Another Power Giant’s CEO Is Retiring: Entergy’s Leo Denault

Entergy Corp.’s chairman and CEO Leo P. Denault will retire in 2023, ending a decade-long role as the head of the New Orleans–headquartered power generating giant. Denault will be succeeded by Andrew “Drew” Marsh, Entergy’s current executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Denault, 62, was appointed Entergy’s chairman and CEO in 2013, taking over for J. Wayne Leonard, who retired after a service period that was the longest in Entergy’s history. Marsh will succeed Denault as CEO on Nov. 1, 2022, though Denault will continue to lead the board as executive chairman until his retirement. 

News of Entergy’s leadership change follows news that American Electric Power’s (AEP’s) long-serving chairman, president, and CEO, Nick Akins, will step down as CEO on Jan. 1, 2023.  Longtime Southern Co. CEO Tom Fanning is also reportedly planning to announce his retirement. 

Leo P. Denault, Entergy Corp.’s chairman and chief executive officer, will retire in 2023 following 23 years of service to the company and a 40-year career in the energy industry. As part of an orderly and planned leadership succession process, the Entergy board of directors elected Andrew “Drew” Marsh, executive vice president and chief financial officer, to succeed Denault as CEO, effective Nov. 1, 2022 Courtesy: Entergy

Denault joined Entergy in 1999 as vice president of Corporate Development, and in 2002 he assumed responsibility for the areas of strategic planning, the office of the chief risk officer, and strategic pricing and transmission services. He became executive vice president and chief financial officer in February 2004. 

Denault has led the company through a definitive period of transformation during which the power industry grappled with multiple disruptions, including more stringent environmental policies, decentralization and electrification, a boost in shale gas production, a proliferation of renewable power and battery storage, and an increasing embrace of digitalization.

Entergy operates primarily through two business segments: Utility and Entergy Wholesale Commodities. Its utility segment includes the generation, transmission, distribution, and sale of electric power in portions of Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana (including the City of New Orleans), and the operation of a small natural gas distribution business. The Entergy Wholesale Commodities business segment includes the ownership, operation, and decommissioning of nuclear power plants located in the northern U.S. and the sale of the electric power produced by its operating plants to wholesale customers. Entergy Wholesale Commodities also provides services to other nuclear power plant owners and owns interests in non-nuclear power plants that sell the electric power produced by those plants to wholesale customers.

During Denault’s tenure as CEO, Entergy notably executed a multi-year strategy to exit the merchant power generation business, transforming the company into a leaner customer-focused integrated energy company. When Denault took the helm in 2013, the firm held six merchant nuclear power plants: Vermont Yankee in Vermont; Pilgrim in Massachusetts; the two Indian Point units in New York; Palisades in Michigan; and FitzPatrick in New York. All have since been shuttered except for FitzPatrick, which Entergy sold to Exelon in March 2017.

The company has also made strides in transforming its 30-GW power generating fleet to meet net-zero carbon emissions goals, which it announced in 2019. The company has told POWER its sustainability efforts are rooted in its 2002-adopted “visionary statement” to commit to an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable business. The strategy’s primary objective is to address risks and cater to “four key stakeholders”: customers, employees, communities, and owners.

According to Stuart Levenick, Entergy’s lead independent director, Denault built and led Entergy’s “experienced team that has consistently executed an orderly business strategy with solid underlying fundamentals, including a robust customer base, a strong financial position, a constructive regulatory environment, strong community partnerships, a talented, diverse workforce, and a world-class storm restoration organization,” he said. Denault’s efforts have “strengthened the business and positioned Entergy well for the future,” he added.

Marsh, 50, joined Entergy in 1998 and served in a series of financial planning and strategy roles. These include vice president of Planning and Financial Communications, where he oversaw a large organization responsible for executing commercial operations for the Entergy utility operating companies. Marsh was named executive vice president and chief financial officer in 2013, Entergy said.

“I am both grateful and honored by the confidence the board has placed in me, and I’m honored to follow in my colleague and friend Leo Denault’s footsteps,” said Marsh in a statement. “I will uphold Entergy’s values and the strategy that he has instilled in our leadership team. I look forward to advancing our We Power Life vision as we continue our journey of becoming the premier utility for everyone.”

Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel@POWERmagazine).

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