In 2013, Cliff Hare and Philip Cato combined their years of experience in the natural gas markets to form LE Energy, the parent company of two retail energy providers: Utility Gas and Power LLC and Michigan Natural Gas LLC. Utility Gas & Power is a licensed alternative energy provider in Illinois and Ohio. Michigan Natural Gas is a licensed alternative gas supplier of natural gas services in Michigan. LE Energy is headquartered in Alabama and is committed to serving clients with a customer-driven focus and concentration on energy use education.
Before joining forces with Cato, Hare spent 34 years focused almost exclusively in the natural gas business. Most recently, he was a founder and president of Eagle Energy Partners, a Houston based natural gas and power marketing company. Prior to Eagle, Hare was president of energy marketing at Dynegy, a leading North American energy company, and a founder and board member of two large, well-established retail energy companies: Georgia Natural Gas, the largest natural gas supplier in Georgia, and Champion Energy Services, one of the largest electricity suppliers in Texas.
In 2004, Cato went to work for Eagle Energy Partners, the aforementioned energy marketer co-founded by Hare. Cato would go on to work for two other energy marketers, obtaining a strong level of expertise in the natural gas and electricity markets. After spending numerous years working with producers as well as end users, Cato and Hare understood the potential opportunity in the market, but also the obstacles they would need to overcome. The retail energy industry comes with high barriers to entry – providing the cash for utility deposits (as they grew to over $1 million in the first year) and finding the best wholesale supplier. Hare and Cato utilized their previous experience in the wholesale markets to secure an elite supplier for LE Energy.
In March of 2013, Hare and Cato started LE Energy from an office in the Auburn Business Incubator providing natural gas services in Michigan. Shortly after starting, they contacted the Alabama SBDC at Auburn University for assistance with a strategic plan for growth. In 2015, LE Energy added Utility Gas & Power to provide gas in Illinois and, in 2017, began serving natural gas and electricity to customers in Ohio. “The SBDC helped us understand what our competitors were doing in various states and how those entities were compensating their third party contractors. The SBDC provided valuable demographic information for our expansion into these new states.”
LE Energy now has 11 full time employees at its Opelika, Alabama office location and continues to grow as it expands to new markets.