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Leadership Lyceum Podcast: A Conversation with WEC Energy Group President and CEO Allen Leverett

Leadership Lyceum Podcast: A Conversation with WEC Energy Group President and CEO Allen Leverett

Fortnightly Magazine - April 2017
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This is a second feature in a series introducing CEOs that were appointed within the past year. It's my pleasure to join Allen Leverett, President and CEO of WEC Energy Group for this conversation.

Allen was appointed President and CEO of WEC Energy Group in May of 2016. As one of the youngest CEOs of investor-owned utilities, Allen brings verve to industry leadership, but also a deep respect for the past.

In some earlier era, he would have been called a man of letters and a humanist. He is a curator of the best of the past, from restoration of architectural treasures to the application of history to his role as CEO. As a Lincoln-phile, he continually draws on a treasure of leadership examples from Abraham Lincoln.

Wisconsin Energy People at Work

Allen and I met in his company's vintage boardroom inside the elegantly renovated Public Service Building in downtown Milwaukee, a beaux-arts/classical revival masterpiece. It opened in 1905 as the downtown interurban passenger train depot for The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company.

WEC Energy Group, based in Milwaukee, is one of the nation's premier energy companies, serving 4.4 million customers in four states: Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota. The company's principal utilities are We Energies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Public Service in Green Bay, Peoples Gas, serving the City of Chicago, North Shore Gas, which serves Chicago's northern suburbs along the lakeshore of Chicago, Michigan Gas Utilities and Minnesota Energy Resources.

Here's a timeline to illustrate the evolution of the company. Ten years ago, Wisconsin Public Service, at the time a separate company, completed its merger with Peoples Energy (Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas) in Chicago, forming Integrys Energy.

EES North America

One year prior to that, Wisconsin Public Service had purchased the Michigan and Minnesota gas utilities from Aquila. We Energies purchased Integrys in the summer of 2015. What a difference a decade makes.

Tom Linquist: Allen, just over a year ago you were appointed president of the company under CEO Gale Klappa. Then a little less than a year ago, in May of 2016, you were appointed CEO of the entire company.

As CEO you preside over a uniquely different company compared to the one you joined fourteen years ago. What do you think about the company in these still early months of your tenure?

Allen Leverett: You use the words 'uniquely different' and maybe we'll just talk about the differences. I think that naturally gets into how we think differently about the business since the Integrys transaction.

We have a much larger natural gas business than before. Certainly, Wisconsin Public Service, before they bought the Aquila properties and merged with Peoples, had a gas business of their own because they were a combined utility in Green Bay. We were also a combined utility in Milwaukee, but when

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