Virginia’s Utility Kingpin Ends 14-Year CEO Stint Amid Scrutiny Of Record On Race

Written by on July 31, 2020

Dominion Power CEO Thomas Farrell II on Friday stated he’ll step down because the utility big’s chief govt in October, vacating a task that made him Virginia’s strongest unelected determine amid new scrutiny of his document on race.

Farrell, 65, will stay govt chairman of the Dominion board. The corporate, which offers electrical energy and pure gasoline to six.7 million prospects in eight states, will promote Robert M. Blue, govt vice chairman and co-chief working officer, as president and chief govt officer. Executive vice chairman Diane Leopold will change into chief working officer. 

“There isn’t any established timeframe for my position as govt chair, and I sit up for persevering with to serve the corporate on behalf of our shareholders, prospects and communities,” Farrell, who has been CEO for 14 years, stated in a press release. “I can be notably targeted on persevering with to develop our strategic plan and Dominion’s management within the new clear vitality financial system.”

The reshuffling caps a tumultuous few months that appeared to shake buyers’ belief in Farrell.

Dominion Energy CEO Thomas Farrell signs off from one of his jobs at the utility giant. 

Dominion Power CEO Thomas Farrell indicators off from one among his jobs on the utility big. 

In March, a federal class-action lawsuit accused a Dominion subsidiary of scheming with two contractors to discriminate in opposition to Black staff and candidates in recruitment, hiring, and retention practices. In Might, almost 47% of Dominion’s shareholders voted in favor of a proposal to require an unbiased board chair, which might have successfully given Farrell a boss for the primary time since he took on the chairman position in 2007, a yr after changing into chief govt. 

On July 5, Dominion deserted the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a pure gasoline megaproject during which the corporate devoted billions, as authorized challenges mounted. The agency’s struggle to construct noisy, air-polluting pipeline infrastructure by a traditionally Black group in central Virginia grew to become a notable flashpoint within the challenge’s almost decadelong saga. 

Final week, Farrell’s private document on race got here into clearer view in a HuffPost article that in contrast the affect of his choices on communities of colour with a 2014 Civil Conflict movie the lawyer-turned-executive wrote and produced, which glorified the Confederacy and inaccurately solid younger Virginia rebels as would-be abolitionists. 

On the day the article was printed, a bunch of 5 Dominion staff appeared to by accident add a HuffPost reporter to an inner texting chain on which they complained a couple of “whole of three unfavourable items brewing” that might “attempt to tar us,” together with one “calling Tom a racist” and two others inspecting the corporate’s political ties.  

Our utility executives are in it for themselves and exhibit deeply problematic behaviors. Leah Stokes, utility coverage knowledgeable

A Dominion spokesman defended Farrell in an on-background name, pointing to current donations the corporate gave to traditionally Black schools and universities and “social justice” group teams. That very same day, Dominion gave $25,000 to a Virginia Democratic committee. 

Dominion’s inner strife comes amid a nationwide rebellion in opposition to white supremacy that has led company upheaval throughout the nation and prompted the removing of statues honoring Accomplice leaders close to the utility’s headquarters in Richmond, the previous capital of the Confederacy. 

Farrell’s departure from the C-suite is analogous to that of Arizona Public Service CEO Don Brandt, who resigned from the Grand Canyon State’s largest utility final yr amid mounting controversies, in line with Leah Stokes, a coverage knowledgeable and creator of the brand new e-book “Brief Circuiting Coverage,” which examines utilities’ affect peddling.

Like Dominion, APS changed Brandt with an underling who labored carefully with the outgoing chief. 

Farrell’s tenure as chief govt left Dominion’s “popularity tarnished,” Stokes stated.

“Who will we enable to be CEOs of utility firms? This can be a privileged place in society,” Stokes stated. “You’re offering a primary service to the general public that they should purchase, the client has no alternative about who to purchase it from, and also you receives a commission handsomely for the privilege …  but our utility executives are in it for themselves and exhibit deeply problematic behaviors.” 

Throughout a second-quarter earnings name with buyers Friday morning, Farrell appeared to brush apart the importance of his current challenges in his determination to step down as chief govt. This yr, he stated, marked his 25th on the firm. He stated the “group we’ve got assembled at Dominion over the previous 15 years would be the identical group that carries us into the long run,” and famous that these executives cared about “sustainability, variety and group engagement.” 

“Considered one of my objectives as CEO was to construct a powerful management group and a long-term succession plan,” he stated. “At the moment’s announcement is the subsequent step in that course of.” 

CORRECTION: A earlier model incorrectly named the manager who will change into the brand new CEO. 

This can be a growing story. Please test again for updates.

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