Gale Klappa will again step away from his role as chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based WEC Energy Group on Feb. 1, but the longtime company leader has agreed to stay on as executive chairman for three years.
As recently as late October, Klappa told analysts there was no timetable for additional changes at the CEO level and he would be around “for quite a while.”
The moves are part of WEC Energy Group’s creation of a four-person office of the chair. Joining Klappa and Fletcher in the office are Scott Lauber and Rick Kuester. Lauber, currently executive vice president and chief financial officer, will be promoted to senior executive vice president, CFO and treasurer. Kuester will continue as senior EVP with broad responsibility for the company’s capital investment plan, IT and power generation.
“The team that will work together in the Office of the Chair has delivered industry leading results over many years with a clear commitment to reliability, customer satisfaction and shareholder value,” Klappa said. “Our focus remains on the fundamentals of our business and on continuing to develop the next generation of senior leadership.”
Klappa was chairman and CEO of WEC Energy Group and its predecessors from 2004 until May 2016. He was then reappointed to the position on an interim basis in October 2017 after his successor, Allen Leverett, suffered a stroke. Klappa was given the position on an ongoing basis the following month.
Leverett remained the company’s president until stepping down in October 2018. He remains on the company’s board of directors.
As part of the new structure, Klappa agreed to stay on as executive chairman for three years. He will have a base salary of $1 million along with short- and long-term incentive opportunities.
“Gale, I appreciate your continued willingness to support the company. Your proven strategic insights and knowledge of the industry will help ensure continued success for WEC Energy Group,” John Bergstrom, chair of the company’s compensation committee, wrote in an employment letter to Klappa.
Klappa was paid $2 million for his service as CEO in 2017 and had a base salary of $1,425,000 in 2018.