Meet the 10 highest paid utility CEOs

Credit: iStock


Compensation of utility CEOs is one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry, with the information publicly available online via a few simple clicks of the mouse.

What is less of a secret -- less obvious -- is why some CEOs earn the salaries and total compensation packages they do.

For example, although PG&E Corporation's CEO makes a cool $9 million-plus, he turned down additional compensation (performance-based) because he felt he had not put enough time in at the company.

In another example, in 2011, Dominion Resources' CEO received his first base salary increase in three years.

And did you know that Duke Energy's CEO receives no base salary at all? That's right -- nada.

It's amazing what can be uncovered when you delve beneath the surface. The following is a list of executive compensation for the 10 highest paid CEOs in the utility industry. The salary and compensation data was drawn from publicly available U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Total compensation includes base salary, annual incentive awards and long-term incentive awards like stocks, options and non-equity incentives and excludes other elements of pay such as changes in pension value and non-qualified deferred compensation earnings.

Company: PPL Corp.
Headquarters: Allentown, PA
View from the Top: William H. Spence, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Age: 55
Time as CEO:  Spence has been CEO since November 2011.
2011 Salary:  $788,951
Total 2011 Compensation:  $5,120,325

Notable:  Spence was elected CEO on November 17, 2011 and became Chairman on April 1, 2012. He now serves as Chairman, President and CEO.

Although Spence's total direct compensation was positioned significantly below market for comparable CEOs, Spence received a 6 percent increase in recognition of his contributions to the success of PPL operations, including the energy marketing, trading and generation operations, as well as in the company's energy delivery operations and oversight of the acquisition and integration of the Kentucky operations. He received an additional 11.6 percent increase in connection with his promotion to President and an approximately 22 percent increase in connection with his promotion to CEO. This brought his base salary within the competitive range for his position.

Spence replaced James H. Miller who had an annual base salary of $590,160 and earned a total compensation package of $12,053,378.

Sempra Energy
Headquarters:  San Diego, CA
View from the Top: Debra L. Reed, Chief Executive Officer
Age:  55
Time as CEO:  Reed became CEO on June 27, 2011.
2011 Salary:  $811,907
Total 2011 Compensation:  $8,179,678

Notable:  Reed was promoted to Chief Executive Officer from Executive Vice President on June 27, 2011, succeeding 64-year-old Donald Felsinger who remains Chairman of the Board and a member of the company's executive leadership team. In 2011, he earned a salary of $1,217,500 and a total compensatory package of $11,773,523.

From 2006 to 2010, Reed was President and CEO of San Diego Gas and Electric and Southern California Gas Company, Sempra Energy's regulated utilities. Reed is a 34-year employee of the Sempra Energy family of companies.

Reed currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and on the Board of Directors of Halliburton Company.


Duke Energy Corporation
Headquarters:  Charlotte, NC
View from the Top: James E. Rogers, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Age:  64
Time as CEO:  Rogers has been CEO since Duke's merger with Cinergy Corp. in 2006.
2011 Salary:  $0
Total 2011 Compensation:  $8,780,258

Notable:  Duke does not pay its executive officers a base salary nor are they eligible for cash bonuses. Instead, compensation is contingent upon achieving specific performance results.

Duke's employment agreement with Rogers, effective February 19, 2009, says that Rogers is not to receive a base salary and is generally not eligible to participate in Duke's incentive compensation and benefit plans, including cash bonus programs. However, he is permitted to participate in Duke's health plans at his expense, as well as certain fringe benefits.

Rogers' compensation is higher than the compensation of other executive officers because market conditions dictate that a CEO with Rogers' skills and experience in the utility industry receive higher compensation than Duke's other executive officers. The main reasons for differences in compensation for each executive officer are competitive market conditions and individual performance.

On January 8, 2011, Rogers entered into a term sheet with Duke in connection with the announcement of the Progress merger, which amended the employment agreement to reflect the changes to his duties and responsibilities. Following the merger, Rogers would serve as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Duke Energy and cease to be President and CEO. It also provides for Rogers' employment term to end on the second anniversary of the completion of the merger with Progress Energy or on December 31, 2013 -- whichever is later.


PG&E Corporation
Headquarters:  San Francisco, CA
View from the Top: Anthony F. Earley, Jr., Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer
Age:  62
Time as CEO: Earley has been CEO since September 13, 2011.
2011 Salary:  $378,788
Total 2011 Compensation:  $9,541,387

Notable:  Earley replaced Peter A. Darby who retired as CEO effective April 30, 2011. Earley's official start date as CEO was September 13, 2011. Earley was eligible for a prorated 2011 STIP payment, but he elected to forgo the compensation because he was with the company for only a portion of the STIP performance period.

Base pay at PG&E Corporation is generally between 15 percent above and 15 percent below (the "15 percent band") the market median, while taking into consideration other factors relative to establishing individual pay levels. Base salary falls within a range of 12 to 40 percent of total compensation depending on officer level, as it is tied directly to PG&E Corporation's performance for shareholders through short-term and long-term incentives.

For 2011, an average 2.8 percent base salary increase was approved for officers.

Prior to joining PG&E, Earley held executive positions at DTE Energy Company and Long Island Lighting Company. Earley has extensive knowledge and experience across all aspects of the energy industry, including electric and gas utility operations, nuclear energy, and energy policy and regulation, as well as executive management, business, and civic leadership.


Xcel Energy Inc.
Headquarters: Minneapolis, MN
View from the Top: Benjamin G.S. Fowke III, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO
Age: 53
Time as CEO: Fowke has been CEO since August 2011.
2011 Salary:  $986,979
Total 2011 Compensation:  $9,676,420

Notable:  Fowke's base salary increased from $690,000 in 2010 to nearly $987,000 as a reflection of his new CEO role.

Fowke replaced Richard C. Kelly, Xcel's previous Chairman and CEO, who resigned on August 24, 2011 and retired on September 16, 2011. In 2011, Kelly had a base salary of $890,152 and earned a total compensation package of $6,376,165.

Before becoming CEO, Fowke held a variety of executive positions at Xcel, including President and COO, Executive Vice President, and Vice President and CFO.

Currently, Fowke serves on the boards of a number of industry groups, including the American Gas Association, Nuclear Energy Institute, Electric Power Research Institute, Edison Electric Institute, and the Institute for Energy Efficiency, among others.


Filed Under