Opportunities in the Utility Sector

D. Olandan Davenport | 12/19/2012, 3:11 p.m.

An initiative currently underway by UMA is a project with the National Utilities Diversity Council (NUDC). "We are developing a supplier diversity toolkit," said Laurie Dowling, interim executive director of NUDC in Los Angeles, Calif. The toolkit will include comprehensive information designed to help utility companies and commissioners get WMDvBEs more business in the multi-billion dollar utility sector. The document is expected to be completed by February 2013.

How quickly any infrastructure modernization will roll out is the subject of much debate. Two major factors that will determine the time frames for development are the requirements of the new federal regulations on utility companies that deal with environmental concerns and the price of gas. The regulations are a "big issue" said Mayo Shattuck III, executive chairman of Exelon Corporation.

Most industry observers believe that the issues will be resolved given the reality that a continued crumbling utility infrastructure in this country will negatively impact the economy.

Long-time Minority Business Enterprise entrepreneurs like Will Johnson of Visage Energy Corp. believe that the time is right for WMDvBEs to pursue business in the utility sector. "I have been in the energy business for 20 years, and have seen many cycles," said Johnson. Any WMDvBE must be willing to "pay some dues" and "work with the companies to learn the business."

To learn more about the UMA program, go to http://www.naruc.org.