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Joe Dominguez, new CEO of ComEd, lays out ComEd’s vision in an exclusive interview with Negocios Now

By Michael Volpe

ComEd has spent billions in the minority community, but the growth is only beginning.

Joe Dominguez began as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ComEd- the largest electricity utility company in Illinois- in June 2018, and he sat down exclusively with Negocios Now in his first interview since taking over.

He said that since 2011, ComEd has spent $3.3 billion with certified diverse suppliers.

Of 366 new hires last year at ComEd, seventy percent were diverse, Dominquez also noted.

Forty-nine percent of ComEd’s total workforce is diverse, Dominguez said, and the same percentage of employees promoted since 2013 was diverse.

“What we’re targeting next is professional services.” he said, “Historically, Latinos, African Americans were not given an opportunity. It’s not simply enough to open the door now and say ‘look, now we’re willing to hire diverse lawyers, diverse financial people or whatnot.’ We have to build the capacity.”

Dominguez said that ComEd will be “Partnering our non-diverse suppliers with diverse ones.”

“It means that we’re bringing in lawyers that are diverse but have never done utility business. We’re giving them a training on the industry.” Dominguez stated further. “We then pair them up with traditional majority firms and they will work side by side on cases with us.”

“We will mentor them.

“The gains we’re going to make next are all about growing the capacity and the capability in a community that historically hasn’t developed that capability because they weren’t given that opportunity.”

Who is Joe Dominguez?

Dominguez takes over as CEO with a unique professional background.

“I’m a lawyer and an engineer,” He said.

Earlier in his career, Dominguez spent time as an Assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, prosecuting everything from money laundering to murder for hire.

He also spent time in private practice as a partner at White and Williams in Philadelphia, before joining Exelon, ComEd’s parent company, as associate general counsel.

He said he slowly transitioned away from law when by 2008, he was immersed in the strategic development of the future of the company.

Starting in 2000, what was a monopoly in electricity supply was turned into competitive markets.

“I had been a litigator my whole life, so I’ve been (arguing cases),” Dominguez said, but starting in 2008 “(I was) starting to develop the strategy and policies- started to develop the political strategies and regulatory strategies.”

In his new role, Dominguez was given an opportunity to influence the direction of electricity supply, which had been deregulated from a monopoly in 2000.

“We have a lot of input into the market design for the sale of electricity and its derivatives. So, energy capacity, what we call ancillary services, all of these were new markets beginning in 2000.

“We opened that up to competition where any power plant can compete. We had to develop markets and rules of the road. So, I oversaw the economists that were designing and are still designing those markets.”

Dominguez noted that mathematics background he gained as an engineer helps him in his new role.

In 2010, Dominguez was named senior vice president of federal regulatory affairs and public policy for Exelon. In 2012, Dominguez became senior vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs and public policy for Exelon before taking over as CEO of ComEd, which he called a lifelong dream.

“It’s been a dream of mine to run a company. I happen to be lucky enough to run what I believe is the best company within the Exelon universe of companies.” Dominguez said.

ComEd’s Future

Dominguez said he’s taking over just as his company has completed a seven-year transition: the implementation of the Energy Infrastructure and Modernization Act (EIMA).

EIMA is more commonly known as the “smart grid law”; it was passed in Illinois in 2011.

EIMA “enabled ComEd to make significant investments to strengthen and modernize the electric grid for northern Illinois,” noted ComEd’s director of communications Paul Elsberg.

This included installing 4 million smart meters.  

Dominguez said that 99.9% of the smart grid work would be completed by year’s end.

“That is the beginning of the functionality of what you are talking about where we’re able to kind of distribute energy, and not only send energy out but bring it back from distributed sources.”

Dominguez believes going forward ComEd’s business will diversify significantly.

For instance, there are currently approximately 10,000 electric vehicles in ComEd’s service territory, but “we see that number climbing exponentially over the course of the next five years.” Dominguez said, “What’s that mean for us? That means more charging stations, more community charging stations being installed. That means a greater capability for electric distribution has to happen.”

He sees growth in clean power sources like distributed solar: “That’s solar that we’re buying back from our customers when our customer isn’t using it. Same sort of story, very few installations today but I think what we’ll see is tons of community solar, that is going to be selected by the Illinois Power Agency in January.”

Dominguez also believed there will be growth in other alternative energy sources like wind and renewables.

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