CPS Energy’s board is expected to convene at an emergency meeting next week to approve a contract that could rehire Doyle Beneby as CEO, sources outside the public utility confirmed on Friday.
The official announcement could be made as early as Monday, April 18, sources said.
Beneby’s prolonged departure from CPS Energy started in Aug. 2015, eight months ago, when he announced plans to lead the Chicago-based New Generation Power International (NGPI), an international independent renewable energy company. CPS Energy leadership and its board made several attempts to retain him. At the time, “utility officials would not discuss the offer or confirm whether it included an enhanced compensation package,” according to our previous coverage.
Beneby could not be reached for comment by deadline. Paula Gold-Williams, CPS Energy’s chief financial officer, took over as interim CEO on Nov. 1.
An email sent to CPS Energy employees by Gold-Williams on Friday revealed that the board search committee has selected the public utility’s new CEO, but did not name Beneby.
“(The board’s) far-reaching search for a CEO has come to a fruitful end,” she stated in the email. “I have full confidence that our Board CEO search committee has identified the right person for this role.”
It was unknown if she had applied or was considered for the position.
“While my time in this interim role was never meant to be permanent, I look forward to continuing to serve alongside you as we welcome our next CEO,” Gold-Williams said.
CPS Energy leadership has been careful not to reveal the names or positions of the candidates in order to preserve professional due process. The board’s personnel committee, comprised of Board Chair Ed Kelley and Vice Chair Derrick Howard, worked with executive search firm Korn Ferry to narrow the field of potential CEOs to eight candidates in December 2015. The board was in deep contract negotiations with a candidate earlier this year, but ultimately that candidate dropped out of consideration in February.
It was unlikely that those candidates were revisited, according to an interview with Board Chair Ed Kelley at the time. “Other promising candidates have surfaced during the time we were in these discussions.”
It’s unknown if Beneby was one of those candidates Kelley was referring to.
“I’m pleased to have been asked to serve as your interim CEO, as my heart has been with this company for the past 11 years,” Gold-Williams said. “It is indeed an honor and very humbling to lead such a worthwhile organization that has so many dedicated and caring people who work tirelessly to meet the needs of our customers who use and depend on our services.”
From previous coverage:
Beneby was hired in 2010 to lead CPS Energy, one of the largest publicly-owned utilities in the nation amid a political furor over the hidden cost of expanding the utility’s ownership of the South Texas Plant nuclear facility. That expansion was canceled, and plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades to a coal-fired plant also were shelved. Beneby reallocated the capital to fund CPS Energy investments in solar, wind and new energy-saving technology initiatives.
Arguably the most ambitious initiative started while Beneby was at the helm is CPS Energy’s New Energy Economy initiative which launched in 2011, less than one year after his arrival. The initiative calls for CPS Energy to 1) generate 20% of its grid capacity with zero- or low-carbon emitting renewable resource plants by 2020, 2) leverage clean energy and innovative technologies for job creation and education investment, 3) reduce emissions by an amount equivalent to taking almost 1.5 million cars off the road, and 4) fuel and inspire investment in education programs.
(Read More: San Antonio: Still #1 in Texas For Solar)
Beneby was also at the forefront of the launch of EPIcenter, an interactive energy education and technological innovation center on the Mission Reach.
Top image: CPS Energy outgoing President and CEO Doyle Beneby looks on as board Chair Nora Chavez discusses finding his replacement. Photo by Scott Ball.