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Changing of the Guard

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Nevelyn Black's picture
Writer, Independent

Nevelyn Black is an independent writer with a background in broadcast and a keen interest in renewable energy.  In the last few years, she transitioned from celebrity interviews and film shoots...

  • Member since 2017
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  • Jan 6, 2023

The new year signaled a changing of the guard for the utility industry.  New leadership roles are taking shape within the energy sector.  

  • Alabama Power Company named Jeff Peoples as their new CEO, effective immediately.  Peoples will replace Mark Crossroads on the heels of some major accomplishments by the company within the community.  The Alabama Power’s economic development team set a record, working with state and local officials, they created over 7,000 new jobs and $6 billion in new investments.  The utility also promotes innovation by supporting startups in the energy sector.  
  • Southern Company welcomes Chris Womack to the helm as the companies’ new CEO and member of the Board of Directors.  Womack has a long history in the industry and plans to continue the progress and conversion to net zero.  “I have confidence that Chris will continue our progress and deliver on Southern Company's commitment to providing clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy and customized solutions to customers across the United States. I look forward to working closely with Chris over the next five months as he assumes this new role and to focusing on an effective transition in my new position as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors,” said current CEO, Tom Fanning.
  • Dakota Electric named Ryan Hentges as the new president and CEO of the member-owned electric distribution co-op.  Eager to dive into the new position, Hentges said, "Dakota Electric has a strong reputation in the community, excellent reliability numbers and a team of employees who provide top-tier member services.  I look forward to leading this outstanding team.”
  • Doug McGowen took over at Memphis, Light, Gas & Water (MLGW). HIs plans for the utility include lowering call center wait times, limiting widespread outages by replacing aging infrastructure and replacing street lights to be more energy efficient. “As you know, there is a five-year improvement plan that's established. We want to accelerate that plan. It's been tough to get tree trimming crews on board but we are going to take a good hard look at that," McGowen added.
  • The nation’s largest energy transmission and distribution company, Exelon is expanding the role for Calvin Butler Jr., as president and CEO.  “We are in a unique position to lead our customers and the nation on a path to a clean energy future. And we strive to not only lead the energy transformation, but to do so equitably, while strengthening our infrastructure, modernizing our energy delivery systems, and improving the lives of those in our communities,” said Butler. His goals to expand renewables and decarbonize are in line with industry trends.  

What new or sustainable goals will Jeff Peoples, Doug McGowen, Ryan Hentges, Chris Momack, and Calvin Bulter Jr. bring to their respective companies?  They all agree on the importance of change and evolution and sometimes, even revolution.  “This is a pivotal time for the energy industry as we invest in the grid to ensure its reliability, resilience and security, while expanding access for renewable energy, enabling decarbonization goals and continuing transportation sector electrification,” said former Exelon CEO Chris Crane. “Throughout Exelon’s evolution as a company, we have matched our goals with highly skilled leadership teams to achieve outstanding results, and I am proud that we have such a talented team on board.” 

Womack acknowledged the same fact when he said, “It is an important time in our industry as the energy landscape continues to rapidly evolve and customers' needs continue to change, and Southern Company is at the forefront of that evolution.”  Womack added, "We're building the future of energy, and I'm excited to continue playing a role in this new capacity. It is an honor to lead teams working in states across the country that are wholeheartedly dedicated to innovating and delivering both world class customer service and reliability to our customers. We've got a lot of important work ahead of us.”

The issues utilities are faced with highlight that last statement.  The energy sector has ‘a lot of important work’ to do to address affordability, EV’s and the strain on the grid, renewables and connectivity to the grid, data and how best to secure it.  As forecasted, we should expect to see greater security, more edge computing technologies (that save processing timed and reduce the need for internet access) and the use of AI to manage and analyze market data. What else will these new leaders contribute to their companies and to the industry as a whole?  Are their goals in line with industry trends, needs or expectations?  

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 6, 2023

It's exciting to see the energy and direction from new leadership in the utility sector. We're amid the most dynamic era of our industry and it sounds like we're in good hands with these folks!

Nevelyn Black's picture
Thank Nevelyn for the Post!
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