The incoming chief executive officer of Indianapolis-based Citizens Energy Group says cost control and sustainability will be two areas of focus as he assumes leadership at the utility. In July, Jeff Harrison will replace Carey Lykins, who is retiring after nearly 42 years with Citizens. Lykins and Harrison discussed the transition on Inside INdiana Business Television. Lykins cites the “game-changing” acquisition of Indianapolis' water and wastewater utilities and the ongoing Deep Rock Tunnel project as two of the major accomplishments during his tenure.
September 24, 2014
Indianapolis, Ind. — The Citizens Energy Group Board of Directors announced today that President & CEO Carey Lykins will retire on June 30, 2015 after nearly 42 years of service to the Public Trust which provides safe and reliable utility services to the Indianapolis area.
The board also announced it has selected Jeff Harrison to succeed Lykins as President & CEO effective on July 1, 2015. In the interim, Harrison will serve as Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer. Harrison has been Senior Vice President, Engineering & Sustainability since January 2013.
“Carey Lykins is a visionary CEO who has led the transformation of Citizens Energy Group into the diverse utility service company our founders envisioned 127 years ago,” said Dan Appel, President of the Citizens Board of Directors. “Carey's leadership has been the driving force behind unprecedented growth for the Trust as it has remained an industry leader for customer satisfaction and operational excellence.”
Appel added Lykins has also been a visionary leader for the community. “Whether it be serving on the boards of organizations such as Develop Indy and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, or leading successful fundraising campaigns for the United Way's Tocqueville Society and American Heart Association, Carey has always shown a deep commitment to making Indianapolis a better place to live and work.”
In 2011, Lykins spearheaded the successful acquisition of the community's water and wastewater utilities by Citizens. Over the past three years, Lykins' leadership has been instrumental in the successful utility integration process that is improving customer service and yielding annual cost savings benefiting customers.
Legacy of Excellence
“Carey's success as CEO of Citizens Energy Group has been grounded in his personal commitment to doing what is best for employees, customers and the long-term integrity of the Trust's vital utility systems,” said Dan Evans, President of the Citizens Board of Trustees.
Other significant achievements during Lykins' tenure as CEO include:
–Changing the company's name from Citizens Gas & Coke Utility to Citizens Energy Group in 2008 to reflect a more diverse mix of businesses while retaining the company's heritage
–Nearly $1 billion of investments to improve the reliability of the water system and to comply with a federal mandate to reduce sewer overflows polluting area rivers and streams
–Expansion of the Warm Heart Warm Home FoundationTM that helps low-income customers pay utility bills
–Four J.D. Power Awards for being the top mid-sized gas utility in the Midwest for customer satisfaction
–Deepened commitment to diversity reflected in adding diversity as a corporate core value; a more diverse workforce; more than $100 million of annual spending with diverse suppliers; and diversity recognition including the Best of the Best Diversity Award from the Mayor of Indianapolis, and the Indiana Lawyer Diversity Award
–Greater focus on continuous improvement leading to Citizens being named a finalist for the Baldrige National Quality Award in 2011 and 2014; and the Governor's Award from the Partnership for Excellence in 2012 and 2013
–Acquisition of Westfield Utilities, now Citizens Westfield, which provides gas, water and wastewater service to the growing Hamilton County community
–Creation of Kinetrex Energy, which is becoming the Midwest's leading provider of liquefied natural gas
–Continued investments in the Citizens natural gas system which has led to recognition for safety and reliability in independent studies
–Conversion of the Perry K Steam Plant to natural gas to improve competitiveness and environmental compliance
–Expansion of Citizens Community Investment Program with donation of $10 million to non-profit organizations and $4 million in loans to organizations revitalizing neighborhoods and promoting economic development
–Annual Sharing the Dream project in which Citizens employees and community partners have donated more than $700,000 of improvements to seven Indy Parks facilities
Lykins joined Citizens in 1973 as a cashier after receiving a bachelor's degree in finance from IUPUI. Over the years, he progressed through positions of increasing responsibility including Director, Budget & Rates; Vice President, Customer Service; Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer; and Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer before being named President & CEO in 2005.
“I am enormously grateful and honored to have had the opportunity to lead the dedicated employees of Citizens Energy Group,” said Lykins. “Throughout my tenure as CEO, I have worked to sustain the legacy of excellence created by five generations of Citizens employees. I am confident Jeff Harrison will provide the dynamic leadership necessary to ensure Citizens remains a driving force for improved quality of life and economic development in Central Indiana.”
Lykins added that he is most gratified by Citizens' deepened commitments to diversity and community service. “I believe our commitment to creating a more diverse workforce has led to better decisions for the company, and we have added value to our local economy by creating a more diverse supplier base. At the same time, through financial and volunteer support, we have strengthened our commitment to making Indianapolis a better place to live and work.”
Appel said Harrison brings unique qualifications to the Citizens leadership team. “Jeff Harrison has displayed remarkable leadership as Citizens has embarked on unprecedented investments in the community's aging water and wastewater systems. In addition to his extensive utility industry experience, Jeff has always shown great ability to inspire and motivate employees,” said Appel.
Harrison joined Citizens in 2003 as Director of Market Development, and has progressed through positions of increasing responsibility including Vice President, Manufacturing in 2006 and Senior Vice President Capital Program & Engineering in 2011. Prior to joining Citizens, Harrison served in positions of increasing responsibility during 13 years at Indianapolis Power & Light, including Corporate Strategist. Harrison has a bachelor’s of science degree in electrical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and a MBA from Indiana University.
Harrison's volunteer endeavors include board memberships for the Center for Leadership Development, the Indianapolis Zoo, Goodwill Education Initiatives Inc., Marian University, and the YMCA. Harrison is a graduate of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Program, the Hoosier Fellows Program and the Diversity Leadership Academy of Greater Indianapolis.
New Compensation System
In addition to these important leadership changes, the Citizens Board of Directors announced approval of a new executive compensation system. The new system will reduce compensation for Lykins by approximately 32 percent, and the remaining executives between 6 and 12 percent compared to their prior three-year average compensation.
The new system follows extensive research including a benchmarking analysis of executive compensation conducted for the board by a leading consultant. “The board is keenly aware of the need to reduce costs during a time when customer rates must be increased to