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Maryland’s Utility Companies Spent More Than $800 Million with Minority Firms
Maryland’s Utility Companies Spent More Than $800 Million with Minority Firms

Maryland’s utility companies spent more than $800 million with women-, minority- and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses in 2017 – the highest diverse spend since the program began in 2009. At the Maryland Public Service Commission’s annual hearing on July 24, 2018, utilities, advocates and contractors discussed best practices, lessons learned and innovative ways to reach diversity goals. Participating companies, which include electric, natural gas, transportation and telecommunication providers spent nearly $3.3 billion on all goods and services in 2017. The 24.8% total diverse spend ratio—a key metric of the program--represented a 17% increase over the previous year and also set a record as the highest ever.

 

“Maryland ranks number one in the nation for minority and women business ownership—there’s no doubt we are moving in the right direction,” said Special Secretary Jimmy Rhee, head of the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority and Women Business Affairs, the entity charged with connecting small businesses with greater economic opportunity. Secretary Rhee noted that the 580,000 small businesses in Maryland—more than half of which are women and minority-owned--employ half of the state’s workforce. “Everything that we do in Maryland to improve the small business community is inherently good for minority and women-owned businesses as well.”

 

The Commission’s Public Conference 16 on Supplier Diversity (PC16) is aimed at providing diverse companies with greater opportunities to compete for contracts and subcontracts with public utilities, with a goal of awarding 25% of utilities’ total spend to diverse suppliers. 

 

Of the 15 companies which filed reports, six of them met or exceeded that goal in

2017 -- Association of Maryland Pilots (39.5%), Potomac Edison (34%), Baltimore Gas & Electric Company (29.7%), AT&T (26.8%), Comcast (26.7%), and Potomac Electric Power Company (25.7%).

 

Wayne Frazier, president of the Maryland Washington Minority Companies Association, Inc., attending his ninth straight hearing, congratulated the companies that exceeded the 25% goal and had words of encouragement for those companies that did not meet the goal but actively participate in the program, noting “their tireless work in search of new talent and firms” demonstrated by contact with his organization. Mr. Frazier commended the Commission’s efforts to encourage supplier diversity remarking that the utilities’ record combined spending levels with diverse firms “are the fruits of that labor.”

 

Commissioner Emeritus Harold Williams, who left the Commission last year, attended the hearing and was praised by Commissioner Obi Linton as a mentor and inspiration even in retirement. Commissioner Williams had been a champion of supplier diversity for many years.

 

The Commission opened dialogue on questions related to expansion of the program, specifically how to get more companies to participate, whether to include categories for LGBTQ-owned and veteran-owned suppliers, and whether to count dollars spent with subcontractors, in addition to prime contractors. The Commissioners also expressed support for collaborative efforts including the Utility Forum and the Eastern Shore Energy Alliance—a network of smaller, more rural, municipal and cooperative utilities such as Choptank Electric Cooperative, Easton Utilities and the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative. 

 

More information on PC 16 and supplier diversity is available on the Commission’s website, www.psc.state.md.us, under the Supplier Diversity link on the homepage.

 

"This was my first time attending the annual hearing and I was extremely impressed with the compassion and sympathetic approach each commissioner displayed as they represented the state's commitment to supplier diversity. In addition I was equally impressed with the regulated utilities in Maryland. The leadership of the utilities that were represented at the hearings have demonstrated and continue to demonstrate their commitment to expanding opportunities for diversity in their supply chain. Each representative of the utilities appeared sincere about their diversity commitments as though they understood the economic benefits to the local communities and the state as a whole. I look forward to the Maryland Public Utility Commission and the Maryland regulated utilities to continue to be champions of opportunities for all Marylanders and watching our communities and state prosper because of their commitment,"said Troy Holland CEO of HIC Energy, Regional Vice President of Maryland for the Minority Business Enterprise Input Committee, Legislative Chair for the Minority Business Enterprise Input Committee. Visit website www.HICEnergy.com.

 

Christine Meyer, CEO/President of Battaglia Associates, Inc., a woman owned diverse supplier had this to say, “The recent Public Service Commission (PSC) hearing was the first one I attended, and I left thoroughly impressed by the dedication and sincerity of the commissioners for economic inclusion. Maryland is blessed to have such a committed program and I feel many diverse suppliers’ boats will rise with this strong tide! Visit website www.battagassoc.com.

 

“Small to mid-size heavy civil utility companies such as Stella May Contracting are faced with workforce challenges (Attracting adequate labor resources) as cities and states look to modernize aging infrastructures. Companies like BGE, under the Leadership of Calvin Butler and Frank Kelly request diverse companies engage the diverse communities where they serve along with resources from these communities supporting the increased critical infrastructure demands placed on the large utility companies such as BGE, Washington Gas, Columbia Gas, and SMECO. Tracking these labor metrics are an important consideration the Public Services Commission may use to demonstrate the success of their diversity initiatives and demonstrate innovative diversity growth," said Harley Flack, President/CEO, Stella May Contracting Inc. Visit website www.stellamay.com.

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