Electric leader to speak at commencement Dec. 15

December 10, 2013 | Events, UToday
By Cynthia Nowak

Michael G. Morris, chairman of American Electric Power (AEP), will address graduates at The University of Toledo’s fall commencement Sunday, Dec. 15, at 10 a.m. in Savage Arena.

There are 2,215 candidates for degrees from the summer and fall semesters from 12 of the University’s colleges. There are 733 candidates for doctoral, education specialist and master’s degrees, as well as graduate certificates, and 1,482 for bachelor’s and associate degrees.



In the event severe winter weather requires commencement to be postponed, the ceremony would take place Monday, Dec. 16, at 10 a.m. in Savage Arena.

The ceremony will be webcast live at http://video.utoledo.edu.

UT will award Morris an honorary doctor of business administration for leading the charge to update and enlarge the country’s electrical grid.

Morris views his role in the business of generating electricity as extending far beyond a job title. Sharing his thoughts earlier this year as one of the participants in the World Trade Center of New Orleans Executive Speaker Series, he said, “I’ve managed some of the largest utilities in the country — which has been a labor of love for me.”

He added, “In a country like America, the generation of electricity is a foundation of life. It’s a central part of our history.”

His role with American Electric Power — based in Columbus, Ohio, and the largest electricity generating utility in the United States — allows him to lead the company’s efforts to develop an advanced interstate high-voltage transmission system designed to combine wholesale regional power delivery with increased reliability. He’s also taking the lead in transmission line projects with joint-venture partners in five states, and in innovative carbon capture and storage system projects at a number of AEP coal-powered generating plants.

He focuses a great deal of his attention on the development of new intelligent distribution power grid technologies that provide higher service quality, reliability and better control of energy usage for consumers.

The expansion and updating of the interstate electrical grid is something that Morris believes to be of particular importance. As he said during an interview with Forbes magazine, “AEP takes very seriously its responsibility to lead the expansion and development of America’s electric energy backbone. Toward that end, AEP is investing millions of dollars and partnering with other utilities in the development of a more robust interstate network to promote electricity grid reliability and support economic growth. We believe, as do our partners, that development of a ‘transmission superhighway’ is critical to our nation’s growth and security.”

Such efforts have gained Morris accolades from his professional peers and from the national community. He is the 2011 recipient of the United States Energy Award, an honor given annually to an outstanding energy leader in recognition of their leadership initiatives and contributions to the global understanding of energy issues.

Prior to joining AEP in 2004, Morris was chair, president and CEO of Northeast Utilities System and was involved in the formation of ISO-New England, as well as restructuring and retail customer choice in the New England states. Morris also was CEO and president of Consumers Energy and president of CMS Marketing, Services and Trading. Additionally, he was president of Colorado Interstate Gas Co. and executive vice president of marketing, transportation and gas supply for ANR Pipeline Co., both subsidiaries of El Paso Energy. Morris was the founder and president of ANR Gathering Co., one of the first gas marketing companies in the United States.

Morris is past chair of the Edison Electric Institute and the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations. He also serves on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Board, the National Governors Association’s Task Force on Electricity Infrastructure, and the Business Roundtable (chairing the Business Roundtable’s Sustainable Growth Initiative). He serves as a director of the boards of Alcoa, Battelle and the Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., and was appointed to the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents and the Michigan State University College of Law Board of Trustees.

He has committed his time, experience and consummate consensus-building skills to developing the respect of the electricity-generating industry through corporate and public leadership. Morris has supported the work of the United States Energy Association and the World Energy Council and is recognized internationally as a prominent global energy leader.

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