Today we have made history — good history!
The California Public Utilities Commission by a unanimous 5-0 vote has adopted a 1.5% procurement goal for LGBT business enterprises under the Commission’s General Order 156 — the Supplier Diversity Program for utility companies in California.
This landmark decision will apply across-the-board to all kinds of utilities, large and small, from the huge telecommunications carriers (such as AT&T and Verizon) to the big energy companies (such as PG&E and Southern California Edison), and to others as well (such as water companies, big and small).
In purely economic terms, today’s decision is expected to yield well over $600 million per year in revenues for LGBTQ businesses in California, as they compete for contracts with the utility companies.
For consumers, this is a welcome opportunity, because it brings new competitors to the table, on equal terms with more established businesses. With more competition, the utilities can negotiate better terms, and the benefits will flow directly to the utility companies’ customers in moderating their utility bills.
For the LGBTQ community, this Decision has tremendous potential for assuaging the effects of past trauma. It will be a salve for the wounds that LGBTQ people have suffered by being denied equal rights and equal opportunities for so long.
Today, a warm wave of healing will sweep out from California, across the entire United States. It will be felt by millions.
We celebrate former Assemblymember Rich Gordon for his authoring of the baseline legislation that made this all possible, along with former Senator Mark Leno for his carrying Gordon’s bill through the California Senate in 2014.
We at BuildOUT California are extremely gratified by the collaboration with outstanding organizations including Equality California and their over 900,000 members, and LGBTQ Chambers of Commerce across California and beyond. We also benefitted from an extraordinary outpouring of support from so many elected officials including United States Senators Feinstein and Padilla, the California Legislature’s LGBTQ Caucus, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, Controller Betty Yee, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, and then-Palm Springs Mayor Christy Holstege.
Together we can achieve much.
Frank R. Lindh
Attorney for BuildOUT California
Former CPUC General Counsel
Current Lecturer in Law, Stanford University Law School