Black Hills Energy Announces Leadership Transition in Iowa with Vice President Retirement and Succession

Black Hills Energy today announced the retirement of Tracy Peterson as vice president of operations for Iowa Gas. Peterson’s career in the utility industry spans forty years, with the last 13 years as vice president of operations. His last day in the role will be May 3, 2019.


“His remarkable career has been a benefit to Iowa and our entire organization and we wish him the very best,” said Ivan Vancas, group vice president of natural gas utilities, Black Hills Energy. “Tracy has built a legacy of leading and serving the natural gas industry.”

Peterson started his career in natural gas in 1979, reading meters for the company in Forest City, Iowa. Five years later he became a service and operations specialist, beginning what would be a series of career advancements with leadership roles in operations, customer service and process management, spanning multiple states.

By 2006, Peterson was the vice president of gas operations for Iowa and continued in that role after Black Hills Energy acquired the Iowa operations from Aquila in 2008. In his time with Black Hills Energy, Peterson led the Iowa utility through several projects critical to maintaining safe, reliable and affordable natural gas service for Iowa customers.  

While serving as vice president, Tracy joined the board of the Iowa Utilities Association, serving two terms as board chair. He also provided leadership outside the utility industry, serving non-profits including Trees Forever, Rotary, Boy Scouts of America and numerous economic development organizations.


In addition, Black Hills Energy announced the appointment of Wes Ashton, current director of operations for Iowa Gas since early 2014, as Peterson’s successor as the new vice president of operations for Iowa Gas. Ashton will begin his new role on March 25, 2019.


“Having worked together for many years, Tracy and Wes will ensure a smooth transition for customers and employees in Iowa,” said Vancas. “Wes has played an instrumental role in reliably serving our customers in Iowa over the past several years and is well positioned to lead the utility by drawing upon a diverse career in the industry.”


Ashton joined the company in 2006 as the manager of government affairs for Colorado and Kansas. He became senior manager of public affairs for the company’s Colorado utilities in 2011. His responsibilities supported the Colorado electric and natural gas utilities, as well as Black Hills Power Delivery and Exploration and Production divisions.


Ashton received his bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University. He earned Dean’s Honors while achieving his Juris Doctorate from Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, KS. Wes is a member of the Kansas and Missouri Bar Associations, and is licensed to practice law in both states. In addition to his professional achievements, Wes volunteers his time and efforts outside of work through a number of civic groups, church activities and youth coaching. He has served on the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement, Catholic Charities, and numerous Chamber of Commerce and economic development organizations.

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