TAMPA — John Ramil, who started with the local electric utility as a University of South Florida engineering student 34 years ago, has been named successor to Sherrill Hudson as chief executive of TECO Energy Inc.
The ascension of Ramil, 54, who has been effectively running the parent of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas for several years, was little surprise. He had been the principal architect of an executive suite restructuring a year ago as chief operating officer.
Ramil's "extensive experience at TECO and knowledge of the industry gives him a unique perspective," said Hudson, 67, who stepped aside as CEO on Wednesday and announced his retirement as executive chairman at the end of 2012.
Hudson, who earned $2.9 million in total compensation in 2009, has been credited with guiding the Tampa utility back to an even keel since 2004, making it sufficiently stable financially to get back its investment-grade debt ratings.
Ramil said in a statement that he is "very excited" to be taking the reins.
"I am proud to be part of this team and to follow Sherrill, who provided a strong stabilizing influence as we made our way back to the traditional TECO performance that our constituents have come to rely on," Ramil said.
With 4,200 employees, TECO is one of the Tampa area's largest employers. With revenue of $3.3 billion and its 667,000 customer service area hemmed in by larger competitors, its financial anchor has been hitched directly to the economic health and growth of Hillsborough County. TECO also owns coal companies in Kentucky, two coal-fired power plants in Guatemala and Peoples Gas System, the state's largest natural gas distributor with 345,000 customers, which stretches across several counties.
Ramil, who earned $2.1 million in total compensation last year, recently was elected chairman of the trustees at USF. He's on the board of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Straz Center for the Performing Arts and the Tampa Bay Partnership, the region's lead economic development agency and business relocation recruiter.
Tampa Electric, which has benefited from power bills inflated by an unusually cold winter and record hot summer, nonetheless recently agreed to a $24 million rate reduction of its approved rate increase for 2010 that will take effect in January. The increase is paying for five combustion turbines and rail facilities for unloading coal at the company's Big Bend Station.
TECO estimated the reduction will reduce its net income by $15 million in 2010 and lower earnings estimates to between $1.25 and $1.35 a share for the year.
Mark Albright can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8252.