The best time to transition is to go out on top, electric power executive Michael Henderson says, even if you’re not going far.
Henderson is retiring as chief financial officer and executive vice president of the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Corp. and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. after a 36-year run, but he’ll continue to lead the cooperatives’ solar power subsidiary, Today’s Power Inc. of North Little Rock.
“Both companies [AECC and AECI] are in the best financial position they have ever been in,” he told Arkansas Business via email on Tuesday, a few days after the cooperatives announced that Tennessee Valley Authority veteran David Frankenberg would succeed Henderson as CFO and vice president of AECC, the state’s generation and transmission cooperative, and AECI, the statewide electric cooperative services association.
“Serving rural Arkansans has been a career-long mission,” Henderson said, expressing pride for his role in “delivering some of the country’s lowest electricity prices while financially positioning AECC as the nation’s top-ranked G&T utility and AECI as the nation’s largest statewide cooperative.”
Buddy Hasten, president and CEO of both AECC and AECI, congratulated Henderson and welcomed aboard Frankenberg, formerly the TVA’s director of enterprise forecasting and financial planning.
“I want to thank Michael Henderson for his dedication and leadership to AECC and AECI and wish him the best in his future endeavors as CEO of Today’s Power,” Hasten said in a statement. “We welcome David to the AECC/AECI family and look forward to his leadership in driving the continued long-term financial success of both…”
Henderson said his long career prepared him well for leading Today’s Power, which builds smaller utility-scale solar power stations for rural electric cooperatives, businesses, schools and farms. One challenge was balancing needed protections for the utility system while building up distributed energy.
“I understand both the utility business as well as the disruptive energy business,” he said. “This insight allows me to create products to complement both the end user and the host utility.” With his narrowed emphasis on Today’s Power alone, he expects to have “more flexibility to create products and programs to support TPI’s growth and help cooperative members thrive.” One key to that, he said, will be evolution in generation storage, “the future of electricity consumption, including transportation.”
Today’s Power has a talented team and a limitless future, he said. “Our team really amazes me every day,” he said. “Initially, TPI focused on utility-scale solar power systems, then net-metering systems for the commercial industry, and this was followed by the dramatic arrival of combined solar [and] battery energy storage.”
By combining those technologies, the company can “offer microgrid options to help meet the growth of electric vehicles and other smart technologies,” he said. “Today's consumer is more focused on sustainable living combined with saving on energy costs,” a trend Henderson says will never go out of style. “Today's Power’s future includes implementing long-term strategies that will provide customers with options for savings and cost avoidance as rate structures change and net-metering evolves,” he said, referring to the system that credits solar power-generating customers for the excess power they put onto the grid.
As Henderson’s successor, Frankenberg brings experience beyond utility world accounting. He has also held financial leadership roles in the mining and pharmaceutical industries. He has master’s and bachelor’s degrees in accounting from the University of Tennessee as well.
The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise the state’s 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. is the Little Rock cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives.
The cooperative utilities provide electricity to about 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.