2023 on the 1,940 shares of restricted stock awarded in 2023, and the tax adjustment on the 718 Time Restricted Shares that vested in 2023 in accordance with the provisions of the Second Amended Stock Plan, which is valued at $11,972.

 

  (9)

All Other Compensation for Mr. Eisfeller for the year 2023 includes Unitil’s contributions to his 401(k) and HSA accounts, the contribution to his DC Plan account, which is valued at $38,368, non-preferential dividends earned in 2023 on the 1,940 shares of restricted stock awarded in 2023, and the tax adjustment on the 970 Time Restricted Shares that vested in 2023 in accordance with the provisions of the Second Amended Stock Plan, which is valued at $16,182. Under the terms of the Second Amended Stock Plan, all unvested Time Restricted Shares become fully vested upon retirement. According to IRS regulations, shares of certain types of restricted stock become taxable as current income when they become non-forfeitable. Mr. Eisfeller reached retirement eligibility age in 2022, and under the provisions of the Unitil Corporation Retirement Plan his Time Restricted Shares would vest if he elected retirement. The IRS therefore requires us to treat all of Mr. Eisfeller’s unvested Time Restricted Shares as taxable income. Taxes were paid on this additional taxable income in accordance with the tax adjustment provision of the Second Amended Stock Plan. This tax adjustment is further described in the section entitled Compensation – Compensation of Named Executive Officers – Equity Compensation Plan Information.

 

  (10)

All Other Compensation for Mr. LeBlanc for the year 2023 includes the use of a Company-owned vehicle, Unitil’s contributions to his 401(k) and HSA accounts, the contribution to his DC Plan account, which is valued at $37,487, non-preferential dividends earned in 2023 on the 1,940 shares of restricted stock awarded in 2023, and the tax adjustment on the 970 Time Restricted Shares that vested in 2023 in accordance with the provisions of the Second Amended Stock Plan, which is valued at $20,886. Under the terms of the Second Amended Stock Plan, all unvested Time Restricted Shares become fully vested upon retirement. According to IRS regulations, shares of certain types of restricted stock become taxable as current income when they become non-forfeitable. Mr. LeBlanc reached

 

 

 

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  retirement eligibility age in 2021, and under the provisions of the Unitil Corporation Retirement Plan his Time Restricted Shares would vest if he elected retirement. The IRS therefore requires us to treat all of Mr. LeBlanc’s Time Restricted Shares as taxable income. Taxes were paid on this additional taxable income in accordance with the tax adjustment provision of the Second Amended Stock Plan. This tax adjustment is further described in the section entitled Compensation – Compensation of Named Executive Officers – Equity Compensation Information.

 

  (11)

Mr. Black retired from the Company on May 1, 2023. Salary and Non-Equity Compensation shown are proportional to his employment from January 1 – April 30, 2023. The Stock Award shown was granted on January 24, 2023, prior to Mr. Black’s retirement.

 

  (12)

All Other Compensation for Mr. Black for the year 2023 includes Unitil’s contribution to his 401(k) and HSA accounts, payments from the Company’s Retirement Plan and SERP valued at $73,276 and $28,353, respectively, non-preferential dividends earned in 2023 on the 1,940 shares of restricted stock awarded in 2023, and the tax adjustment on the 970 Time Restricted Shares that vested for tax purposes in 2023 in accordance with the provisions of the Second Amended Stock Plan, which is valued at $16,182. Under the terms of the Second Amended Stock Plan, all unvested Time Restricted Shares become fully vested upon retirement. According to IRS regulations, shares of certain types of restricted stock become taxable as current income when they become non-forfeitable. Mr. Black reached retirement eligibility age in 2019, and under the provisions of the Unitil Corporation Retirement Plan his Time Restricted Stock would vest if he elected retirement. The IRS therefore requires us to treat all of Mr. Black’s Time Restricted Shares as taxable income. Taxes were paid on this additional taxable income in accordance with the tax adjustment provision of the Second Amended Stock Plan. This tax adjustment is further described in the section entitled Compensation – Compensation of Named Executive Officers – Equity Compensation Plan Information.

 

 

 

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Pay Versus Performance
 
The table below shows the information specified in Item 402(v) of Regulation
S-K
concerning the compensation of the CEO and the average compensation of the other Named Executive Officers of the Company compared to financial performance for each of fiscal years 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.
 
