Armando Olivera to retire, Eric Silagy will be new head of Florida Power & Light

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Armando Olivera, the president and chief executive officer of Florida Power & Light since 2003, announced Monday that he will retire in May, with senior vice president Eric Silagy taking the helm of the state’s largest electric utility, reports Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida.

Olivera, 62, is leaving the president’s job immediately but will remain as CEO until the May 2 effective date of his retirement. During his tenure, FPL has been a political power in Tallahassee while also dealing with a series of major issues — including restoring power after a spate of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005, planning new nuclear reactors and going through a contentious base-rate hearing in 2009 and 2010.

The retirement will come after Olivera’s 40th anniversary with the company. He started as an engineer trainee in 1972. As a sign of his prominence in business circles, he is a member of the Council of 100, an influential group of CEOs that has long advised governors and other state policymakers.

Lew Hay, chairman and chief executive officer of NextEra Energy Inc., the parent company of FPL, issued a statement Monday saying it would “be difficult to overstate Armando Olivera’s contribution to the business.”

Silagy, 46, became the utility’s senior vice president of regulatory and state government affairs in 2010, after holding other posts at FPL and another related company, NextEra Energy Resources. Earlier, he was a vice president of Houston-based Entergy Wholesale Operations and also served as a chief of staff to former U.S. Sen. J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana.

Among the issues Silagy will face as president and chief executive: FPL is expected to file another base-rate case in 2012, a months-long regulatory process that involves detailed examination of the company’s finances and operations.

Silagy has faced controversy in the past, with the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau reporting that he was involved in 2009 in a behind-the-scenes effort to challenge two Public Service Commission members appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist. The Senate in 2010 refused to confirm the nominations of those commissioners, who voted against a major FPL rate proposal.

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