It was late at night in Haiti, and as her group travelled back to their mission house Joaquina Borges King couldn’t help but notice groups of kids were huddled under a lone streetlight. Ten or fifteen of them gathered in a circle engaged in some sort of activity. At first, Borges King thought they were playing a game or even maybe fighting. But her guide explained that the streetlights were the only power source available. And the children—students—were all doing their homework.
The moment was especially meaningful given Borges King’s career. She’s a lawyer at Eversource Energy, a publicly traded energy company located in Boston that, with 3.7 million electric and natural gas customers, serves as New England’s largest energy provider.
As senior counsel, Borges King arms the company’s corporate officers with the legal regulatory strategies they need to succeed. She also helps create agreements and partnerships for energy procurement and renewable energy programs. What she saw during her mission trip to Haiti made her a bigger advocate for these issues. “The need for reliable and renewable energy is big at home and can have a critical impact in remote and underdeveloped parts of the world,” she says. “The infrastructure has to be developed, maintained, and protected.”
In 2013 Borges King helped Eversource create a new program to take advantage of incentives the state of Connecticut made available to electric customers who install rooftop solar panels, fuel cells, and other renewable energy distributed generation. Starting up the Eversource low and zero renewable energy credit program team took a lot of behind-the-scenes maneuvering. Borges King collaborated with colleagues, stakeholders, and other public service utilities to write the rules and guidelines to start and solicit competitive bids for what is now a nationally recognized program in its tenth year.
Getting the program off the ground was a good fit for Borges King, who is always looking to make a positive impact. “I was raised on the precepts of faith, family, and giving back,” she says. “And I was taught that it’s important to offer something to one’s community.”
Borges King is a first-generation immigrant who traces her origins to the Cape Verde islands. When a tragic construction accident took the life of her father, her mother raised her with the help of an older brother who’d become an attorney. She remembers watching him assist her mother—who lacked formal education and command of the English language—in a court proceeding. “I saw the importance of judges, lawyers, and the judicial system in the life of an immigrant family that needed help,” she says.
These events, as well as her undergraduate experiences, inspired Borges King to enroll at Georgetown University Law Center. Before joining Eversource in 2008, she worked at law firms and in various state and municipal positions. Along the way, Borges King spent time as a consumer advocate, which she says is an asset at Eversource because the public service utility company truly cares for those it serves.
“I’m here to make sure we are compliant in creating and implementing renewable energy initiatives that allow the utility and all stakeholders to partner in ways that introduce renewable technology and also maximize distribution grid reliability, resiliency and safety,” she explains. “Because of my background I have extra sensitivity to how important it is to ensure our customers understand their rights and know how to maximize the value of our services.”
The role has additional significance for someone who remembers watching her own immigrant mother struggle.
Borges King’s unique personal and professional background has helped Eversource find creative solutions to the problems it faces, and she is on a mission to help increase diversity on her teams, in the company, in leadership positions, and throughout the entire industry. She has served as her legal department’s diversity intern supervisor, led a statewide nonprofit dedicated to diversity and inclusion of attorneys of color as board chair, and moderated and been on panel discussions on corporate DEI initiatives.
As Eversource moves forward, Borges King is focused on new measures to help customers understand their bills, improve energy usage, and save money. The company is launching an energy storage pilot program for those who can generate power and store it for use when loads are at peak demand.
Legal work in energy can be demanding. Borges King has seen COVID-19 devastate customers, and she’s worked to arrange longer payment programs and avoid terminations. She leads with positivity and knows that every problem has a solution. “Bad things might happen, but the right attitude makes a big difference,” she says. “I try to model that for those I work with and my clients: stay grounded, do the right thing, work hard, and treat everyone with respect.”
Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP:
“Joaquina is not only a fierce advocate who quickly provides pragmatic advice on complex issues but is also genuinely kind and thoughtful. She is an excellent mentor and inspiration to junior attorneys.”
–Sarah S. Healey, Partner
Keegan Werlin LLP:
“Working with Joaquina Borges King has been a privilege. As regulatory counsel for New England’s largest utility company, she is the consummate professional. She is also a working mother who has successfully paired her home and work roles. Our admiration and respect for Jaqui as a work partner is only outdone by her ability to represent our mutual client.”
–Cheryl Kimball, Managing Partner