The CEO of major U.S. energy company Exelon Utilities retired on Oct. 15, leaving the company as federal officials investigate Exelon’s lobbying activities at the Illinois State Capitol.
The retirement of Anne Pramaggiore, 61, who became CEO of Exelon Utilities in 2018, comes less than a week after Exelon subsidiary Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), Illinois’ largest utility, and Exelon Utilities were subpoenaed for a second time in a probe looking at what authorities call “communications” between the companies and Martin Sandoval, a Democratic state senator from Chicago whose offices and home were raided by FBI agents in September.
The Chicago Tribune has reported that the investigation into lobbying at the Capitol in Springfield dates to at least mid-May of this year. The FBI in May executed search warrants at the homes of former lobbyist Mike McClain, a longtime confidant of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan; and ex-23rd Ward Alderman Michael Zalewski.
The newspaper has reported that the FBI wanted information that included records of communications among McClain, Zalewski, and Madigan, including attempts to get ComEd lobbying work for Zalewski.
BGE Chief Exec Named Interim Exelon CEO
Exelon Corp., the parent of Exelon Utilities, in a news release Tuesday said Calvin G. Butler Jr., 49, CEO of Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE), has been installed as interim CEO of Exelon Utilities, effective immediately.
“We are pleased Calvin is assuming this role on an interim basis to work closely with our strong utility leadership team,” said Christopher M. Crane, president and CEO of Exelon Corp., in the release. “Calvin has established an excellent track record of successfully executing on BGE’s strategic initiatives, including driving meaningful improvements in customer service, safety and reliability, and delivering solid financial results. Importantly, Exelon benefits from a deep bench of talent and industry expertise. Our leadership team remains well-positioned to continue executing on our strategic priorities, including our customer-first approach, safety, reliability and sustainability initiatives and regulatory strategy.”
Illinois authorities have said the raid of Sandoval’s home involved looking for “items related to ComEd, Exelon, any employee, officer or representative of any of those businesses, Exelon Official A, Exelon Official B, Exelon Official C, Exelon Official D, and/or any issue supported by any of those businesses or individuals, including, but not limited to, rate increases.” That search warrant, which was dated Sept. 23, was not publicly disclosed until Oct. 11.
ComEd in June publicly disclosed that the utility and Exelon had received a federal grand jury subpoena that required “production of information concerning their lobbying activities” in Illinois. ComEd spokeswoman Jean Medina on Tuesday told media she could provide no more details about Pramaggiore’s retirement beyond what was in the Exelon Corp. news release. She did say Exelon and ComEd are cooperating with authorities.
ComEd and Exelon on Oct. 9 publicly disclosed the companies were part of the investigation of Sandoval, and said Exelon had established a committee of independent directors to oversee compliance with federal investigators. ComEd in an Oct. 4 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission disclosed that Fidel Marquez, senior vice president at ComEd in charge of government affairs, had retired on Oct. 2.
Utilities Performed Well Under Pramaggiore
Crane in the news release said of Pramaggiore’s retirement, “We thank Anne for her valuable service to Exelon and ComEd and the important contributions she made to enhance our utility operations throughout her tenure. Over the past several years, including under her leadership, Exelon’s utilities have continued to achieve high levels of reliability and record levels of customer satisfaction, while implementing industry-leading strategies for the future of our utility business. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing our millions of customers with clean, affordable and reliable energy and outstanding service. We are confident this will be a smooth transition for all Exelon stakeholders, including our customers, employees, communities and shareholders.”
Pramaggiore had served as president and CEO of ComEd before moving to Exelon Utilities. She was in charge of all six of Exelon’s U.S. utilities, including ComEd. Pramaggiore succeeded Frank Clark as ComEd’s CEO in 2012, becoming the first female chief executive in the utility’s history.
Crain’s Chicago Business reported that during Pramaggiore’s tenure as ComEd CEO, the company “pushed major initiatives through Springfield, most notably the 2011 smart-grid law that authorized $2.6 billion in grid-modernization investments over a decade and permitted the utility to set its rates annually via a formula that gave regulators little latitude to change.” Madigan also led efforts at the Capitol to pass the smart-grid law, over a veto from then-Gov. Pat Quinn. Crain’s reported that the utility’s electricity delivery rates “jumped 37 percent from 2013 to 2019, padding ComEd’s profits and aiding its parent company Exelon at a time when power prices were falling and pressuring its nuclear plants financially.”
Madigan also in 2016 helped with passage of a ratepayer-funded bailout for two nuclear plants Exelon had threatened to close in Illinois. That measure provides the utility with more than $200 million in additional revenue each year. A federal appeals court in 2018 upheld the subsidies.
—Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).