Former Energy Secretary & Nuclear Energy Supporter Joins 2nd Largest US Utility

By Barbara Wenger

Former United States Secretary of Energy, a renowned physicist and a strong supporter of nuclear energy, Ernest Moniz is joining the Board of Southern Company, the nation’s second-largest utility company.

Moniz served as U.S. Secretary of Energy from 2013 to early 2017, and there he advanced energy technology innovation, nuclear security and strategic stability, cutting-edge capabilities for the American scientific research community and environmental stewardship. 

Moniz has been outspoken about his advocacy of a strong nuclear energy industry as a way to bolster national security.  A report released last year by Energy Futures Initiative, a think tank he leads, titled The U.S. Nuclear Energy Enterprise: A Key National Security Enabler, stated:

The dramatic reduction in new plant construction following the Three Mile Island incident in 1979 has taken its toll in a scaled back domestic manufacturing capability. The new builds in the Southeast promised a reversal, but as already discussed this advance has already been compromised and is at risk in its entirety. Further the early retirement of existing plants, with as much as another twenty gigawatts considered at risk by 2020, will also impact the supply chain, which already has significant gaps. Without a strong nuclear energy program, which is by far the largest nuclear activity in the United States, sustaining the supply chain for both civilian and national security objectives will be challenging.

Of his appointment to the Southern company board, he said in a statement: “I have long admired Southern Company for its innovative approach to research and development within the clean energy space, and look forward to joining the board.”

Effective March 1st, he will serve on Southern Company’s Operations Environmental and Safety Committee and the Nominating, Governance and Corporate Responsibility Committee of the board. He will also serve on the Business Security Subcommittee, which focuses on cyber and physical risks across the company’s system.

“Ernie Moniz enhances our board by bringing a strong energy science and technology background together with broad expertise in energy and environmental policy, which will be invaluable as we continue to develop innovative solutions to shape America’s energy future,” said Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A Fanning

Moniz currently is the co-chairman and CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to prevent catastrophic attacks with weapons of mass destruction and disruption – nuclear, biological, radiological and cyber.

He was a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology from 2009 to 2013 and received the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award in 2016.

Prior to his appointment as Secretary of Energy, Dr. Moniz was a faculty member at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for over four decades. He was the founding director of the MIT Energy Initiative and Director of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment where he was a leader of multidisciplinary technology and policy studies on the future of nuclear power, coal, nuclear fuel cycles, natural gas and solar energy in a low-carbon world.  He currently is the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems emeritus at MIT. He is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Harvard Belfer Center.