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Energized Executive

Alumna grows in her leadership of energy co-op

Suzanne Lane posing

From The Ichabod - Winter 2020

Suzanne Lane’s career in the energy industry has surged in the past year. When the CEO of Kansas Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. announced he was leaving just six months after Lane joined the company, she was chosen to lead the Topeka-based not-for-profit organization. Nineteen years of experience at Westar Energy provided Lane, mba ’01, the knowledge she needed to take the reins as KEPCo’s CEO and executive vice president on Oct. 1, 2018. Less than a year into her new role, the Topeka native jumped at another opportunity to increase her knowledge.

Lane was invited to a three-week nuclear reactor technology program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, to learn more about the safety aspects, benefits and challenges of nuclear energy. She also learned more about its carbon-free aspects and its lower environmental impact compared to other forms of energy. This gave Lane a new perspective she’s shared with KEPCo, which is a joint owner of Wolf Creek Generating Station in Burlington, Kansas, along with Evergy, formerly known as Westar. KEPCo serves 19 member-owner distribution cooperatives that supply power to about 300,000 rural Kansans.

“I’m a strong advocate of nuclear power,” she said. “Walking away from that program as a leader of a company that owns part of a nuclear power plant makes you say, ‘My goodness, we are so lucky to have this important generation asset here in Kansas.’”

Lane, a Seaman High School graduate, attended Fort Hays State for undergraduate work then returned to Topeka to start her career at Westar and get her MBA. Her Washburn education remains top of mind.

“Partnering on projects with students from other industries allowed us to get into theory of the business world and practical applications,” Lane said. “I’ve been able to apply a lot of the things I learned.”

Lane said the most important aspect of furthering her education through world-class programs like the one at MIT is that she gets to implement that knowledge back in her hometown.

“Being able to stay here in the community, give back and be involved has been, and continues to be, a great experience.”

Marching band member in uniform on cover of The Ichabod winter 2020

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. Read the 2019-20 winter edition online and look for it in mailboxes in January.

View past editions

 

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