Chairman, president, and chief executive officer, Public Service Enterprise Group
Born: March 19, 1942, in Boston, Massachusetts.
Education: University of Maine, BS, 1964; University of New Haven, MBA, 1976.
Career: Hartford Electric Light Company, 1964–1967, engineer; Millstone Nuclear Power Station, 1967–1976, operating staff; 1976–1978, superintendent; Northeast Utilities, 1978–1980, director of rate regulatory project; 1980–1983, executive vice president and CFO; 1983–1986, president and COO; Public Service Electric and Gas, 1986–1991, chairman and CEO; Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), 1986–, chairman, president, and CEO; PSEG Energy Holdings (formerly Enterprise Diversified Holdings Inc.), 1989–, chairman and CEO.
Address: Public Service Enterprise Group, 80 Park Plaza, Newark, New Jersey 07101; http://www.pseg.com.
■ E. James Ferland served as CEO, president, and chairman of Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) from 1986 up through 2004, making him the longest serving CEO in the energy industry. During his tenure Ferland guided the energy and energy-services company's growth in its home territory of New Jersey and its expansion into emerging markets around the world. Industry analysts praised Ferland's guidance of PSEG, which earned about $800 million a year in the early 2000s, beating the Standard & Poor's electric utilities index by 2.2 percent annually.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Maine, Ferland began his career in 1964 as an engineer with the Hartford Electric Light Company, a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities located in Connecticut. In 1967 he joined the initial operating staff of the Millstone Nuclear Power Station and was named station superintendent in 1976, the same year he received his MBA from the University of New Haven. With his sights set on a future in management, Ferland completed the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration's Program for Management Development.
In 1978 Ferland was assigned to Northeast's corporate headquarters as director of the rate regulatory project. Two years later he became executive vice president and chief financial officer, rising to the role of president and chief operating officer in 1983. He also served as director of Northeast subsidiary companies and was a director of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corporation, the Yankee Atomic Electric Company, and the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company.
On July 1, 1986, Ferland was named chairman of the board, president, and CEO of Public Service Enterprise Group, which had been created in 1985 as a holding company for the then 82-year-old Public Service Corporation. Ferland also became chairman and CEO of Public Service Electric and Gas, PSEG's principal subsidiary, and held this position until 1991. Three years after Ferland took over the reins at PSEG, Enterprise Diversified Holdings (EDHI) was formed to begin consolidation of the company's unregulated businesses. In 1989 Ferland was named chairman and CEO of EDHI as well, which later changed its name to PSEG Energy Holdings.
Over the next decade Ferland would oversee PSEG's growth in the northeastern United States power market and its eventual expansion overseas. By 1990 Ferland was guiding the company's development of independent power-plant projects nationwide. In 1995 Ferland and PSEG announced a complete corporate reorganization that would include the creation of a ventures and services corporation. He oversaw the establishment of separate fossil-generation, electric and gas transmission and distribution, and customer-services business units within the Public Service Electric and Gas company, with the heads of each of these units reporting directly to him.
Throughout the 1990s Ferland had kept a steady hand in guiding the company's expansion, but in 1999 he faced a revolution in the energy business. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities began restructuring the way his Newark-based utility holding company would be able to do business in the state's soon-to-be deregulated energy marketplace. Ferland realized that much of the company's future was no longer solely in his hands. Anthony S. Twyman of the Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News reported that during an April 1999 shareholders meeting Ferland admitted to those in attendance that he and his colleagues would be "discussing our company's future without benefit of the most important regulatory decision in our nearly one-hundred-year history" (April 20, 1999). Ferland did know, however, that as of August 1, 1999, New Jersey would institute customer choice of electricity suppliers and mandate an immediate rate cut of 5 percent to be followed by an additional 5 percent reduction in 2003.
Despite the uncertainties and adjustments that the company faced as a result of deregulation, in 2000 Ferland continued expansion efforts, directing the company to purchase plants in the Midwest and one in Albany, New York. The company's global expansion moved forward with work on plants in Poland, Taiwan, and Tunisia, in addition to plants in such places as India, Peru, and Argentina. In 2001 Ferland inaugurated the Central Eolica Alto Baguales wind-turbine project in Coyhaique, Chile. The project, which used state-of-the-art wind-turbine technology, would provide more than 16 percent of the electric needs of a rural area of southern Chile. The three highly computerized units represented the first wind projects in Chile; they displaced diesel generation, helping to improve air quality. Ferland flew down for the operation's opening and, in a company press release on E-Wire , stated, "I am excited to be here for the launch of this exciting project and to illustrate PSEG's commitment to bringing reliable, safe, and environmentally sound energy to customers around the world" (November 14, 2001).
Ferland set his sights on expanding the company's limited interests in six generating plants in California as part of his effort to transform PSEG from a tightly regulated New Jersey utility into a company with growth potential mostly outside the state's borders. His strategic plan built on the company's diverse efforts in the energy field to allow for multiple revenue streams. By 2002 Ferland had led PSEG to become a worldwide diversified energy company serving five million gas and electric distribution customers in North and South America and operating or building more electric-generation plants in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa. The diversification, noted Ferland, helped the company to balance the negative impact of lower earnings by some of the company's subsidiaries. He pointed out that reduced earnings in Argentina due to a warm winter in 2001 were counterbalanced by earnings from generation in the United States, trading operations, and other international investments.
