Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III

The county executives of the two Maryland counties surrounding the Washington metropolitan area recently praised the new community benefits agreement that a utility company is offering their constituents.

Prince George’s County, Md. Executive Rushern Baker III (D) and Montgomery County, Md. Executive Isiah Leggett (D) joined Dave Velazquez, the president of Pepco Holding Inc., on June 9 in Silver Spring, Md., to announce a $133 million comprehensive benefits agreement.

The agreement stems from the acquisition of Pepco by Chicago-based energy giant Exelon earlier this year, as well as the newly merged company’s discussions with Baker and Leggett on how it can best serve the community.

“We’re investing in our community to create jobs and develop skilled workers to fill them,” Velazquez said. “From an energy and environmental perspective, these programs will help lay the groundwork for a more sustainable future.”

The benefits agreement includes $10.6 million for energy efficiency programs, with $4.4 million going to Prince George’s County and Montgomery County receiving $6.1 million; $14.4 million for a Green Sustainability Fund to stimulate public and private investment in sustainability projects, with $6 million to Prince George’s and $8.4 to Montgomery; and funding for workforce development programs, with $1.24 million going to Prince George’s and $1.7 million to Montgomery.

Pepco residential customers recently received the first of two $50 credits, and the company has forgiven past-due amounts more than two years old.

Velazquez said that the agreement includes its pledge to continue to contract with minority-owned firms.

“We are committed to working with local diverse firms, and this has been what Exelon has done for years,” he said.

Baker said he supported the company’s emphasis on minority contracting.

“We focused on the interest of minority firms when we negotiated with Pepco on this in the beginning,” Baker said. “That will continue and we will seek larger opportunities for minority businesses with Exelon, also.”

Baker said that minority educational institutions such as Bowie State University and Prince George’s Community College will reap benefits from the agreement. Leggett pointed out that Donna Cooper, president of Pepco, a distinct company from Pepco Holdings, is also the chair of his county’s workforce development program. Leggett said Cooper is committed to the hiring of people of color in her company and others.

Leggett said the agreement will be a boon to his county.

“We must continue to work in partnership with our utility to find ways to promote investment in clean energy and other innovative technologies,” he said. “I also look forward to working with Pepco on establishing a pilot program for recreational use of Pepco’s transmission corridor, continuing its charitable contributions and local community support and on other programs that contribute to the quality of life that makes Montgomery County a great place to work, live and raise a family.”