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Fortis President and CEO Barry Perry is pictured at Fortis Inc.'s headquarters, in St. John's, N.L., on Oct. 13, 2016.

Sue Bailey/The Canadian Press

Fortis Inc. announced on Wednesday that Barry Perry, the Canadian utility’s chief executive officer, will step down from the position at the end of the year. He will be succeeded by David Hutchens, the current chief operating officer and CEO of UNS Energy Corp., a Fortis subsidiary.

“I’m humbled to have spent the past two decades of my career with Fortis. It’s been an incredible journey to lead the company during a time of such transformational growth,” Mr. Perry said in a statement.

Under Mr. Perry’s leadership since 2015, St. John’s-based Fortis expanded its exposure to investors beyond the Toronto Stock Exchange by listing the shares on the New York Stock Exchange, and his leadership has coincided with the company’s ambitious growth in North America and a continuing commitment to a steadily rising dividend.

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Mr. Perry expanded the utility’s footprint in the United States, particularly with the US$11.3-billion takeover of ITC Holdings Inc., which is based in Michigan, in 2016.

On Wednesday, Fortis extended its targeted average annual dividend growth of 6 per cent to 2025. Its fourth-quarter distribution of 50.5 cents a share represents a gain of 5.8 per cent from the previous payout and continues a 47-year history of annual dividend increases.

Fortis also updated its five-year capital investment plan, comprising a total of $19.6-billion in spending over the period from 2021 through 2025 – up $800-million from last year’s plan – which includes investing in cost-effective renewable energy.

Longer term, Fortis believes that a greater shift toward renewable energy will help reduce the utility’s carbon emissions by 75 per cent by 2035, compared with 2019.

For example, Tucson Electric Power, a unit of Fortis’s Arizona-based UNS Energy Corp., plans to end coal generation and add about 2,400 megawatts of wind and solar power systems and 1,400 megawatts of energy storage systems.

“Today we are committing to a sustainable future with our new emissions reduction target which will provide our customers and communities with cleaner energy,” Mr. Perry said in a statement. “By 2035, virtually all of the corporation’s business will be comprised of energy delivery and renewable, carbon-free generation.”

He added in a phone interview that the impetus for the shift toward renewable energy comes largely from customers, rather than pressure from large institutional investors – particularly pension plans – that have begun to factor environmental sustainability into their investment approaches.

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“Our customers want cleaner energy. There is no doubt that that is the case,” Mr. Perry said.

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