Southern’s Tom Fanning to retire

December 18, 2023, 3:02PMNuclear News


Tom Fanning, Southern Company board executive chairman and the man who helmed the firm during construction of the two new AP1000 reactors at Georgia’s Vogtle nuclear plant, will retire December 31, Southern has announced. His board seat will be filled by Chris Womack, who replaced Fanning as Southern’s president and chief executive officer earlier this year.

Elected by the Southern board in July 2010, Fanning became company president in August 2010 and assumed the additional responsibilities of chairman and CEO that December. During his more than 43 years with Southern, Fanning held executive roles across various business disciplines, including finance, strategy, international business development, and technology. As president, chairman, and CEO of Southern, he received numerous accolades, including being named one of the most influential leaders in the energy industry in the past 25 years.

ANS awarded Fanning a Presidential Citation at this year’s Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Ind.

“I am eternally grateful for my more than four decades of service to Southern Company, customers, communities, and its shareholders and stakeholders,” said Fanning. “I have seen firsthand what this company can accomplish, including putting into service the first new nuclear generation unit in our country in a generation, and I am confident our best chapter is still ahead.”

Testimonials: “Tom Fanning's remarkable leadership has furthered Southern Company’s standing as one of this country’s premier energy companies,” stated David J. Grain, Southern’s lead independent director. “On behalf of the board of directors and the entire company, we extend our heartfelt appreciation to Tom for his exceptional contributions. We are confident that Chris, with his proven track record of success and visionary leadership, will guide Southern Company to continued success in the evolving energy landscape.”

In an email to Nuclear Newswire, ANS past president (2021–2022) Steve Nesbit commented, “Under Tom Fanning’s leadership, Southern Company took on many challenges in constructing Vogtle Units 3 and 4. The project exercised a new regulatory framework—10 CFR Part 52—for the first time. The reactor supplier, Westinghouse, filed for bankruptcy in 2017 with the units only partially completed. Thanks to the perseverance of Mr. Fanning and others, Unit 3 entered commercial operation earlier this year and Unit 4 should go on line in 2024. Notwithstanding the delays and cost overruns associated with the project, the reactors are an important addition to clean, reliable, dispatchable electricity generation in the United States. The people of Georgia will realize the benefits of the Vogtle-3 and -4 nuclear power reactors over the coming decades. The nuclear industry owes a major debt of gratitude to Tom Fanning.”

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