Q&A with MGE's New CEO

President and CEO Jeff Keebler sits down to talk energy, community and life outside of work.

Longtime Madisonian Jeff Keebler has a new title—President and CEO of Madison Gas and Electric (MGE). With MGE since 1995, Keebler knows the Madison area well, but knows he may be less familiar to the area's 149,000 electric customers and 154,000 gas customers served by MGE.

He sat down recently to answer some important—as well as some less significant—questions for energy2030together.com.

Q: As a new President and CEO, you likely have little spare time, but what do you like to do outside of work?
Jeff: Well, I have four daughters between the ages of 16 and 9 years old. Their activities keep my wife and me very busy, typically as their chauffeurs.

Aside from their activities, we all really enjoy the outdoors. We try to spend as much time as we can hiking, biking and camping. One of our favorite summer activities is an annual canoe trip on the Wisconsin River. We've been making that trip since the girls were small.

Q: What's a great movie that you've seen recently?
Jeff: My 9-year-old daughter has become a big Star Wars fan, so it has to be Rogue One.

With a chuckle, MGE’s new CEO shows off a household list he made the night before.

With a chuckle, MGE’s new CEO shows off a household list he made the night before.

Q: Are you a "make a list" kind of person?
Jeff: Actually, yes. I do make a lot of lists because I am a planner, but I think it's more the process of making the list that's helpful rather than the list itself.

Q: What was your first job that you were hired and paid to do?
Jeff: When I was 14 years old, I started working as a dishwasher at a local café where I lived in Minnesota. I ended up working there in various roles for a couple of years.

Q: How did you end up working in energy?
Jeff: MGE was my first job out of college. I was initially hired as a gas rate analyst.

Q: Where did you go to college?
Jeff: I attended the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and majored in economics and finance. I later earned a Master of Business Administration from UW-Whitewater.

Q: What did you do at MGE prior to being named President and CEO?
Jeff: I was Senior Vice President of Energy Supply and Planning, which means I had oversight of areas that plan for and purchase electricity and natural gas supplies to meet our customers' short- and long-term needs. I also had responsibility for our Human Resources and Information Technology departments. Previously, I have had responsibility for our customer service area as well.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working in the energy industry?
Jeff: I enjoy that this industry is constantly changing. There are always new technologies on the horizon especially nowadays, which makes it exciting. Today's technologies are making it easier to work more closely with our customers to save energy and be more sustainable.

Many of our customers are involved in pilot programs with us, like our electric vehicle (EV) home charging pilot program and our Shared Solar program. We're working right now on a smart thermostat pilot program that we'll be introducing to customers who have smart thermostats. Technology is rapidly expanding the opportunities to interact with customers differently and to help them be more mindful of how they can be more energy efficient.

I also enjoy working with the people at MGE. We have tremendously talented and dedicated people. They know they're providing a critically important service to our customers who rely on us to keep their lights on, their businesses running and their homes warm. They take our responsibility to this community very seriously. The importance and the complexity of energy are part of what makes it fulfilling work.

Q: What do you want customers to know about your vision for MGE?
Jeff: I was heavily involved in the creation of our Energy 2030 framework, which sets the company's and the community's course for our energy future. We looked to our community for input and customer feedback helped to shape Energy 2030.

The Energy 2030 framework sets our goals in terms of increasing our renewable resources and reducing our carbon emissions. It also demonstrates our commitment to providing all customers the products and services they want in the manner they want them, and that's really important.

The energy world is changing—as a result how we do some things may be changing and how we work with customers may be changing. That's why Energy 2030 is a framework. It sets the course and we have specific goals such as 25% renewables by 2025. But, we'll also work with customers over time and figure out how to meet our objectives as technology continues to evolve and customers' expectations change.

Working to adapt to evolving priorities, expectations and needs is part of being a community energy company for the future. We're your community energy company—it's more than just our brand—it's who we are. Our core business is safe, reliable energy, but we're also deeply committed to our customers—through customer engagement and customer satisfaction—and to our communities.

Q: What are you most proud of working for MGE?
Jeff: I am proud of our involvement in the community and I'm looking forward to more engagement on a personal level in the community.

We have many employees who give their own time to serve on boards or committees or as volunteers with nonprofits. Part of what makes MGE unique is that we're local. Most of our employees also are our customers.

We have our MGE Foundation, which supports hundreds of local organizations every year.

We're far more than a utility services provider, and I'm looking forward to having a deeper role with our customers and in those efforts beyond our core function. It is what makes us more than just a utility, it is what makes us Your Community Energy Company. And that is exciting.

published: Feb-28-2017

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