FPL promotes official who helped defeat PSC commissioners
Florida Power & Light announced Tuesday that it is promoting Eric Silagy (photo) to senior vice president of regulatory and state government affairs, replacing Wade Litchfield, who was demoted from vice president of regulatory affairs to vice president and general counsel, a position he held previously.
Silagy led FPL's successful lobbying efforts during the legislative session, although -- as reported by the Sun-Sentinel -- he was never registered as a lobbyist. FPL worked to prevent the passage of ethics reform legislation that would have required all communication between utility officials and the Public Service Commission staff to be open and recorded. The company also worked to defeat the confirmation of PSC Commissioners Benjamin "Steve" Stevens and David Klement, who were added to the commission by Gov. Charlie Crist in January, voted against FPL's $1.3 billion rate increase request, but were rejected by the Senate in the last week of the session.
Litchfield managed the failed rate case and was known within the company for his aggressive "take no prisoners" approach to regulators. He was also one of the three FPL executives who met with Associated Industries of Florida president Barney Bishop to coordinate a press conference to attack PSC Commission Chairwoman Nancy Argenziano in October.
Silagy directed FPL's secret campaign last fall aimed at challenging PSC commissioners, posting negative comments about them on the Internet, and attempting to influence public opinion on the rate case with a massive public relations campaign. The company told the Times/Herald that it neither coordinated nor condoned the organized posting of comments on the Internet and denied the attacks on commissioners.
In January and February, Silagy and Litchfield were named in a series of whistleblower complaints by insiders at FPL who claimed the men broke the law and committed fraud by forcing employees to provide inaccurate information to regulators and shareholders. The FDLE is still investigating the claims.
FPL has since hired an outside legal counsel to conduct an internal investigation of the claims but concluded in an April 2 letter to employees that there was "no factual support." Neither the company, nor Carlton Fields law firm, could find anyone to step forward and attest to the claims. More here on the claims.
The company also announced it would continue to contract with former Attorney General Bob Butterworth to provide "additional advice, counsel and feedback regarding compliance, major regulatory filings, legislative issues and related communications." Butterworth also served under Crist as his Department of Children and Families secretary.
Here is CEO Armando Olivera's letter to employees:
I am pleased to announce that Eric Silagy is promoted to senior vice president of regulatory and state government affairs. In this capacity, he will have responsibility for directing regulatory and legislative policies for Florida Power & Light Company. Eric will continue to report to me. The regulatory and state government teams will begin reporting to him effective immediately.
Eric's previous experiences will serve him well in his new role. He has served as our chief development officer since 2008, following assignments as vice president of business management and business development with NextEra Energy Resources. Eric served as chief of staff to former U.S. Sen. J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana and, subsequently, as vice president of mergers, acquisitions and divestitures at Entergy Wholesale Operations, based in Houston, and as vice president of power generation development in Southeast Asia for The Wing Group, a subsidiary of Western Resources, before joining what was then FPL Energy in 2003.
I am also pleased to announce that Wade Litchfield is named vice president and general counsel of FPL with responsibility for all legal matters involving Florida Power & Light. FPL's regulatory attorneys will continue to report to Wade in his new capacity. Wade joined FPL from Entergy and has provided us with keen insight and outstanding counsel in every role since first joining us as a senior attorney in 1998. Wade will have a dual reporting relationship to me and to Executive Vice President and General Counsel Charles Sieving.
In addition, I am making a number of related changes to reporting relationships on an interim basis while we further evaluate our structure. During this interim period, the Development team and FPL Energy Services will report to me and Demand Side Management Programs will report to Marlene Santos, vice president of customer service.
Please offer your full support to all of these individuals in order to help ensure a smooth and effective transition for our organization.
President & CEO
Florida Power & Light Company