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BREAKING: Weeks After Canceling Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project, Dominion Energy Names New Executive Leadership Team…Tom Farrell Out as Chairman/President/CEO

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Wow, very interesting…been wondering if something like this might happen, given all the other changes at Dominion Energy – including, of course, cancellation on July 5 of the massive Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. Will this mean further changes in direction, hopefully towards a greater focus on renewable energy and more focus on the core utility business? Let’s hope so, but for now…here’s the press release with the big news. One question – why is Blue reporting to Farrell if Blue is President/CEO? That seems odd. Maybe, as one smart Virginia politico just pointed out to me, it’s a “staggered transition,” that “Farrell knows the biz so they’re keeping him on hand while they switch over?”

P.S. Someone pointed out to me that These are all “long-time Dominion players,” and  that they “have their hands heavily implicated in some of Dominion’s ugliness.” Which, of course, raises the question, do these personnel changes really imply a shift in Dominion’s deep, structural problems, including for many years appearing to side with climate science deniers, to fight the necessary switch to 100% clean energy, to spew out disinformation of all sorts (e.g., supposedly “clean” natural gas, which is a big lie), to corrupt/”capture” Virginia’s government, etc, etc. The fact is, the problems at Dominion Energy are deep-rooted and systemic. Which is why that company needs completely new thinking and a massive shift in direction. It also needs Virginia politicians to stop coddling them and pressure them to do just that!  As Jon Sokolow just tweeted, “Tom Farrell is the symptom and good riddance. But the problem is systemic – corporate greed, climate denial, systemic racism and corruption of our political system, to name a few.”

UPDATE: For more information on Bob Blue, see Ivy Main’s/Seth Heald’s post from 2016, which notes that in a speech to the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Blue said: that “‘natural gas is the new default fuel’ for electric-power generation” and that “[w]e expect the big things we build to last 50 years or more” (he’s talking about natural gas-fired power plants, mostly). Also: “If climate change is a subject Blue has given any thought to lately, he neglected to mention it“; “Blue brought up solar and wind mostly to justify DVP’s go-slow approach in deploying them“; and “ignoring climate change allowed Blue to ignore the need to compare his company’s greenhouse-gas-emissions trajectory with what the science tells us must be done to retain a recognizable climate.” In sum, this guy doesn’t sound like an improvement over Tom Farrell.

Dominion Energy Names New Executive Leadership Team

– Farrell to become executive chair
– Blue to be promoted to president and chief executive officer
– Leopold will be promoted to company’s sole chief operating officer
– Baine to lead Dominion Energy Virginia operating segment

RICHMOND, Va.July 31, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Dominion Energy (NYSE: D) today announced that Thomas F. Farrell, II, chairman, president and chief executive officer, will become the company’s executive chair, effective Oct. 1, 2020. In that role, Farrell will continue to serve as chair of the Board of Directors. Also, effective that date, Robert M. Blue, executive vice president and co-chief operating officer, will be promoted to president and chief executive officer, reporting to Farrell. Diane Leopold, executive vice president and co-chief operating officer, will be promoted to Dominion Energy’s sole chief operating officer, responsible for all the company’s operating segments, reporting to Blue. Edward H. “Ed” Baine will be promoted to president-Dominion Energy Virginia. He will report to Leopold.

Farrell joined Dominion Energy in 1995, was promoted to president and CEO in 2006 and added the role of chairman in 2007. “One of my goals as CEO was to build a strong leadership team and a long-term succession plan,” said Farrell. “Today’s announcement is the next step in that process.”

Blue joined Dominion Energy in 2005 and has held a succession of services and operational executive roles since his promotion to officer in 2007, including vice president-State and Federal Affairs; senior vice president-Public Policy and Corporate Communications; senior vice president-Regulation, Law, Energy Solutions, & Policy; president-Dominion Virginia Power; and his current role as executive vice president and co-chief operating officer.

Prior to joining Dominion Energy, Blue served as counselor to the Governor and director of policy for Virginia Governor Mark Warner, as an attorney and partner at then-Hogan & Hartson, and as a law clerk for the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. Blue has been a board member of a wide range of community organizations and is currently a member of the Virginia Health Care Foundation and Communities in Schools of Virginia as well as the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors. Blue is a graduate of the University of Virginia, Yale Law School and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

Leopold joined Dominion Energy in 1995 and became an officer in 2004. She held a wide range of executive roles in both the electric and natural gas businesses of the company prior to her current role as executive vice president and co-chief operating officer. These include senior vice president-Business Development & Generation Construction; senior vice president-Dominion Transmission; and executive vice president and CEO-Gas Infrastructure Group.

Leopold currently serves as chair of the American Gas Association. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Virginia Union University and is on the board of directors of Markel Corporation and of the Growth and Opportunity Virginia Foundation. Leopold is a graduate of the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom and has a master’s degree in engineering from George Washington University. She earned her MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Baine joined the company in 1995 as an associate engineer after earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech, and since has held numerous engineering, operational and management positions. He was promoted to vice president-Shared Services in 2009, and became vice president–Power Generation System Operations in 2013 and senior vice president–Transmission & Customer Service in 2015. In 2016, he was named senior vice president-Distribution, Power Delivery Group, and assumed his current role as senior vice president-Power Delivery for Dominion Energy Virginia in 2019.

Baine is a member of Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors. He is active in the industry as a member of the Southeastern Electric Exchange Board of Directors and the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies’ Power Delivery Executive committees. He is a board member of the Dominion Energy Credit Union, ChamberRVA, Venture Richmond, CJW Medical Center, the Valentine and MEGA Mentors.

Succeeding Baine as senior vice president-Power Delivery will be Charlene Whitfield, who, effective Oct. 1, 2020, is being promoted from her current role as vice president-Distribution Operations. Whitfield will oversee Dominion Energy Virginia’s electric transmission, distribution and customer solutions business and will report to Baine. Whitfield joined Dominion in 1982 and has held a wide range of leadership roles within Dominion Energy Virginia. She has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Virginia Union University and is a board member of the Dominion Energy Credit Union and the Greater Richmond Partnership.

More than 7 million customers in 20 states energize their homes and businesses with electricity or natural gas from Dominion Energy (NYSE: D), headquartered in Richmond, Va. The company is committed to sustainable, reliable, affordable and safe energy and to achieving net zero carbon dioxide and methane emissions from its power generation and gas infrastructure operations by 2050. Please visit DominionEnergy.com to learn more.