In this episode: how one CEO was forced to reckon with her roots in coal country, change her view on climate change, and reorient her utility to embrace the clean energy transition.
Patti Poppe is the president and CEO of Consumers Energy, the biggest utility in Michigan. She’s an industrial engineer who got her start in the automotive industry managing plants for General Motors.
For the last 15 years, she’s been working in the utility business. She’s done it all: power plant director, operations VP, customer experience lead, and now chief executive.
Today, Patti is leading the biggest power company in Michigan through a massive transition toward renewables and energy efficiency. And she’s convinced that the transition needs to happen quickly.
“We've made a big transition here. We used to have the ‘sucker's choice.’ You can have clean energy, it's just going to be expensive. Or you can have the cheap and dirty stuff, take your pick. We sold that story for a long time. And the reality is we don't have to make that sucker's choice anymore,” says Patti.
Deciding to go all-in on a climate strategy was a huge transformation for Michigan’s biggest utility. And for Patti too.
“And so when we actually brought the data...I think people felt free and safe for the first time to say what they really believed about it, and we could really come to a place that we could all agree on how to move forward.”
In this episode, we’ll detail how it all unfolded.
Wall Street Journal profile of Patti Poppe’s approach to the clean energy transition
Crain’s Detroit Business: Consumers plan to close down coal plants
Energy News Network: Poppe is “betting on the people of Michigan” to clean up the grid