Published in Energy
Patti Poppe, President and CEO of CMS Energy Corp. Patti Poppe, President and CEO of CMS Energy Corp. COURTESY PHOTO

Consumers Energy CEO stepping down to lead California’s largest utility

BY MiBiz staff Wednesday, November 18, 2020 08:03am

JACKSON — CMS Energy Corp. President and CEO Patti Poppe is leaving the Jackson-based utility to lead San Francisco-based utility PG&E Corp., effective Dec. 1.

Executive Vice President of Operations Garrick Rochow will replace Poppe as president and CEO of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS) and its gas and electric subsidiary, Consumers Energy. Consumers is the largest energy company in the state, while Poppe is joining the largest utility in California.

“Since 2011, I have considered CMS Energy as my home and my co-workers as my family and I will miss everyone immensely,” Poppe said in a statement. “Garrick is a world class leader and will continue to deliver on the triple bottom line of people, planet and prosperity as we have for many years now.”

Poppe has been president and CEO of Consumers Energy since 2016. In that time, the utility has started a major transition to clean energy — in particular wind and solar power and energy efficiency — under sweeping statewide energy reforms that were passed the same year.

Poppe has held various leadership roles with Consumers Energy for nearly a decade. Prior to that, she spent five years at the state’s other large regulated utility, DTE Energy, as well as 15 years at General Motors as a plant manager.

Poppe joins California’s largest utility roughly two years after it was embroiled in a scandal over whether its aging infrastructure caused one of the state’s deadliest wildfires in history, the Camp Fire. PG&E filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2019, and completed its restructuring on on July 1. The bankruptcy plan included a $25.5 billion settlement that went to wildfire victims’ groups. 

Rochow has worked at Consumers for 17 years. Over the past four years, he has overseen the company’s natural gas distribution and transmission operations, generation and compression operations. He also serves on the board of directors for The Right Place Inc., a regional economic development group based in Grand Rapids.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

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