Potomac Electric Power Co. Chief Executive Officer W. Reid Thompson has been named a silver award winner in an annual search by Financial World magazine for the "chief executive officer of the year."

The winner of this year's judging was Chrysler executive Lee Iacocca for his rescue of the near bankrupt automobile firm.

Iacocca was the judges' pick from what the magazine called "an unusually strong list of silver award finalists."

Although Thompson was the only Washington area executive among the 11 silver award winners, two other area executives were named in the next category.

John J. Byrne, chairman of Geico Corp. for insurance, and William G. McGowan, chairman of MCI Communications Corp. for telephone communications, were named bronze industry winners, which are selected by senior security analysts and investment firm research directors.

Speaking of Thompson, the magazine said that Thompson "showed remarkable foresight in his assessment that the slump in demand after the Arab oil embargo in 1973 was not just temporary but signaled much slower growth for the long haul."

It noted that Thompson cut the utility's four-year expansion program from $1.5 billion to $600 million. Thompson's held down costs, but he hasn't elevated the utility's return on equity to his satisfaction, the magazine said.

"But with Thompson's keen eye for cost controls and long-term planning, Pepco should continue to come out ahead."