 
 
PAY VERSUS PERFORMANCE
 
 
Year
 
Summary
Compensation
Table Total
for CEO
(1)
 
Compensation
Actually Paid
to CEO
(2)
 
Average
Summary
Compensation
Table Total for
 Non-CEO NEOs 
(3)
  
 
Average
Compensation
Actually Paid to
 Non-CEO NEOs 
(2)(3)
  
 
 Value of Initial Fixed $100 
Investment Based On:
 
 Net Income  
(in millions)
 
Earnings Per
Share (“EPS”)
 
 
Total
Shareholder
Return
(“TSR”) 
(4)
 
Peer Group
Total
Shareholder
Return
(4)
         
(a)
 
(b)
 
(c)
 
(d)
 
(e)
 
(f)
 
(g)
 
(h)
 
(i)
 
         
2023   
   $2,625,890    $2,342,445   $856,767   $651,099    $96.57    $111.59   $45.2     $2.82    
         
2022
  $1,488,255   $1,658,803   $531,450   $556,598   $91.49   $120.09   $41.4     $2.59    
         
2021
  $2,426,750   $2,224,626   $578,575   $565,779   $79.47   $118.24   $36.1     $2.35    
         
2020
  $3,977,630   $1,416,063   $627,418   $425,236   $74.06   $100.48   $32.2     $2.15
(5)
 
 
 
NOTES:
 
   (1)
Mr. Meissner was the CEO for each of 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.
 
   (2)
SEC rules require certain adjustments must be made to the Summary Compensation Table totals to determine “compensation actually paid” as reported in the Pay versus Performance Table. Compensation actually paid (“CAP”) does not necessarily represent cash and/or equity value transferred to the applicable Named Executive Officer without restriction, but rather is a value calculated under applicable SEC rules. In general, CAP is calculated as Summary Compensation Table total compensation adjusted to include the fair market value of equity awards as of December 31 of the applicable year or, if earlier, the vesting date (rather than the grant date), as well as an adjustment subtracting the change in pension value as of December 31 and adding the actuarially determined service cost for services rendered by the Named Executive Officer, if applicable, during the covered fiscal year. The following table details these adjustments:
 
 
 
COMPENSATION ACTUALLY PAID
 
 Year
 
Executive(s)
 
Summary
 Compensation Table: 
Base Salary
 
 Adjusted Equity 
Awards
 
Summary
Compensation
 Table: Non-Equity 
Compensation
 
Change in
 Pension Value or 
Service Cost
(6)
 
Summary
 Compensation Table: 
All Other
Compensation
 
Total
Compensation
Actually Paid
       
(a)
 
(b)
 
(c)
 
(d)
 
(e)
 
(f)
 
(g)
 
(h)
2023 
  CEO   $678,119       $739,078         $515,709         $251,965         $157,574         $2,342,445  
2023
 
Non-CEO NEOs 
  $274,566       $119,704         $134,469         $ 27,046         $ 95,314         $  651,099  
2022
  CEO   $645,214       $170,548         $521,564         —          $321,477         $1,658,803  
2022
 
Non-CEO NEOs
  $300,546       $ 24,995         $142,078         —          $ 88,979         $  556,598  
2021
  CEO   $620,398       $652,071         $466,162         $342,315         $143,680         $2,224,626  
2021
 
Non-CEO NEOs
  $261,300       $ 88,533         $117,920         $ 26,413         $ 71,614         $  565,779  
2020
  CEO   $597,740       ($51,818)         $314,710         $273,810         $281,621         $1,416,063  
2020
 
Non-CEO NEOs
  $209,913       $ 10,915         $ 61,865         $ 29,926         $112,617         $  425,236  
 
 
 
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NOTES, continued:
 
   (3)
In 2023, the other Named Executive Officers were Mr. Hevert, Mr. Hurstak, Mr. Eisfeller, Mr. LeBlanc, and Mr. Black. Mr. Black retired from the Company on May 1, 2023. I
n 2022, the other Named Executive Officers were Mr. Hevert, Mr. Black, Mr. Eisfeller and Mr. LeBlanc.
In 2021, the other Named Executive Officers were Mr. Hevert, Mr. Black, Mr. Eisfeller, Mr. LeBlanc, and Laurence M. Brock. Mr. Brock retired from the Company in July 2021. In 2020, the other Named Executive Officers were Mr. Hevert, Mr. Black, Mr. LeBlanc, Mr. Brock, and Christine Vaughan. Ms. Vaughan resigned from the Company in March 2020.
 
   (4)
TSR is determined based on the value of an initial fixed investment of $100 at December 31, 2019. The TSR peer group consists of the S&P 500 Utilities Index. Source of data: S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC.
 
   (5)
Actual EPS in 2020 was $2.15. The Compensation Committee made a discretionary $0.09 adjustment for compensation decisions for 2020 to account for management’s performance in light of the financial impact of the
COVID-19
pandemic.
 
