Southern Company’s Board of Directors announced on Jan. 5 that Chris Womack, who has served as president of its largest subsidiary, Georgia Power, since 2020, and as Georgia Power’s chairman, president, and CEO since 2021, has been appointed CEO of Southern Company effective immediately following the conclusion of the company’s 2023 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. Last year’s annual meeting was held on May 25. The timing for this year’s event has not yet been announced.
Womack has also been appointed president of Southern Company and elected as a member of the company’s Board of Directors. Those appointments are effective March 31. The size of the Board will also be increased from 13 to 14 with the election of Womack (Figure 1). Womack will replace Tom Fanning, who will assume the role of Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors following the annual meeting. Rumors of Fanning’s retirement surfaced in late July and many observers speculated that Womack would be selected to fill the position.
“Tom has guided Southern Company through a period of significant change. Under his oversight, Southern Company has delivered substantial value to stockholders and increased the dividend annually, while safeguarding the interests of employees, the communities in which the system operates and the entire spectrum of the company’s stakeholders. We are grateful for Tom’s innumerable contributions to the company and industry over more than 42 years of service, and we look forward to the next chapter in Southern Company’s history,” David J. Grain, Southern Company’s lead independent director, said in a statement announcing the change.
Womack joined Southern Company in 1988 and has held several leadership positions within Southern Company and its subsidiaries. Prior to his current roles, he served as executive vice president and president of external affairs for Southern Company. He has served as executive vice president of external affairs at Georgia Power, and senior vice president and senior production officer of Southern Company Generation. Womack also served as senior vice president of human resources and chief people officer at Southern Company, as well as senior vice president of public relations and corporate services at Alabama Power.
Prior to joining Southern Company, Womack worked on Capitol Hill for the U.S. House of Representatives. He served as a legislative aide for former Congressman Leon Panetta and as staff director for the Subcommittee on Personnel and Police for the Committee on House Administration.
In addition to Womack’s appointment, the Southern Company Board also announced several other changes at the company. Among the switches, Jeff Peoples was named chairman, CEO, and president of Alabama Power, effective immediately. Peoples succeeds Mark Crosswhite, who retired after eight years as the company’s leader. Peoples had most recently served as Alabama Power’s executive vice president of Customer and Employee Services.
Other changes that will be effective on March 31 include Kim Greene taking Womack’s place as chair, CEO, and president of Georgia Power. Greene is currently the chair, president, and CEO of Southern Company Gas, a subsidiary that delivers natural gas to more than 4.3 million utility customers in Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Jim Kerr will take Greene’s place as chairman, CEO, and president of Southern Company Gas. Kerr is currently executive vice president, chief legal officer, and chief compliance officer for Southern Company. His duties include leading the company’s legal, corporate governance, audit, and compliance functions, among other things.
Lastly, Pete Sena has been named president of Southern Nuclear but will also remain the company’s Chief Nuclear Officer, a position he’s held since July 2019. Stephen Kuczynski will remain chairman and CEO of Southern Nuclear.
“Each of Kim, Jeff, Jim and Pete has emerged as a proven leader with a strong track record of success and demonstrated skill working across the company. I expect each will flourish in their new position, further strengthening Southern Company’s deep management bench and bringing a fresh perspective to each of these businesses,” Fanning said in the Southern Company announcement.
—Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).