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On The Move: Algonquin Names Board Member CEO

May 13, 2024
Also: Avangrid Networks’ president prepares to step down.

The directors of Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. have concluded their search for a chief executive officer by choosing one of their own.

Chris Huskilson, who has been a director of Ontario-based Algonquin since 2020, has been the company’s interim CEO since the departure of Arun Banskota last August. He is a former CEO of energy business Emera Inc., which last decade bought Florida’s TECO Energy.

“Chris has both a tremendous track-record and significant industry experience, making him well-suited to lead AQN as it continues its strategic transformation into a pure-play regulated utility,” Chairman Kenneth Moore said in a statement. “The board and Chris continue to work on the longer-term CEO succession plan.”

On a May 10 conference call with analysts to discuss Algonquin’s first-quarter results, Huskilson clarified that the succession plan referenced by Moore doesn’t mean another CEO search will start soon and that he is committed to being Algonquin’s leader over the longer term.

“When I say succession, I truly mean succession as in, ‘We need to develop successors within and from without, if necessary, as well,’” Huskilson said. “We do need to develop a proper and appropriate succession plan, which the company doesn’t have today.”

That, Huskilson added, will mean placing more emphasis on the leadership teams at Algonquin’s various utilities, which market electricity, natural gas, water and wastewater management services under the Liberty brand.

“The skills and capabilities that will be developed and will exist in the field [are] going to be a lot stronger,” he said. “We need to develop a succession plan across the entire company to facilitate that development.”

Word of Huskilson’s permanent appointment comes about three weeks after the Algonquin board finalized an agreement with Starboard Value LP, the company’s largest investor, to replace Moore and fellow director Masheed Saidi. Set to take their places are former Xcel Energy Inc. Chief Customer Officer Brett Carter and Hydro One Ltd. executive Christopher Lopez.

Avangrid Networks leader to leave

The No. 2 executive at Avangrid Inc. will step down from her post in early July, three and a half years after joining the company.

Catherine Stempien came to Connecticut-based Avangrid after leading Duke Energy’s Florida utility. In her role as president and CEO Avangrid Networks Inc., she oversees the company’s eight electric and gas utilities, which combined have roughly 3.3 million customers in New York and New England. She also has been leading the company’s regulatory affairs, asset management and planning work.

Avangrid disclosed Stempien’s departure plans in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and didn’t add any information about a possible replacement for her.

Avangrid leaders in January pulled out of an agreement, signed in October 2020, to buy PNM Resources Inc. in a deal valued at about $8 billion. The acquisition plan had run into regulatory pushback in New Mexico, where officials objected to a proposed $300 million community benefits agreement.

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