MILWAUKEE, Jan. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The board of directors of WEC Energy Group (NYSE: WEC) today announced that effective May 1, 2016, Gale Klappa, age 65, will retire as chief executive officer and become non-executive chairman. As part of the company's leadership succession plan, Allen Leverett, age 49, will succeed Klappa as chief executive.
"We delivered a decade of strong growth as we've modernized the energy infrastructure of the region – investing more than $10.5 billion since 2003 in our electricity and natural gas networks, Klappa said. "And with our acquisition of Integrys last year, we've emerged as the leading electric and natural gas utility in the Midwest – known for exceptional reliability, customer satisfaction and financial discipline."
Upon Klappa's retirement, Leverett will become the company's 14th chief executive. Leverett also has been appointed to the board of directors. He has been serving as president of the company since 2013.
"Allen has been a key contributor to our success – first as chief financial officer, then as the leader of our power generation group and most recently as president of the parent firm," Klappa said. "I've known and worked with Allen for more than 20 years. The depth of his experience, his management skills and his focus on execution make him the ideal person to lead our company through a time of continuing change in the energy industry."
On behalf of the company's board of directors, John F. Bergstrom, chairman of the board's succession planning committee, said, "We have great confidence in Allen. He is an extremely capable executive who has worked effectively with our board for years as a key member of our senior team."
Bergstrom added, "In more than a decade as chief executive, Gale raised the vitality, focus and performance of an enduring American company. He has been an extraordinary leader, and we're delighted that he will continue to help shape our future and the future of the region as non-executive chairman of our board."
Leverett said, "I'm honored to be entrusted with the leadership of the company and with the opportunity to build on the strong culture of service and performance that Gale instilled. The company is very well positioned. We have a talented and experienced management team. Our future is bright."
Klappa joined Wisconsin Energy as president in April 2003. He was elected to the company's board of directors in December 2003. Prior to joining Wisconsin Energy, he served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Southern Company in Atlanta, Georgia.
Klappa is a 1972 graduate cum laude of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (UWM), with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications.
In 2011, Klappa received an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree from UWM in recognition of his support for UWM's growth initiative; his leadership in helping to shape the economic future of southeast Wisconsin through the launch of the Milwaukee 7, a regional economic development initiative; and his extensive community involvement.
Electric Light & Power magazine named Klappa CEO of the Year in January 2012 — recognizing his role in executing the company's Power the Future plan. In September 2012, Corporate Responsibility magazine named Klappa Responsible CEO of the Year.
He was named 2013 Wisconsin Business Leader of the Year by the Harvard Business School Club of Wisconsin, and in 2015, he was named to Institutional Investor magazine's All-America Executive team for the sixth consecutive year.
Leverett joined Wisconsin Energy in 2003 as chief financial officer. In May 2004, he was named executive vice president and chief financial officer of Wisconsin Energy and We Energies.
In March 2011, Leverett was named president and chief executive officer of We Generation, the company's power generation group, with overall responsibility for the company's electric generation portfolio, fuel procurement, environmental compliance and renewable energy development strategy.
He has served as president of the parent company since August 2013, and he is also responsible for the business operations of the company's utilities in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota.
Prior to joining the company, Leverett served as chief financial officer and executive vice president of Georgia Power in Atlanta, Georgia.
Leverett earned his bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, in electrical engineering and mathematics from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. He also earned a master's degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, and a Master of Business Administration degree with a finance concentration from Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.
Leverett is a director of American Transmission Co. as well as a director and nonexecutive chairman of Church Mutual Insurance Co. He also is a member of the board of trustees for Alverno College in Milwaukee.
WEC Energy Group (NYSE: WEC), based in Milwaukee, is one of the nation's premier energy companies, serving 4.4 million customers in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota.
The company's principal utilities are We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas, Michigan Gas Utilities, and Minnesota Energy Resources. The company's other major subsidiary, We Power, designs, builds and owns electric generating plants.
WEC Energy Group (wecenergygroup.com), a component of the S&P 500, has approximately $29 billion of assets, 8,500 employees and 55,000 stockholders of record.
SOURCE WEC Energy Group