SMECO newsletter

volume 66 - issue 11 - November 2016

New Managing Director named

SMECO recently named Christopher Norton as the cooperative’s new Managing Director of Electric Operations and Construction. Norton, who starts his new role this month, is currently Electric Operations Manager of Major Projects at We Energies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We Energies is the trade name of Wisconsin Electric Power Company and Wisconsin Gas LLC, utility subsidiaries of WEC Energy Group.

Norton joined We Energies as a Quality Assurance Engineer in 1989. By progressing through various positions, he has gained wide-ranging experience in engineering, design, budgeting, supervising, and managing teams. Most recently, as the Manager of Major Projects, Norton collaborated with asset management personnel to prioritize and schedule projects, and he managed overhead personnel, as well as overhead and underground contractors, to implement the utility’s $170 million major project work plan.

As an Electric Operations Manager for customer field operations, Norton supervised all aspects of the overhead, underground, and trouble shooter resources required to safely provide reliable service to customers in the northern area of the utility’s service territory. He has managed the Electric Distribution Control Center for We Energies, where he emphasized operational reliability and emergency response capabilities. Norton was responsible for all the functions of the control center—which provides service to more than one million customers—including compliance with safety rules and regulations.

Earlier in his career, Norton supervised construction projects, including a $100 million steam generator replacement, a project to add a diesel generator, and a nuclear plant service water upgrade. As a team leader, he has established work group goals, implemented major project work plans, managed financial resources, monitored safety performance, and evaluated work processes and procedures. Norton also worked extensively with the IBEW Local 2150 bargaining unit personnel.

Norton’s extensive experience with the many aspects of successfully managing the operations side of the electric utility—from underground and overhead distribution, to vehicles and mobile data systems—is impressive. His ability to work with regulators and stakeholders, and his knowledge and understanding of the importance of good communications with employees and customers, provide him with a solid foundation for serving SMECO in his new role.

Norton began his career at Boston-based Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation, where, as a Senior Inspector, he trained and supervised the inspectors at Florida Power and Light’s Turkey Point Nuclear Plant. He has a Master of Business Administration degree from Barry University in Florida and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Engineering from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. He is also a Registered Professional Engineer in the state of Wisconsin.

Norton is filling the position most recently held by William Lawman, whose career at SMECO spanned 43 years. Lawman, who retired in June, grew up in Chapel Point and began working at the cooperative in 1973 as a groundman apprentice in the Charles-Prince George’s region. He progressed through the ranks as a lineman, general foreman, district engineering supervisor, district manager, and distribution construction manager. As head of electric operations and construction, Lawman helped transform SMECO’s service regions into a solid, organized team. Lawman has also served his community as an emergency volunteer for more than 40 years at the Cobb Island Volunteer Fire Department, where he currently holds the office of president. He received a Firefighter of the Year award for saving his grandfather from a burning house in November 1972.