CMS Energy CEO Russell to retire; Patti Poppe named successor

CMS Energy (NYSE:CMS) said Jan. 26 that President and CEO John Russell has elected to retire his posts at CMS and utility subsidiary Consumers Energy effective July 1.

CMS announced that Russell is expected to become the chairman of the CMS Energy and Consumers Energy boards of directors on May 6. He would succeed David W. Joos who has elected to retire after serving on the boards for 15 years, including six years as chairman.

Russell, 58, is retiring after serving for six years as president and CEO and a career spanning 34 years with CMS Energy.

Russell’s management team and company employees have delivered increasingly successful results in finance, operations and safety. In finance, the company’s market capitalization increased to more than $10 billion today from $3.4 billion in 2010, with 12 consecutive years of meeting earnings expectations, CMS said. Customer satisfaction has improved dramatically. In several surveys, Consumers Energy is ranked as one of the most improved and sustainable energy providers in the country, CMS said.

Patricia (“Patti”) Kessler Poppe will succeed Russell as CMS Energy and Consumers Energy president and chief executive officer in July and is nominated to join the CMS Energy and Consumers Energy boards of directors in May. Russell has served since 2010 as CMS Energy president and chief executive officer, and president and chief executive officer of Consumers Energy.

Poppe, 47, is senior vice president of distribution operations, engineering and transmission for Consumers Energy, with overall responsibility for the company’s electric and natural gas distribution systems, energy operations and electric transmission.

Previously, she served as vice president of customer operations, rates and regulation and joined Consumers Energy in 2011. Before joining the company Poppe served in leadership roles with DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE) including overseeing five electric generating facilities, and held a variety of plant management positions in the automotive industry.

Poppe earned a master’s degree in management from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University.

Poppe joins a small but growing number of female CEOs in the electric power industry.

The CMS board also expects to soon elect William D. Harvey, former chairman and chief executive officer of Alliant Energy (NYSE:LNT) as Presiding Director on May 6, 2016.

The leadership changes will be discussed during the CMS fourth quarter earnings conference call on Jan. 27 at 9 a.m. ET.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at