Michael G. Morris,chairman and CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power (AEP), has wonthe Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI’s) Distinguished Leadership Award by his industry peers for his 23 years of exemplary service as an electric utility CEO.
“We take great pleasure in giving this award to Mike Morris, whose contributions to the industry have been nothing short of remarkable,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “His accomplishments throughout his career as a utility executive have left an indelible imprint on the sector, and his dedication to his shareholders and customers has never wavered.”
The award, established to recognize outstanding individual achievement, was presented during EEI’s fall board of directors meeting. Morris, who has announced his retirement as AEP’s CEO in November, is only the third executive to receive the award.
Noting that running one of the nation’s largest electric companies itself is an enormous undertaking–AEP serves about 5.3 million customers in 11 states and owns the country’s largest transmission system–Kuhn highlighted Morris’ contributions reaching far beyond the company’s service territory.
“Mike deftly served as EEI chairman from 2005-2006, a period that coincided with enactment of the sweeping Energy Policy Act of 2005,” Kuhn said. “Yet perhaps his greatest contribution to our sector stems directly from Mike’s solid temperament. He’ll always tell you what he thinks, and he isn’t one to mince words. But he is equally adept at seeking out common ground on difficult issues in a manner that keeps our industry together when it counts the most.”
John W. Rowe, chairman and CEO of Chicago-based Exelon Corp., is also a past chairman of EEI. He was the first recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award.
“For 15 years, in two different companies, in more than a dozen states with very different agendas, Mike Morris has been an indefatigable spokesman for his company and for our industry,” Rowe said. “He has honored our industry and richly deserves our highest recognition.”
David M. Ratcliffe is former chairman, president and CEO of Atlanta-based Southern Co., a past EEI chairman and the second recipient of the award.
“Mike has been a great friend and mentor and is one of this industry’s truly outstanding leaders,” Ratcliffe said. “Always knowledgeable and ready to engage, his passion and enthusiasm for this industry make him one of our most credible spokespersons. We are fortunate to have had his wisdom and leadership over many years and we are better for it. Thank you, Mike.”
Morris joined AEP as chairman, president and CEO Jan. 1, 2004. During his leadership of AEP, Morris has refocused the company on its domestic utility business and championed development of new technologies to reduce emissions from coal-fueled power generation, including operating the world’s first integrated carbon capture and sequestration project at a working coal-fueled power plant. In addition, Morris has worked to advance development of an interstate, high-voltage transmission system in the United States to enhance grid reliability and efficiently transport bulk power.
Before joining AEP, Morris was chairman, president and CEO of Northeast Utilities System from 1997 to 2003, where he led the company during its sale of the Millstone Station nuclear plant, a merger with Yankee Energy System Inc., and the acquisition of Connecticut Valley Electric Co.
Morris also was president and CEO of Consumers Energy, principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, and president of CMS Marketing, Services and Trading. He also was president of Colorado Interstate Gas Co. and executive vice president of marketing, transportation and gas supply for ANR Pipeline Co., both subsidiaries of El Paso Energy. In addition, Morris was the founder and president of ANR Gathering Co., one of the first gas marketing companies in the United States.
Morris is past chairman of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations. He also serves on the U.S. Department of Energy’s electricity advisory board, the National Governors Association’s Task Force on Electricity Infrastructure, and the Business Roundtable (chairing the Business Roundtable’s Sustainable Growth Initiative). Morris is chairman of the Columbus Downtown Development Corp. and Capitol South. He serves as a director of the boards of Alcoa, Battelle, and The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. He is past chairman of the board of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association and the Ohio Business Roundtable. He was recently reappointed to the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents and is a trustee of the MSU College of Law.
Born in Fremont, Ohio, Morris graduated from Eastern Michigan University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology. He served on the board of regents at Eastern Michigan University from 1997-2004. In 1995, he received the university’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. During his graduate years, he was commander of the ROTC Brigade. After he graduated in 1973, he worked in the environmental department of Commonwealth Associates, where he prepared environmental impact statements for electrical utility transmission lines, natural gas and oil pipelines, and power plants.
Morris received a law degree, cum laude, from the Detroit College of Law and is a member of the Michigan Bar Association.
The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) is the association of U.S. shareholder-owned electric companies. EEI members serve 95 percent of the ultimate customers in the shareholder-owned segment of the industry and represent 70 percent of the U.S. electric power industry. EEI also has more than 65 international electric companies as affiliate members, and more than 170 industry suppliers and related organizations as associate members.