In an April 2003 shareholders meeting, Ferland commented on the company's attractive mix of energy businesses and said that the company had performed well overall in the turbulent energy market. He pointed out that the company was able to avoid many of the severe problems facing other energy companies, citing liquidity issues as a prime example. As reported by PR Newswire , Ferland noted, "The steps we took to strengthen our balance sheet, along with strong cash flows, have allowed continued access to credit on favorable terms" (April 15, 2003).
At the end of 2002 the company's stock was valued at $32.10 a share; by the end of 2003 its value had risen by 36 percent to close out at $43.80 per share. Ferland admitted that some of the company's growth decisions had not worked out, especially international ventures in Argentina, Brazil, and India, which reduced profits from overseas investments. On the other hand, his decision to keep the company's power-generating plants in the Northeast was a good decision as nearly every other utility in the area was selling theirs. Ferland noted that times remained challenging for all energy companies, including PSEG, as they faced such pressures as the over-supply of power plants, volatile energy prices, and highly demanding capital markets. Overall, as reported by Kevin G. DeMarrais in the Bergen County (N.J.) Record , Ferland noted, "By almost any measure, it was a remarkably successful year for us" (April 21, 2004).
Under Ferland's guidance PSEG grew to produce more power more efficiently than at any other time in the company's one-hundred-year history. He led the company to become the first to sign up for the 1993 Climate Change Challenge and, as a result, helped the company to achieve the goal of stabilizing its greenhouse-gas emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000. He also directed PSEG Fossil, a subsidiary of PSEG's unregulated U.S. generation company, to enter into a voluntary agreement with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions rates at its New Jersey–based fossil-fuel power plants by 15 percent (from a 1990 baseline) by the year 2007. He also made the company a charter member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Leader Partnership, a greenhouse-gas emissions control initiative.
Nevertheless, Ferland had to step up and meet some criticism concerning the company's three-plant Salem/Hope Creek nuclear power complex. In January 2004 federal regulators asked PSEG to address what they called "work environment" concerns that could possibly have led to safety problems at the plant. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission was primarily responding to complaints from a number of workers that management did not want to listen to employees' safety and operational concerns. Ferland quickly issued a statement after receiving a letter from the commission outlying their concerns and noted that the company had made several management changes to correct the situation. As reported by Terrence Dopp of the New Jersey Express-Times , Ferland noted that the company had already begun to address some of these issues before being contacted by the commission and added, "We must work diligently to continue this improvement in the workplace environment and believe we have the resources and organization to do so" (January 31, 2004).
Ferland kept a low profile concerning his business and personal life as well as his approach to management. He was known, however, for his commitment to worker diversity within PSEG and met with the Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. in 2003 to discuss ways the company could promote further diversity.
Ferland showed a consistent ability to adapt to the changing nature of the energy business and focused much of his efforts on running a tight ship. As he told Mark Hand in a 2002 interview for Public Utilities Fortnightly , he had reduced the number of people needed to run the company's generation operations by 40 percent over the preceding 10 years, and "other parts of the country could benefit from similar kinds of competitive pressures" (June 1, 2002).
Ferland often reiterated his goal of making PSEG a diversified company and commented that he believed the retail marketplace for energy companies would continue to face a tough market for some time. Energy analysts noted that Ferland deserved strong recognition for being among the best utility CEOs and strategists. In an article from PR Newswire , Ferland summed up his business philosophy this way: "In an uncertain world, you can be assured we will continue to manage our business for the long haul, with a strong, ongoing commitment to shareholder value" (April 15 2003).
Ferland stated that his short-term focus on PSEG's foreign subsidiaries would stress improvement on capital return, as he halted new investments overseas and looked to sell international plants. In the domestic sector he focused more on developing long-term contracts for PSEG's power-generating plants to supply electricity. In addition to his duties at PSEG, Ferland was active on several boards, including The HSB Group, Foster Wheeler Corporation, the Nuclear Energy Institute, and the Committee for Economic Development. He served on the board of the United Way of Tri-State and chaired the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and the Public Affairs Research Institute of New Jersey.
See also entry on Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. in International Directory of Company Histories .
Demarrais, Kevin G., "Sustaining Last Year's Gains Is Top Challenge for PSEG," Bergen County (N.J.) Record , April 21, 2004.
Dopp, Terrence, "Feds Criticize PSEG on Nuclear Plant Safety," New Jersey Express-Times , January, 31, 2004, http://www.unplugsalem.org/013104%20salem%20press%20coverage.htm .
Hand, Mark, "The CEO Power Forum," Public Utilities Fortnightly , June 1, 2002, p. 42.
Johnson, Tom, "Jackson Meets with PSEG on Diversity," Newark Star-Ledger , August 21, 2003.
"PSEG Chairman Inaugurates Wind Farm in Chile," E-Wire , http://www.ewire.com/display.cfm/Wire_ID/826 .
"PSEG Chairman Tells Shareholders 'In 2002's Tough Market, Company Had Solid Results,'" PR Newswire , April 15, 2003.
Twyman, Anthony S., "New Jersey Utility Firm's Shareholders Meet on Eve of Critical Ruling," Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News , April 20, 1999.