As EVP and Chief Financial Officer of Oglethorpe Power Corporation, a $14 billion SEC filing electric generation cooperative, Betsy Higgins has had the opportunity to engage in many initiatives to support Oglethorpe Power’s customers in the rapidly evolving energy landscape. Her peers recently nominated her for our Preeminent CFO of the Year Award, and after speaking with her CEO, we can see why.
President and CEO Mike Smith considers Betsy a key member of the executive team. What he sees in Betsy is a leadership style within the organization that garners the respect of the employees. “Everyone appreciates her for who she is, what she does, and exactly how she does it,” said Smith. She is honest and open with a personality and communication style that shows a caring interest. Her strong analytical skills paired with a Georgia Tech engineering degree helped her rapidly rise through the industry to the VP level at a fairly young age. She also received an MBA from Georgia State after attending classes in the evenings while working full time.
Oglethorpe Power has experienced tremendous growth in assets throughout Betsy’s tenure as CFO, growing from approximately $5 billion in assets in 2005 to more than $14 billion in 2021. The company has acquired four generating plants, with another just announced, and is a 30 percent owner in the new nuclear units (Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4) under construction near Augusta, GA. Oglethorpe Power also supports a sister company, Green Power EMC, with a growing solar energy portfolio. This growth has presented both challenges and opportunities for Betsy and her team related to financing, customer rates, and communication with customers and the financial community. Betsy excels at honest and skillful communication of complex issues. Even the rating agencies love her for her communication and relationship-building skills, as she anticipates exactly what they need.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Betsy about her role at Oglethorpe Power. She led with, “Transparency Builds Trust. Overcommunicate and provide more information than they might care to look at.” This is particularly true with the Vogtle Project. Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 will be the first new nuclear units built in the United States in the last three decades. Once complete, the Vogtle site will produce enough safe, reliable, affordable electricity to power 1 million Georgia homes and businesses. With a budget of $7.5 billion and a 30 percent stake in the project, Betsy and her team built a strong relationship with the Department of Energy to finance a portion of the project. Oglethorpe secured more than $4 billion in loans from the Department of Energy and has raised additional capital from institutional bond investors in the capital markets.
Betsy cares deeply about the success of Oglethorpe Power. In her spare time, she develops talent and serves as a mentor. Oglethorpe Power has programs to develop high potential candidates early, and when it comes to selecting a mentor, Betsy is at the top of the list. She also serves as a mentor with Pathbuilders, a development program for high potential women, and has mentored graduate students at Georgia State University. She was recently honored to become a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta, and also serves on the advisory board for FM Global, an insurance company in the energy industry.