New CEO takes over at Orange-based energy company

There’s a new executive at the helm of Orange-based energy company Avangrid.

The company’s new chief executive officer, Pedro Azagra Blázquez, took control of the company on June 1. He replaced Dennis Arriola, who company officials said in March had “decided to leave the business” at the end of May after less than two years on the job.

Avangrid oversees all of the U.S. companies owned by Spanish energy giant Iberdrola. Those companies include three in Connecticut: The United Illuminating Co. and two natural gas utilities, Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas.

Azagra Blázquez had served as chief development officer of Iberdrola since 2008. He also has served on the Avangrid board of directors since 2019.

“I’ve had the privilege to be involved with the organization for many years, including leading the company into the offshore wind space, and I’m proud of Avangrid’s leadership in the energy industry,” Azagra Blázquez said in a statement. “I look forward to taking our company to the next level as we continue to raise the bar, be bold and think innovatively.”

Ignacio Galán, chairman of Avangrid, said in a written statement that Azagra Blázquez’s “substantial experience in the Iberdrola Group, globally and in the U.S., as well as the strong relationships he has built in the country over the years, make him a natural choice to lead the company.”

“Pedro knows the U.S. market well,” Galán said.

Arriola’s abrupt departure from the company came against a backdrop of Avangrid getting bogged down with two significant growth initiatives, one in Maine and the other in New Mexico.

Efforts to build a transmission line in Maine that would bring hydropower from Quebec into Maine and the New England region are mired in the courts.

Last month, the Maine Supreme Court heard arguments from officials with Central Maine Power, an Avangrid subsidiary, seeking to overturn the results of a statewide referendum in November 2021. Voters approved a ban on the construction of the project and work on building the transmission line has been on hold since.

A month after the Maine referendum, utility regulators in New Mexico rejected another key Avangrid effort.

Members of New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission voted unanimously last December to reject Avangrid’s proposed $4.3 billion deal to acquire PNM Resources. The deal, if it had been approved, would have allowed Avangrid to generate more wind and solar power that could be exported to larger markets.

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