Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. announced Feb. 18 that John W. Somerhalder has been appointed vice chairman of the utility company’s board of directors, effective March 1.
Somerhalder will also serve as executive director and a member of FirstEnergy’s executive leadership team in a transitional capacity while the company focuses on advancing its immediate strategic priorities.
As vice chairman, Somerhalder will help lead efforts to rebuild trust with FirstEnergy’s external stakeholders, including regulators and the financial community. In his role as executive director, he will also serve as a member of FirstEnergy’s Executive Council and support the senior leadership team’s efforts to achieve its priorities and strengthen the company’s governance and compliance functions during this time of unprecedented change.
“We are pleased to welcome John to FirstEnergy’s board of directors,” Misheff said. “He is a 40-year energy industry executive with extensive experience navigating complex situations. His proven expertise in driving strong corporate governance and his external perspective will help FirstEnergy navigate its current challenges and objectives.”
Somerhalder will report to the board and will work closely with its members, particularly Donald T. Misheff, who continues as non-executive chairman of the board. Christopher D. Pappas, who was appointed executive director in October 2020, will continue to serve on FirstEnergy’s board of directors as an independent director.
“I look forward to working with John as we execute our long-term, customer-focused growth strategy and position FirstEnergy to continue delivering value for all stakeholders,” said Steven E. Strah, president and acting CEO.
In 2020, Somerhalder served as interim president and chief executive officer of CenterPoint Energy, an electric and natural gas utility serving markets in several regions of the United States, and was a member of the company’s board of directors from 2016 to 2020.
“I’m eager to begin working with Steve and the board to help advance FirstEnergy’s strategic priorities and continue to build a culture of ethics and integrity,” Somerhalder said.
Somerhalder served as interim president and CEO of Colonial Pipeline in 2017, and as president and CEO of AGL Resources from 2006 to 2015. He was chairman of the company’s board of directors from 2007 to 2015. He began his career at El Paso Corp., where he spent almost 30 years, rising through the ranks from an engineer to president of El Paso Pipeline Group and executive vice president of El Paso Corp.
Somerhalder is a member of the board of directors of Gulfport Energy and is chairman of Atlanta BeltLine Inc., an organization leading the planning and development of the Atlanta BeltLine around the city of Atlanta.