* Correction appended.
WASHINGTON – Local charities are looking forward to continued support from Pepco, the region’s oldest utility provider, even as state authorities review a proposed merger with Chicago-based utility Exelon.
Philanthropies were initially concerned that management changes would affect Pepco’s commitment to non-profits. But Exelon has issued assurances that the company will remain committed to Pepco’s 2013 level of philanthropic giving.
That is good news for charities throughout the region.
“I look forward to watching our Pennies for Patients program surpass the million dollar mark,” said Beth Gorman, executive director for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, speaking of one of her organization’s regional projects. “With Pepco’s help and commitment I know that we’ll be able to get there.”
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is one of the world’s largest health organizations, dedicated to funding blood cancer research and helping patients through more than 60 chapters in the U.S. and Canada.
Pennies for Patients has been around for about two decades. In the metro area, the majority of the approximately 470 participating schools come from Maryland.
In the last two years combined they raised close to $1.7 million by encouraging schoolchildren of all ages to bring spare change and dollars to school to support the society’s mission.
Exelon has pledged a total commitment of about $50 million in charitable contributions over 10 years in the Pepco service territory, which spans D.C., Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. That’s about equal to the $5 million a year, or so, that Pepco has been giving.
“We’re…going to…continue to work with non-profit partners without missing a beat. We have already been there. And Exelon’s support to what we have been doing is just going to continue,” said Debbi Jarvis, Pepco’s vice president of Corporate Citizenship and Social Responsibility.
Gorman said she would like to see the partnership with Pepco expand.
Each year about 20 local high schools compete against one another in a fundraising effort as part of the Pennies for Patients program.
“In fact, our two top high schools typically come from the Maryland area,” said Gorman, adding that out of all the participating institutions, Walt Whitman and Walter Johnson high schools each raised more than $80,000 this year.
The society’s goal for the program in the upcoming season, which lasts January through April, is $900,000.
Pepco became involved with the program three years ago, Gorman said.
In addition to a direct contribution of about $45,000 a year, Pepco has provided a summer internship to one student from the school that raises the most money, Jarvis said.
*Separate from its charitable activities, Exelon also plans to invest billions in its current utility business.
*“Over the next five years, Exelon alone on the utility side of the business will be investing $16 billion in the communities we serve,” said Chris Crane, Exelon’s CEO, speaking during an October event in Washington.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the proposed merger of Exelon Corporation and Pepco Holdings last Thursday.
The company is now awaiting approvals on the deal from public utility commissions in the district, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.
According to the Maryland Public Service Commission, the next set of hearings where public comments about the merger will be heard are scheduled for January.
*Due to an editing error, an earlier version of the story quoted Exelon CEO Chris Crane out of context.