   (6)
All values shown reflect the pension service cost in the applicable year.
Relationship of Compensation Actually Paid to Performance Measures
The Compensation Committee and the Board believe the table above shows general alignment between compensation actually paid (“CAP”) to Named Executive Officers and our Company’s performance and is consistent with the compensation philosophy as described in the
Compensation Discussion and Analysis
section of this proxy statement. The Committee and the Board believe that TSR is not a meaningful incentive performance measure upon which to base compensation decisions for a small cap regulated transmission and distribution utility company because it is not a measure that is fully controllable and therefore not reflective of management’s efforts with regard to the quality of financial performance. The Committee instead believes EPS is the most meaningful financial performance measure upon which to base compensation decisions, but that EPS also needs to be balanced with a mix of additional financial measures, and operations-related financial and
non-financial
measures to reflect the overall performance of our Company.
In 2023, the Committee approved a new long-term equity compensation plan (the “LTIP”), and selected two financial measures, weighted equally at 50% each, to apply to Performance Restricted Shares. The Performance Restricted Shares will vest after a performance period of three years, in an amount based on the attainment of certain performance thresholds of certain defined performance metrics, each as set by the Compensation Committee at the beginning of the performance period. Further, the disparity between Summary Compensation Table totals and Compensation Actually Paid to the CEO and
non-CEO
NEOs in 2022 is reflective of no award of equity compensation 2022. The Committee elected to treat 2022 as a transition year in anticipation of the LTIP, as noted above, becoming effective on January 1, 2023.
See the section entitled New Long-term Incentive Compensation Program of this proxy statement for additional information on the LTIP.
 
 
 
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The performance measures identified as the most important for Named Executive Officers’ cash and equity incentive compensation decisions for 2020 through 2023 are shown in the table below.
 
 
Most Important Performance Measures
 
 
Cash and Equity: 2020-2021
 
 
Financial     
  Earnings Per Share     40
   
O&M Cost Per Customer
 
    30
Safety & Reliability
  Electric System Reliability     10
   
Gas Emergency Response Time
 
    10
Customer Engagement
 
 
Customer Satisfaction
 
    10
Cash: 2022-2023
 
 
Financial
     
  Earnings Per Share     40
   
O&M Cost Per Customer
 
    30
Safety & Reliability
  Electric System Reliability     10
   
Gas Emergency Response Time
 
    10
Customer Engagement
 
 
Customer Satisfaction
 
    10
Equity: 2023
 
 
Financial
     
 
Three-Year Average Return on
Equity
    50
   
Three-Year Average Growth in Book Value Per Share
 
    50
In 2021, 2022 and 2023, EPS exceeded the target, and CAP was well-aligned with EPS in those years. CAP was also well-aligned with Net Income in all years. 2020 was a less successful year and incentive compensation was greatly reduced to reflect less than optimal performance, albeit in an uncertain and unusual first year of the
COVID-19
pandemic. The Committee and the Board also acknowledge that 2020 and 2021 were not traditional years, financial or otherwise, due to the pandemic, and fair evaluation of performance during this period was challenging.
2023 Performance Measures
 
The Compensation Committee believes in a holistic
approach to evaluation of the Named Executive
Officers’ Compensation. The Committee considers a
mix of financial, operations, and customer-centric
metrics, as well as the obligation to meet the various
state public utility regulatory requirements to
include a certain percentage of operations and customer-focused metrics when setting the short-term performance measures for the year. The Committee elected to limit the long-term performance measures exclusively to financial measures as such measures set appropriate stretch goals in a long-term scenario and are more difficult to achieve. The 2023 cash incentive performance measures and results are described in greater detail in the section entitled
2023 Performance Metrics, Goals and Results
of this proxy statement. The equity performance measures are described in greater detail in the section entitled
Incentive Compensation
-
New Long-Term Equity Incentive Compensation Program
of this proxy statement.
 
 
 
 
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Grants of Plan-Based Awards

 

The table below provides information with respect to the grants of plan-based awards, which includes Management Incentive Plan awards made to the Named Executive Officers for fiscal year 2023.

 

GRANTS OF PLAN-BASED AWARDS: FISCAL YEAR 2023

   

Estimated Future Payouts ($)

Under Non-Equity

Incentive Plan Awards (1)

Estimated Future Payouts (# Shares)

Under Equity Incentive Plan

Awards (2)

All Other
Stock
Awards:
Number of
Shares of
Stock or Units

Grant
Date Fair
Value of

Stock and
Option
Awards

  Name Grant
Date
Threshold Target Max Threshold Target Max
(a) (b) (c) (d) (e)