Maryland utilities make commitment to business diversity

Andrew Cannarsa

Representatives from Maryland public utility companies like Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., Pepco and Verizon in Annapolis on Friday signed a new, unified memorandum of understanding committed to improving supplier diversity initiatives statewide.

The MOU requires signatories to aim to contract 25 percent of their total procurement with minority, women and service-disabled veterans, along with handicapped/sheltered workshops.

“The commission thought it was really important to reaffirm and expand our collective commitment to supplier diversity,” PSC Chairman Doug Nazarian said. “This new agreement represents the tremendous cooperation and progress toward those important goals.”

BGE president Kenneth DeFontes was one of several representatives from Maryland utilities to sign the memorandum, agreeing to continue efforts to do business with minority suppliers.

“This agreement reaffirms BGE’s commitment to supplier diversity and included input from all interested parties including suppliers, utilities and the commission,” said BGE spokeswoman Linda Foy. “BGE was a very active participant in that process and is satisfied by the outcome. The goal of awarding 25 percent of our total procurement to diverse suppliers is one that we intend to work toward.”

BGE’s Supplier Diversity Program has focused on opportunities for minority suppliers that provide a wide array of utility products and services, Foy said. There are more than 65 categories where vendors — and specifically diverse vendors — can be used to provide the goods and services needed to run the company.

Joseph Rigby, president and chief operating officer of Pepco Holdings, signed the document on behalf of Pepco.

“I am pleased that PHI has been a strategic partner in the development of this voluntary Memorandum of Understanding,’’ Rigby said in a statement. “I appreciate the opportunity to reaffirm both Pepco and Delmarva Power’s long-term commitment to advancing contracting opportunities for diverse businesses by signing this important document.”

William Roberts, Verizon’s regional president for Maryland and Washington, D.C., said diversity is as much about good business practice as it is “the right thing to do.”

“Verizon serves some of the country’s most diverse markets, so diversity always has been part of our culture and an integral part of our business strategy,” Roberts said. “Whether it’s a wireless service, the latest in broadband technology or FiOS entertainment, Verizon depends on the unique talents and experiences of all our employees and suppliers to best meet our many customers’ needs.”

Roberts said Verizon formally stated its commitment in a voluntary memorandum of understanding with the PSC more than 15 years ago, and no other Maryland telecommunications company had made the same commitment.

“In addition, Verizon has actively and voluntarily participated in the commission’s working group over the past five months to develop cooperatively a new memorandum to replace our existing one,” Roberts said.

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