The board of directors for Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) has unanimously selected Terry Rubenthaler as its next president and chief executive officer (CEO). Rubenthaler currently serves as MEC's chief operating officer (COO) and will take over on October 1, 2024. He succeeds Robert Hance, who will retire in September. 

The official search began in January, shortly after Hance announced his retirement. The MEC board’s executive search committee worked with EnerVision, a consulting firm for electric utilities, on recruiting and screening candidates. The prospect pool was initially narrowed down to a group that participated in a series of interviews with the board. The board made its decision in mid-June.

“We had an impressive pool of candidates, and the decision was not an easy one," said Clarence "Topper" Barth, MEC board chairperson. "However, Terry’s leadership and unmatched understanding of our business model, mission, operations, and infrastructure made him the top pick. We are proud of his dedication to making MEC the best it can be both for customers and in our industry." 

Rubenthaler is a registered professional engineer with over 30 years of experience in the electric utility industry. He earned a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from the University of Nebraska in 1990, after which he took a role as an electrical engineer with Dawson Public Power District in Lexington, Nebraska. He came to MEC in 1995 and has held several leadership roles over the years. In 2015, he was tapped to serve as chief technology officer (CTO) when MEC launched its fiber project. In 2022, he was promoted to his current role of COO. Rubenthaler currently lives in Niles, Michigan, with his wife, Gina. They have three children and three grandchildren.  

Rubenthaler currently oversees MEC’s electrical and fiber operations. He recently led the implementation of a complex two-way fiber communications system on MEC’s electric grid to improve infrastructure monitoring and reduce the impact of outages. Additionally, he oversaw the design and construction of fiber internet and phone service for electric customers and for the major expansion of fiber internet outside of MEC’s electric service territory. Rubenthaler also played a pivotal role in securing broadband construction funding from the Federal Communications Commission, including $37 million from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund reverse auction. Most recently, he managed MEC’s efforts to partner with over 40 townships and three Michigan counties to secure funding from the state of Michigan for broadband expansion.  

“I’m honored and grateful to the board for this opportunity and will work to ensure that MEC continues to fulfill its vision of creating vibrant, relevant, and sustainable rural communities,” said Rubenthaler. “I, personally, have been a customer of MEC for almost 16 years, and I understand first-hand the impact our service has on our customers’ lives.” 

Hance, who will retire after 22 years at MEC, expressed confidence in the board’s selection. “MEC owes a lot of its success to Terry, and I’m confident he’ll continue to position MEC as a service provider our customers know they can rely on,” stated Hance. “MEC is in very good hands.” 

Stay in the know.

Get a value-packed newsletter with up-to-date information on programs, events, and Southwest Michigan news delivered to your inbox.

Bridgman CGA