SAN FRANCISCO–The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in its ongoing commitment to diversity, released its annual Utility Supplier Diversity Report to the Legislature, outlining the progress of participating utilities and telecommunications companies, which spent $12.7 billion with diverse suppliers in 2019.
In 2019, utilities and telecommunications companies participating in the CPUC’s Utility Supplier Diversity Program, in aggregate, achieved a new diverse procurement milestone of $12.7 billion from woman (WBE), minority (MBE), disable veteran (DVBE), lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBTBE) business enterprises, collectively called diverse businesses. This amount represents 33.2 percent of the utilities’ and telecommunications companies’ total procurement dollars, surpassing the 21.5 percent overall aspirational goal provided in the CPUC’s General Order (GO) 156 on diverse procurement.
In 2019, the utilities and telecommunications companies also exceeded the GO 156 MBE, WBE, and DVBE voluntary goals by procuring 22.2 percent, 9.2 percent, and 1.6 percent, respectively.
“During these unprecedented times when businesses are grappling with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Supplier Diversity Program is especially relevant. The program provides resources and support to help weather the pandemic’s economic challenges, as diverse businesses are more susceptible to financial distress and disruption,” said CPUC President Marybel Batjer.
GO 156 sets the framework for the CPUC Utility Supplier Diversity Program and encourages each utility and telecommunications company to purchase, at a minimum, 15 percent from MBEs, 5 percent from WBEs, and 1.5 percent from DVBEs, for a total of 21.5 percent.
In 2015 when LGBTBEs were added to the Program, the CPUC adopted a five-year plan and framework for utilities to gather data for the CPUC to thereafter consider setting target goals for LGBTBE-procurement. Despite the challenges utilities and telecommunications companies report regarding the inclusion of LGBTBEs into their supply chain, the utilities in 2019 reported a 64 percent increase in LGBTBE procurement from $38.77 million in 2018 to $63.59 million.
“I am pleased to see that the utilities continued their commitments to our Supplier Diversity Program,” said Commissioner Liane Randolph. “For more than 30 years, the utilities have sustained an upward trajectory in supplier diversity by continuously evaluating and evolving their programs. Diverse business inclusion is a good business strategy for utilities that adds value, promotes innovation, and enhances versatility. At the same time, it creates job opportunities and supports communities, contributing to the vibrancy of California’s economy. The success of this program is the legacy of the incomparable Assemblymember Gwen Moore, who we recently lost. Her vision and legislative skill created this program and she grew and nurtured it for the program’s entire history. We will miss her leadership immensely and pledge to not let our commitment to supplier diversity wane even though she will not be sitting on the dais with us at our next Supplier Diversity En Banc.”
Of the almost 30 utilities and telecommunications companies that participate in the CPUC Utility Supplier Diversity Program, the following had the highest percentages of total procurement with diverse businesses in 2019: Southwest Gas: $44 million, or 70.2 percent, Suburban Water Systems: $14 million, or 49.9 percent, Southern California Gas Company: $726 million, or 41.8 percent, Pacific Gas and Electric Company: $3.4 billion, or 41.2 percent, San Diego Gas & Electric: $636 million, or 40.9 percent, Southern California Edison: $2.2 billion, or 40.1 percent, Verizon: $1.8 billion, or 39.3 percent, and California American Water: $33 million, or 35.7 percent.
“Now more than ever, as the Nation attempts to reconcile our centuries of racial injustice, we must use every tool at our disposal to right this wrong. Due to the amazing leadership of Gwen Moore, and many others, the CPUC has General Order 156 to ensure that utilities, community choice aggregators, telecommunication providers, and electric service providers, have a robust diversity procurement program. Constant attention must be given to these strategies and partnerships to ensure we have continued growth and share more wealth for all Californians,” said Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves.
“With the addition to the Utility Supplier Diversity Program of Community Choice Aggregators, energy service providers, distributed energy resource contractors, and energy storage system companies through Senate Bill 255 (Bradford, 2019), more opportunities will now be available for small and diverse businesses,” said Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen. “I look forward to seeing even greater results in the coming years as more companies are added into the program.”
The 2019 Utility Supplier Diversity report to the Legislature and the participating utilities’ and telecommunications companies’ supplier diversity progress will be discussed at the upcoming CPUC Annual Supplier Diversity En Banc, which will be held virtually on Sept. 29.
“I look forward to hearing about the progress and challenges of the Utility Supplier Diversity Program at our September 29th En Banc,” said Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma. “I hope members of the public will join us to learn more about this important program from utilities and those impacted by or involved in the program. Diversity and inclusion and economic stability are the building blocks of a successful 21st Century society. This was Assemblymember Gwen Moore’s vision with her landmark legislation establishing the program, and we have much more to do.”
The CPUC’s annual Utility Supplier Diversity Reports to the Legislature and the annual utilities and telecommunications company’s supplier diversity reports to CPUC are available at www.cpuc.ca.gov/supplierdiversity.