Creating opportunities for diverse suppliers is central to the way we do business. Our Supplier Diversity Program is designed to bring the added value of diversity to our procurement process by proactively seeking small, minority-, women- and service disabled veteran-owned enterprises.
View a message from our CEO and read the success stories of featured businesses from the 2018 Supplier Diversity Report.
Joe Dominguez, CEO, ComEd
At ComEd, diversity and inclusion are core values for our employees and those we work with, including our supplier community. Creating opportunities for diverse suppliers to grow and excel is one of the most important roles we play as we continue building a supply chain that reflects all the communities we serve. Since 2011, we have injected almost $14 billion of supply chain spend into the Illinois economy, including $4 billion in Illinois diverse supply chain investments.
Our 2018 Diverse Supplier report details the increasing participation and success of our diverse suppliers as they help us meet the evolving needs and interests of customers at a time of transformation in the electric power industry. Diverse spend in 2018 reached $718 million, four times the amount spent in 2011, and an all-time high of 39 percent of total investment. While this has been driven largely by the smart grid investment program that launched in 2012, and which is nearing completion, there are many other new workstreams that are contributing significantly to our investment with diverse suppliers.
In 2018, we added 135 companies to our roster of diverse firms and now work with more than 500 Tier 1 and Tier 2 diversity-certified suppliers. We are proud to highlight in this report three diverse supplier success stories. Dynamic Utility Solutions, LLC, supports us on several fronts, from wood pole installation to overhead construction on our distribution system and storm restoration. Milhouse Engineering & Construction, Inc., is playing a key role in the Voltage Optimization (VO) program, a high-tech energy efficiency solution supported by the Future Energy Jobs Act. And Resource Innovations LLC is helping us expand energy efficiency offerings, particularly in support of income-eligible customers.
Our diverse supplier community brings a broad range of skills and expertise, and a shared commitment to meeting expectations. Our partnership not only helps grow their business, but creates jobs in the community, and strengthens our ability to meet emerging challenges to better serve our customers and communities.
Resource Innovations LLC increasing access to energy efficiency...
Resource Innovations (RI) was established in Half Moon Bay, California, 30 miles south of San Francisco, but its fastest-growing office is in Chicago thanks to the work it’s doing to support ComEd’s expanding energy efficiency (EE) programs. The woman-owned, community-focused environmental consultancy is a Tier 1 supplier for a portion of ComEd’s EE offerings dedicated to Income Eligible customers.
Lauren Casentini, president and CEO, founded RI in 2016, building upon 25 years in the energy industry, including leadership roles at Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and extensive experience in EE program design, management and policy expertise. In February, she was presented with the 2019 Inspiring Efficiency Chairman’s Award at the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) conference in Chicago, where she has been spending lots of quality time.
She expects RI’s Chicago office to have 20 employees by the end of this year, up from 10 in 2018 and two in 2017. Her team’s recruiting is focused on candidates that reflect the diversity of the programs and communities they serve. For example, after participating last September in ComEd’s Bronzeville Microgrid Showcase and Job Fair it hired a woman from the neighborhood to support ComEd’s Income Qualified EE program.
“The Midwest may not have started the push towards energy efficiency but thanks to the Future Energy Jobs Act, this region is at the center of innovation and Illinois utility customers are the direct beneficiaries,” said Casentini. “We’re especially excited to partner with ComEd to help income eligible customers take full advantage of new money-saving opportunities and eliminate energy waste in the process.”
For 2019, RI has a ComEd Income Qualified program budget of approximately $10.5 million, including $9.6 million in incentives for customer projects. The work is focused on implementing the portion of ComEd’s Income Eligible program that is coordinated with local community action agencies (CAAs) and the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP). These groups provide family home and multi-family building retrofits such as attic insulation and air sealing, lighting upgrades, and other products that reduce energy consumption and costs.
Income Eligible Program objectives:
RI is passionate about bringing diverse groups to the table to ensure energy efficiency funding reaches all populations. This requires fostering partnership with local diverse businesses and community-based organizations, and it’s a role Casentini enjoys. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to be able to travel the country to make a positive impact on disadvantaged communities and the environment.”
Enacted by the Illinois General Assembly in December of 2016, FEJA increases funding to at least $350 million per year through 2030 for energy efficiency programming that is expected to generate more than $7 billion in customer savings and reduce carbon emissions by an amount equivalent to removing 9 million cars from the road for a year. At least $42 million per year is dedicated to income eligible energy efficiency programs through 2030 and another $35 million per year is designated to support public sector programs.
Safety first culture drives success at dynamic utility solutions...
