Outgoing CPS Energy President and CEO Doyle Beneby, who was set to leave his position at the end of the month to work at an international renewable energy company, has received an offer from the public utility that it hopes he can’t refuse. Board trustees emerged from a closed-door session to announce the unexpected 11th hour offer, but refused to disclose the terms of the offer.
The board’s move carries the implication that trustees increased the rich compensation package offered to Beneby if he agrees to stay.
“As you know, Doyle submitted his resignation to the board a couple of months ago. What you may not know is that the board has never stopped pursuing Doyle, and our efforts to retain him have been relentless,” stated CPS Energy Board Chair Nora Chavez in a Thursday blog post.
Efforts by executive search firm Korn Ferry International to recruit Beneby’s replacement from a pool of outside and internal candidates are “in a hold period” until Beneby responds to the new offer, CPS Energy board member Ed Kelly told the Rivard Report.
“Doyle had received a very, very strong offer from the other company, but we let him know if there was any way to keep him, we would do it,” Kelly said Thursday. “If for some reason he doesn’t (accept the offer) we would need to go back out into the market.”
Utility officials would not discuss the offer or confirm whether it includes an enhanced compensation package to compete with the Chicago-based renewable energy firm that has announced Beneby’s hiring.
What is known is that the proposal would allow Beneby to be involved in his soon-to-be employer’s, Chicago-based New Generation Power International (NGPI), in a “non-CEO, advisory role,” such as a board member or board chair. It’s unclear if that includes allowing him to hold an equity position in the company.
Beneby announced his departure from CPS Energy in August and revealed in September that he had been tapped to lead NGPI. Renewable energy has long been a passion of his, the new position would grant him the resources necessary to see the concepts of his “New Energy Economy” launched in San Antonio on a global scale.
“I’m flattered that our Board has worked so hard over the past few months considering strong CEO candidates, and has still concluded that it is worth their effort to present a creative proposal that might allow me to satisfy both of my interests,” stated Beneby in an emailed statement. “Obviously, it’s something that I will seriously consider after discussion with my family.”
He appears to be keeping an open mind, Kelly said.
Chavez, who publicly announced the proposal on Thursday after a special executive session of the board, expects a response from Beneby within seven days.
CPS Energy spokesperson Paul Flanigan clarified that the CEO position “entails a lot of time and energy and effort here,” so whatever role he would fulfill at NGPI would have to be on a part-time basis.
“Over the last few weeks we have made significant progress and our search firm has presented us with a strong slate of candidates,” Chavez stated.
Despite the potential of other candidates for the position, the board remains convinced that the best way to continue CPS Energy’s “amazing momentum” into the future is with Beneby at the helm.
“At the end of the day, we know that Doyle is the best and most qualified candidate to lead CPS Energy, and the recent outpouring of community support and recognition of his accomplishments would support that,” Chavez stated. “He has launched CPS Energy on an outstanding trajectory, and is exactly what we need as we enter our next chapter, which I am confident will be even more impactful and exciting than our last.”
If Doyle declines the offer, Chief Financial Officer Paula Gold-Williams will take over as interim CEO as planned on Nov. 1.
*Top image: CPS Energy President and CEO Doyle Beneby at a recent board meeting. Photo by Scott Ball.