Gale Klappa was appointed executive chairman and to the Office of the Chair of WEC Energy Group by the board of directors, effective Feb. 1, 2019.
Klappa previously served as chairman and chief executive officer of WEC Energy Group after being reappointed by the board of directors in October 2017 to provide continuity following his successor suffering a medical setback. Prior to his reappointment, Klappa served as non-executive chairman of WEC Energy Group after retiring as CEO in May 2016.
Based in Milwaukee, WEC Energy Group is one of the nation’s premier energy companies, serving 4.5 million electric and natural gas customers in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.
Klappa has more than 40 years of experience working in the public utility industry, the last 24 at a senior executive level. From May 2004, Klappa served as chairman and chief executive officer of Wisconsin Energy and We Energies. Under his leadership, the company successfully completed its June 2015 acquisition of Integrys Energy Group, at which time he assumed those same roles for WEC Energy Group.
Prior to joining the company, Klappa served in various executive leadership roles at Southern Co., a public utility holding company serving the southeastern United States. With his extensive experience in the business operations and C-suite leadership of publicly regulated utilities, his service as a board member for two other public companies, and his contributions to significant economic development initiatives in southeastern Wisconsin, Klappa leads the company and board with a deep understanding of the investment decisions and public policy issues facing large public companies.
Klappa joined Wisconsin Energy as president in April 2003. He was elected to the company’s board of directors in December 2003.
Previously in his career, he served as executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of Southern Co. in Atlanta, Georgia. Klappa also was chief strategic officer at Southern Co., North American group president of Southern Energy Inc., and president and CEO of South Western Electricity – Southern Co.’s electric distribution utility in the United Kingdom. Before his assignment in the U.K., he was senior vice president of marketing for Georgia Power Co., a subsidiary of Southern Co.
Klappa is a 1972 graduate cum laude of the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM), with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications.
In 2011, Klappa received an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree from UWM in recognition of his support for UWM’s growth initiative, his leadership in helping to shape the economic future of southeast Wisconsin through the launch of the Milwaukee 7 regional economic development initiative, and his extensive community involvement.
Klappa is a member of the board of directors of Associated Banc-Corp and Badger Meter Inc. He is co-chair of the Milwaukee 7. In addition, Klappa owns a minority interest in the Milwaukee Bucks – a National Basketball Association franchise.
Currently a member of the Executive Committee (officer) of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), he was MMAC chairman from 2007 to 2009. He also serves on the UWM School of Business Advisory Council.
He served as a director of the Edison Electric Institute for more than a decade and was a trustee for the Electric Power Research Institute from 2008 to 2015. He served as chairman of Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited from 2007 to 2010.
Electric Light & Power magazine named Klappa CEO of the Year in January 2012 — recognizing his role in executing the company’s Power the Future plan. This landmark plan added 50 percent more generating capacity to the company’s operating fleet while cutting emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury by 80 percent.
In September 2012, Corporate Responsibility magazine named Klappa Responsible CEO of the Year for his commitment to transparency, accountability and customer satisfaction.
He was named 2013 Wisconsin Business Leader of the Year by the Harvard Business School Club of Wisconsin, and in 2015, he was named to Institutional Investor magazine’s All-America Executive team for the sixth consecutive year.
Business Worldwide magazine named Klappa CEO of the Year — Electric and Natural Gas Industry for both 2016 and 2018, as well as Growth Strategy CEO of the Year — USA for 2018.
In 2018, Klappa was also named CEO of the Year by CEO Monthly Magazine for the Most Outstanding Energy Delivery Holding Company.