LINCOLN – Lincoln Electric System CEO Kevin Wailes announced he will retire at the end of 2023. Wailes began working at LES in 2010 and was the third CEO in the organization’s 57-year history. During his tenure, Wailes led the utility through many challenges and opportunities, including safely navigating the pandemic and adopting a goal to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide production from its generation portfolio by 2040.
“This decision is never an easy one to make, and I’m so proud of all we’ve accomplished and the many talented people who serve our community,” said Wailes. “In 13 years as CEO, I have had the opportunity to work with an organization committed to the highest levels of system reliability, financial stability and sustainability, while embracing technology advancement and workforce development.”
The LES Administrative Board will soon execute a nationwide search for the next chief executive officer of the utility. LES Board Chair and CFO of Lincoln Industries Andrew Hunzeker said Wailes’ impact on LES and public power is beyond measure.
“Kevin’s leadership skills and ability to work with key stakeholders collaboratively delivered significant long-term benefits to our community and the energy industry,” said Hunzeker. “Lincoln and the surrounding communities are fortunate to have a leader with his talent and expertise guiding our electric utility. Kevin’s educational process helped the Board immensely when setting the net-zero carbon dioxide production goal.”
Hunzeker continued, “He also led our industry in many critical initiatives, including national mutual assistance programs and cyber and physical security efforts through his co-chair role on the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council.”
Wailes has an extensive record of community and industry service. Prior to joining LES, he spent 23 years at Your Own Utilities, the municipal electric utility serving Tallahassee, Florida – the last 15 years as general manager. Wailes also served as the superintendent of the Lamar Utilities Board in Lamar, Colorado. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Colorado State University and served on the boards of the Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities, the Florida Electric Power Coordinating Group, the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council, the Southern/Florida Reliability Agreement Executive Council, the Florida Municipal Electric Association and the American Public Power Association. He served as a member and co-chair of the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council and on the boards of directors of the Nebraska Power Association, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, and the United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County.