When former Naval Officer Anthony F. Earley Jr. was named the new CEO, Chairman and President of the Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation of California in August of 2011, he was lauded as one of the most experienced power-industry veterans, and just the man to turn around the company’s failing fortunes.
Prior to his time at PG&E, Mr. Earley was chairman and CEO of DTE Energy and led that company through the notorious Detroit blackout which cut off power to almost 55 million people in 2003. For his pivotal and public role in the aftermath, Mr. Earley was named a Michiganian of the Year for 2003 by The Detroit News.
At a time when companies were scrambling to understand and fix the problems that had occurred during the blackout, Mr. Earley was a visible and calming presence during the blackout. In the first three days of the emergency, Mr. Earley held several press conferences, reassuring customers and keeping the public up-to-date on the progress. Then-Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm, referred to him as a “calming influence” in the crises and said that Mr. Earley proved himself to be a reliable leader. The media, other public officials, and the general public all praised his honesty and quick response to the crisis. For his own part, Mr. Earley, credited his Navy experience, with time on a nuclear submarine, and in particular a Soviet torpedo exercise, for his poise under stress.
Mr. Earley graduated from the University of Notre Dame with an undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree in physics and two graduate degrees, a Master of Science in engineering and a Juris Doctor degree, then served as an officer in the U.S. Navy for five years. He was stationed as a Lieutenant aboard the USS Hawksbill, a nuclear submarine, from 1971-1976, and served as the chief engineer officer.
After completing his tour of active duty, Mr. Earley worked as an attorney for a few years, and then entered the utility business as the president and COO of Long Island Lighting Co., and then as the president and COO of the Detroit Edison energy company, before joining its parent company, DTE Energy, as chairman and CEO. At DTE, Mr. Earley made substantial progress in his efforts to diversify the company, expanding it from electric-only to providing both gas and electric services. He also made forays into renewable energy sources, and in 2004, over 40% of DTE’s earnings were based on non-regulated ventures and emergent technology.
In his position at PG&E he continues to advocate progressive forms of energy and is directly involved in the development of national policies on energy, the environment, and climate change issues. The Board at PG&E specifically requested that he help the company continue their leadership role in addressing climate change issues. In 2005 and 2006, Mr. Earley served as chairman for the Nuclear Energy Institute and continues as an advocate to revitalize the nuclear industry in the United States.
Mr. Earley serves on the Board of Directors of Ford Motor Company, the MASCO Corporation, and the Advisory board for the College of Engineering for the University of Notre Dame, and is Chairman of the Board of Henry Ford Health Systems.
Image Credit: https://www.wsj.com/articles/utilities-adapt-to-a-new-era-1427770857