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Eric Silagy named new Florida Power & Light president as Armando Olivera retires

Florida Power & Light President and CEO Armando Olivera announced his retirement Monday after 40 years with the company, leaving the state's largest utility in the hands of Eric Silagy, its senior vice president of regulatory and state government affairs.

Olivera, who started as an engineer trainee in 1972, will continue as CEO until May 2. Silagy began as president today.

Silagy's rise to the top is not unexpected. He joined the company's energy subsidiary, NextEra Energy resources, in 2003 as VP of business development. He moved to FPL in 2007 as chief development officer, responsible for development of new power generation. He took the helm of the lobbying team in 2010.

Silagy directed the company's secret campaign in 2009  targeting two PSC commissioners appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist, partly by posting negative online comments about  them as FPL aimed to influence public opinion on a rate case with a massive public relations campaign. The Senate would not confirm the appointments of the commissioners, Nancy Argenziano and Nathan Skop, who voted against the request, in 2010.

The company has said it neither coordinated nor condoned the attacks.

A Sun Sentinel story called into question Silagy's lobbying efforts during the 2010 session even though he was not registered as a lobbyist. The company promoted him not long after.

Meanwhile, a group of whistleblowers  continue to circulate rumors about unethical practices at FPL, including that employees destroyed documents so they would not have to disclose them. So far they have not offered evidence to substantiate their claims.

The shake-up comes on the heels of another base-rate increase request in 2012.