Consumers CEO Patti Poppe steps down in move to PG&E Corporation

Published on November 20, 2020 by Chris Galford

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The CEO of Michigan’s Consumers Energy Company and its parent CMS Energy Corporation, Patti Poppe, will resign as of Dec. 1, 2020, assume a similar role at PG&E Corporation and join the Board of Directors of Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Poppe will inherit a role currently occupied by Interim PG&E CEO William Smith on Jan. 4, 2021. In Michigan, Poppe will be succeeded by CMS’s current executive vice president of operations, Garrick Rochow.

“Patti is an exceptional leader with the experience, drive, and character to lead PG&E through its next chapter,” Robert Flexon, chairman of PG&E Corporation’s Board of Directors, said. “She knows the utility industry top to bottom and has a deep understanding of what it takes to provide safe, reliable, affordable, and clean energy to millions of customers. We all recognize that PG&E must continue to improve, adapt, and become more resilient to the changing climate. As the leader of Michigan’s largest utility, Patti has embraced technology and put the company on a course to achieving its ambitious clean energy goals while maintaining steady and safe performance, prioritizing customer service, and advancing workplace equity.”

Poppe has served as president and CEO of CMS Energy and Consumers since 2016. Her work therein earned her many accolades, including being ranked second among 44 and third among 47 utility CEOs in 2020 and 2021, respectively, by Institutional Investor magazine. She has also become a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of both the Edison Electric Institute and American Gas Association.

She pushed hard for clean energy during her tenure, launching plans to reduce emissions, eliminate coal use, and increase renewable energy efforts, including setting a net zero carbon target by 2040. Under her watch, CMS and Consumers advanced goals to save water, reduce landfill waste, and pursue better land management efforts.

PG&E appointed Poppe following a nationwide search that pursued candidates both inside and outside of the utility and energy industries.

“I am honored by this appointment and look forward to working alongside PG&E’s 23,000 employees to deliver for our customers in Northern and Central California,” Poppe said. “As California’s largest utility, PG&E has the privilege of powering one of the world’s largest economies and the opportunity to help lead the state’s clean energy future. It also faces significant challenges. I am eager to get to know the PG&E team and to join in the critical work of strengthening PG&E for California’s next generation and earning back the community’s trust.”

As to her successor, Rochow is a veteran of CMS energy, having worked there for 17 years. Currently responsible for the company’s electric and natural gas distribution and transmission operations, generation and compression operations, the Michigan Technological University and Western Michigan University grad also works closely with the Michigan Public Service Commission and is on the Board of Directors of the Right Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead a company with amazing co-workers who make a difference every day for our customers, investors, and the communities we serve,” Rochow said. “I look forward to continuing our strong operational and financial performance while creating an environment that keeps our customers and co-workers safe, reflects our culture, and is inclusive and respectful of everyone.”