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Progress president to retire in May

Bill Habermeyer, brought in to lead Progress Energy Florida after its 2000 acquisition, should name a successor in a few weeks.

Published February 17, 2006

Progress Energy Florida president and chief executive Bill Habermeyer, who has headed the company since Carolina Power & Light's acquisition of the St. Petersburg utility in 2000, will retire in May.

Habermeyer, 63, is expected to name a successor "in the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition of leadership," the company said Thursday in a memo to employees.

During his tenure at Progress Energy, Habermeyer has emerged as one of the Tampa Bay area's most visible business leaders.

He is a director of Raymond James Financial, chairman of the board of the Pinellas Education Foundation and a past vice chairman of Enterprise Florida. He serves on the boards of the Tampa Bay Partnership, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and numerous other civic and cultural institutions.

Habermeyer couldn't be reached Thursday for comment.

Habermeyer joined Carolina Power & Light of Raleigh, N.C., in 1993 after a 28-year career in the Navy, where he retired as a rear admiral. He served as CP&L's vice president of nuclear services and environmental support from 1993 to 1995, vice president of nuclear engineering from 1997 to 2000 and vice president of CP&L's western region from 1997 to 2000.

Habermeyer moved to St. Petersburg after CP&L's November 2000 acquisition of Florida Progress, the parent of the former Florida Power Corp. Since then, he has guided Progress' Florida utility operations through numerous challenges.

Paramount among them was making overdue repairs and upgrades to its electrical infrastructure to improve service. Many such repairs had fallen by the wayside during the years leading up to the 2000 merger as Florida Progress tried to shore up its bottom line to make the company more attractive to prospective acquirers.

Under Habermeyer, Progress Energy Florida negotiated a settlement last year with the state that froze its base electricity rate for two years; renewed franchise agreements with about three dozen Florida municipalities; negotiated collective-bargaining agreements with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a first for its nonunion Raleigh parent; and restored electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers during the 2004 hurricane season.

The Florida operation has suffered some setbacks during Habermeyer's tenure. Among them: The city of Winter Park's decision in September 2003 to drop the utility as its power provider and a bruising battle with consumer advocates the same year over the size of a customer refund. The latter dispute prompted state Attorney General Charlie Crist to intervene. State utility regulators ultimately sided against Progress in the matter.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker praised Habermeyer for reinforcing Progress' ties to the city, pointing in particular to the company's construction of a new downtown headquarters.

"He's just been very, very responsive to many, many things," Baker said.

Louis Hau can be reached at 813 226-3404 or

[Last modified February 17, 2006, 02:15:35]

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