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Fla. exec to lead Allegheny

June 10, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Allegheny Energy's Board of Directors has elected the current president of Florida Power and Light Company as its new company president, chairman and chief executive officer, officials announced Monday.

Paul J. Evanson, 61, who has been in his current post since 1995, will leave his position at the Juno Beach, Fla., headquarters Friday. He will become president of the debt-ridden utility company headquartered southwest of Hagerstown Monday, June 16.

Allegheny Energy spokeswoman Cynthia Shoop would not comment on Evanson's salary.

Jay S. Pifer, Allegheny's interim president and chief executive officer, has been asked by Evanson and board members to remain as the company's chief operating officer.

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"Jay has done a great job with the company over the years," Evanson said.

Alan J. Noia announced his retirement as Allegheny's president, chief executive officer and chairman on March 6. Noia ended his seven-year tenure on April 18.

Monday's announcement came as Allegheny officials continue a comprehensive review of last year's financial statements after finding mistakes. The company has yet to restate those financial statements or issue an annual report for 2002.

The utility avoided filing for bankruptcy when company officials negotiated $2.437 billion in secured and unsecured loans in late February.

On March 10, company officials announced the postponement of Allegheny's annual shareholders' meeting so they could finish reviewing financial statements. The meeting, to have been held May 8, has not been rescheduled.

Allegheny officials also are awaiting a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding two energy supply contracts with California, the larger of which is a $1.3 billion asset for Allegheny. When that contract with Allegheny's energy trading subsidiary, Allegheny Energy Supply, was signed, the company said it would be worth $4.5 billion during its 11-year term, Allegheny Energy Supply spokeswoman Janice Lantz has said.

At issue are two energy contracts California and Allegheny signed in March 2001, when energy prices were much higher because of an energy crisis. California officials want the contracts voided or restructured with lower prices.

"There is, however, much work to be done, and there are many challenges to be met. I'm committed to taking the steps necessary to build a solid financial position, restore investor confidence, and serve our customers well," Evanson said in a prepared statement.

Evanson said in a telephone interview that he has ideas on how to get the company out of the red, but plans to wait until he assumes his new duties to see how other company officials will react to them.

Evanson became president of Florida Power & Light and a director of FPL Group in 1995, according to the Allegheny statement. Florida Power & Light is a subsidiary of FPL Group.

In 1992, Evanson became vice president of finance and chief financial officer of FPL Group and senior vice president of finance and chief financial officer of Florida Power & Light Company, according to Allegheny's statement.

Before that, Evanson was chief operating officer of Lynch Corporation, a diversified holding company, the statement says.

According to the statement, Evanson is a director of Lynch Interactive Corporation, the University of Florida Foundation, and community and industry organizations.

Florida Power and Light Company has between 10,000 and 11,000 employees, which is about double the 5,200 employees Allegheny has, Evanson said over the phone.

He said the company serves half the state of Florida.

Evanson said he left the company for the "challenge of working with a great company."

He said he wants to strengthen internal controls at Allegheny, which he said will ensure finances are reported fairly and accurately.

"There's too much debt in the company so we'll have to work down the debt," he said.

Staff writer Pepper Ballard contributed to this story.

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