Tom D. Kilgore
True-Blue Engineer Generating Progress for the Southeast
Inducted in 2002
It would be difficult to name a better ambassador for the discipline of engineering than Tom D. Kilgore. His leadership in the energy industry is testament to the power of engineering; he is nearly unique in maintaining, across a 30-year career, a commitment to the work of the engineer. Even today, as president of Progress Ventures — part of a Fortune 250 company, Progress Energy — Mr. Kilgore pursues the correct engineering answers to our energy challenges. His experience is unusually broad since he has worked in almost every area of an electric utility and some in gas. These areas include generation using coal, nuclear, hydro, gas, and synthetic fuels, coal mining, gas production, electric and gas transmission, and even utility deregulation/diversification.
Mr. Kilgore began to lay a good foundation by working for TVA on a test crew while he was attending The University of Alabama. In 1978, Mr. Kilgore accepted his first energy post as the manager of availability engineering for Arkansas Power & Light. Promoted to director of generation technology, then to director of fossil and hydro operations, he eventually left Little Rock to become director of power supply for Oglethorpe Power in Georgia. In short order, he became Oglethorpe’s chief executive officer, responsible for a $5 billion corporation that was the country’s largest power cooperative, supplying electricity to rural and suburban areas that constitute 70 percent of the land area of Georgia.
In 1998, Mr. Kilgore became a senior vice president at Carolina Power & Light, one of Progress Energy’s regulated utility companies. (CP&L operated 18 power plants and served over one million customers.) He was charged with diverse duties: system operations and planning, fossil and hydro generation, power plant development, wholesale power marketing and trading, gas supply and transportation, and fuel procurement.
When promoted in 2000 to the group presidency of Progress Ventures, Mr. Kilgore took charge of another diverse portfolio. Progress Ventures represents Progress Energy’s unregulated energy enterprises. Falling within Mr. Kilgore’s purview are coal mining, gas exploration and production, fuel transportation, rail services, merchant generation, unregulated energy marketing, and energy trading. Mr. Kilgore is steadily bringing to fruition his vision for ground-to-grid operations. Today, Progress Energy owns more state-of-the-art plants, in more states, serving more customers, than ever before.
Born in the Sand Mountain region of Alabama, Mr. Kilgore received a degree in mechanical engineering from The University of Alabama in 1970. (Following his graduation, he served in the U.S. Army.) Subsequently he completed a master’s degree in industrial engineering at Texas A&M University. He has dedicated himself to those who would follow in his academic footsteps, serving on the Advisory Board of the college’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is immediate-past chairman of that board, and last year established at UA the Progress Energy Mechanical Engineering Corporate Scholars Program, to provide financial aid to talented future engineers. He also serves on the national Industry Advisory Board of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Mr. Kilgore has been honored by The University of Alabama as both a Distinguished Engineering Fellow and as a Distinguished Mechanical Engineering Fellow. Over the past decade he has been selected to serve on the Harvard Electricity Policy Group; the Southeastern Electric Exchange Engineering and Operations Executive Committee; the Keystone Energy Board; the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Board; and the governing board of the Electric Power Research Institute, among others.
Mr. Kilgore and his wife, Myra, are the parents of Jennifer, Jeremy, and Matthew, and have two grandchildren.