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Hispanics in Energy

Progress is being made 

By Patricia Guadalupe

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Maria Tamburri recently spoke at the Energy Legislative Summit at the U.S. Department of Energy headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was presented by Hispanics in Energy (HIE), an organization that facilitates inclusion in the fast-growing $3 trillion energy sector. 

“I really thought that their mission works well with what we are doing as a company. The Hispanic community being an important part of the area that we provide service to, we want to make sure that we engage as much as possible with organizations such as,” says Tamburri, a VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Dominion Energy, who sits on the board of the Sacramento-based nonprofit.

HIE was co-founded in 2012 by José Perez, who serves as president and CEO.  The California State graduate is a nationally recognized advocate for diversity. “There are very few Latinos and we decided we needed a group like this to try to make sure we get access to that economic pie. We started with four people in Sacramento and now it’s up to 11,000 members nationwide,” he said. “There are very few Latino owners in the energy sector and just between one and three percent of contracts go to Latino-owned businesses.” 

But Perez agrees there has been progress: “When we started HIE there were no Latino CEOs [in the energy sector] and now there are 12. That’s still less than one percent so we have a long way to go, but we work with HACU and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) to get more kids in STEM careers and more contracts for Latino businesses.”

The chairman of HIE is Joe Dominguez, president and CEO of Constellation Energy. “The principal goal of HIE is to make sure that Hispanics have opportunities to participate in the energy economy through jobs, contracting, and other economic opportunities for professionals while making sure that companies provided value back to the Hispanic community. Hispanics hadn’t been traditionally involved in the energy industry. We’re the largest minority group in the country yet we’re not really represented on an equal footing with other groups already in the energy sector. There needed to be a voice there,” he said.

Dominguez continued: “We’re huge consumers in the energy sector. And as we see some of the challenges of climate change, many Latino families and small businesses are really affected. So as we deal with the climate crisis, we’re going to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to create more resilient systems and invest in clean energy and new technologies, and we wanted to make sure that Latinos got their fair share of those economic opportunities, whether it’s jobs, working for a company like Constellation, or as entrepreneurs or service providers. We wanted to make sure that we sent a signal to the Latino community that these are the opportunities and they’re big and this is how you get those opportunities, and here’s how we’re going to connect you.”

HIE recently sponsored an Energy Legislative Forum at the U.S. Department of Energy headquarters in Washington, D.C., to discuss supplier and contracting opportunities in addition to advocatw for more Latinos working in the energy sector.

“We need more Hispanics here [at DOE] and in the STEM field. There are so many clean energy technologies that are coming online, technologies that will lift communities that have been left behind. There is so much promise. We’ve got to make sure that the solutions are in the communities that have been left behind. We’re going to be remaking the energy landscape and we’re going to do it with and for Hispanic communities,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, highlighting the importance of working with groups such as HIE. “The potential is enormous but we want to make sure that people know how to access the opportunities. We need to get the word out. We want to see more members of the Hispanic community in our ranks.” 

Also participating in the forum was California Senator Alex Padilla. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act are providing billions of dollars for the Department of Energy to help combat climate change, transition us to a clean energy economy, and protect the future of our planet,” he said. “We have a responsibility to seize this moment and prioritize equity and uplifting Latino communities in this process, which will move the DOE towards a more inclusive future that benefits us all.”

Dominguez added that the future looks bright: “I think at the end of the day, Latinos are going to be the champions of driving the energy transition and in so doing are going to create businesses and jobs. I think the Latino community is primed to take advantage of it. I’m so proud of the work we’ve done and the best days are ahead of us.” 

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