Joann P. Bauer credits the growth of Dynamic Utility Solutions, LLC from seven to more than 75 employees in just over two years to a relentless focus on safety.
Prior to founding her company, a certified minority- and woman-owned business enterprise, Bauer served as Director of Transmission Execution and Support and Regional Director of Operations at PPL Electric Utilities in Pennsylvania, experiences that left a lasting impact on her attitudes toward occupational safety and life in general.
“I have seen the sad, life-changing outcomes of utility industry accidents on employees and on their families,” said Bauer . “That’s why we’re so committed to creating a safety culture and to reducing the high hazard levels in this industry.” Bauer, a California native, earned a bachelor’s. degree in Biological Sciences at the University of California, Davis; she earned an MBA at Pepperdine University.
Dynamic got its start with ComEd as a subcontractor in 2016 and the following year it became a Contractor of Choice. In 2018, Dynamic completed approximately $15 million in projects for ComEd in the Distribution Construction category. Key projects involved the Wood Pole Replacement program, Freeport Fiber construction, Grid Resilience, Storm Hardening, and Underground Cable Replacement. Company revenue on the ComEd system increased in 2018 by $10 million, reflecting Dynamic’s growing capabilities and ComEd’s efforts to mentor principals and introduce them to other contractors and suppliers.
Through the company’s first two years of operation, Bauer devoted a large portion of her time to assembling and educating her leadership team on occupational safety. Tapping into personal experiences, she and her team compiled, debated, and incorporated best practices into a new Safety Program, including a customized Safety Observation and Audit App. She also placed a high priority on training the management team to perform field observations. “Battling complacency is always a challenge, so having more eyes in the field provides more data for awareness and improvement toward best practices,” said Bauer. “My vision is to have a safety culture of ‘Brother’s Keeper’ in which we all look out for ourselves and each other. Like everyone in our industry, we would like to see the electric utility linemans’ job dropped from the list of the top 10 most dangerous jobs, and I think that can happen through a strong straining focus on human behaviors and hazard recognition.”
The company’s partnership with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers further reinforces the safety focus and plays a key role in helping Bauer and her team develop a high-caliber workforce, 95 percent of which comes from Locals 9 and 196. “Working with IBEW in conjunction with our apprenticeship programs ensures we bring on employees who understand the importance of safe behaviors and who have the training needed to build a career,” said Bauer. “Our people understand that safety is job one and I hope they also realize this emphasis shows we care about them as people, because we do.”
Dynamic’s workforce is 30 percent minority and women, and Bauer commends efforts being made in Illinois to expand the growing community of well-qualified diverse companies. “As a Hispanic woman in the electric utility industry, I can tell you it hasn’t been easy, especially without an engineering degree,” said Bauer, an avid runner of marathons and ultra-marathons. “But Illinois utilities are creating positive change and opportunities for talented diverse businesses that are willing and able to go the extra mile to deliver results, because that’s what it takes to succeed in this business.”
Founder of Milhouse Engineering seeks opportunities to make an impact...
Milhouse Engineering & Construction, a full-service engineering firm with a growing power industry practice, takes special pride in supporting ComEd’s Voltage Optimization (VO) program, because it enables customers to effortlessly reduce costs, energy consumption, and carbon emissions.
“ComEd’s VO installation program is a great fit for us,” said chairman and CEO Wilbur C. Milhouse III. “We have a team of 10 engineers and technicians supporting the installation of smart devices and controllers at ComEd distribution substations. This allows for automatic system response to ComEd’s Smart Meter network and enables optimum voltage delivery to customer end points. This greatly enhances grid efficiency, which directly benefits the customer.”
Established in 2001, the Milhouse firm has offices in nine states: Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Texas. In addition to growing the business, Milhouse seeks opportunities to make a positive impact on communities through engineering, and distance is not an obstacle. In 2016, he established a partnership with the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, Nigeria, where his company is helping the school utilize and sustain a reliable energy source to mitigate power outages.
Early in his career, Milhouse conducted research at the Illinois Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Construction Division before moving to the private sector with a focus on structural engineering and design. He earned an M.S. in Structural Engineering and a bachelor’s degree. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“I feel blessed to be doing exactly what I wanted to do from an early age,” said Milhouse. “I’m grateful for the exceptional team that we have at Milhouse and I credit our steady growth and broad range of services and solutions to our focus on diversity in all its forms. It drives innovation, creates a culture that brings people together, and motivates people in ways that enable us to make a difference in the lives of customers and the broader community. That’s what gets us up in the morning.”
2018 Supplier Diversity Report (pdf)
2017 Supplier Diversity Report (pdf)