WEC Energy Group

Robert “Bert” Garvin, WEC Energy Group

Robert “Bert” Garvin

Regulatory Relationships

Editors’ Note

Robert “Bert” Garvin was appointed Senior Vice President - External Affairs of Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Energy Corporation, now named WEC Energy Group, in April 2011. Prior to joining the Wisconsin Energy leadership team, Garvin served as Vice President and General Counsel of American Transmission Co. Earlier, he was Vice President - Regulatory Affairs for NextEra Energy Resources. He was also previously a member of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) and served as a director of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, chairing the association’s nuclear waste subcommittee. Garvin also served in the Wisconsin Army National Guard and is an Iraq war veteran. Garvin holds Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

How do you define your role and its many components?

I have overall responsibility for our regulatory and legislative affairs at the federal, state, and local level. All of these levels of government have legislative and regulatory authority over our company ranging from the rates we charge our customers to the level and location of the infrastructure we build to support our customers’ needs.

As a regulated gas and electric utility, we constantly are interacting with public officials. Our external affairs team is made up of a very diverse group of individuals who work extremely hard on developing relationships and advocating our position on various issues with public officials. As a regulated utility with an obligation to serve customers across four different states, it’s critical that they understand our priorities, and that we understand theirs.

With our acquisition of Integrys, we’re now in 23 different congressional districts. Our philosophy at WEC Energy Group is that relationships need to be cultivated, cared for, and communicated with on a regular basis, and that’s what we strive to do.

In order to be successful, any executive in my role has to make a long-term commitment to developing strong GR and regulatory teams. Our folks have forged long-lasting relationships with everyone from congressmen to town chairmen where we serve.

Within that dialogue, is it challenging to find common ground?

There is common ground on the need to replace aging infrastructure, and that is a challenge for all of us who provide gas and electric services.

Chicago is a good example – the vintage of some of the pipes we’re replacing are of the Civil War-era.

How important has it been to integrate the team from the merger into your team?

It’s also been a great experience as we learn from each other and discover how to best work together. We all share the same goal – putting the best talent on our team on a particular task over a broader footprint.

What are the key regulatory issues as you look to the future?

In Wisconsin and in other states where we serve, cost recovery remains an important issue. It is a challenge for all of us in our business. We need to replace aging infrastructure in a low-demand environment and our regulatory group is responsible for obtaining cost recovery for those investments. That is a challenge in any jurisdiction.

Lastly, the changing nature of our industry means regulation never entirely matches the realities of the market nor the needs of the company and customer since they are always evolving.•