James Y. Kerr II as general counsel.
James Y. Kerr II as general counsel. (PR NEWSWIRE/Newscom)

Southern Company has appointed McGuireWoods partner James Kerr II as general counsel, chief compliance officer and executive vice president, effective March 8.

“Jim is an excellent addition to our leadership team, bringing more than 20 years of legal and regulatory experience in the energy sector to Southern Company,” said Thomas Fanning, the chairman, president and CEO, in an announcement.

Ed Holland had been Southern Co.’s GC until becoming president and CEO last year of Mississippi Power, a Southern Co. subsidiary. The Atlanta-based utility giant did not name an interim GC after Holland’s redeployment, a spokesperson said.

Kerr, 49, is a partner in the Raleigh office of McGuireWoods, where he co-chairs the energy industry team. He is also a senior adviser at McGuireWoods Consulting.

Southern Company is one of his clients, according to the announcement.

Kerr handles federal energy policy and regulations and represents utilities in base rate, fuel case and facility certification proceedings.

He joined McGuireWoods in 2008 after eight years as a member of the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

He was president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners from 2007 to 2008 and is currently on the board of directors for the Electric Power Research Institute.

Kerr has a law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University.

“Jim is joining a wonderful organization. I will personally miss his leadership here but am very pleased for him and his family that he will assume such an important position at Southern Company,” said McGuireWoods Chairman Richard Cullen.