The board of South Carolina’s public health and environmental agency has tapped a former Duke Energy executive to lead the agency during Gov. Nikki Haley’s second term.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) board, whose members are appointed by the governor, voted unanimously for Catherine Heigel in a Friday teleconference. Her nomination must now be confirmed by the Senate.
Heigel currently works as a general counsel for the accounting firm Elliott Davis Decosimo in Greenville. Prior to that she spent 11 years at Duke Energy, including serving as president of the company’s South Carolina operations from 2010 until 2012.
She will replace Catherine Templeton, who announced her resignation from the post in January to pursue other opportunities. After her resignation, the board chose former state insurance director Eleanor Kitzman for the post. But Kitzman’s nomination was held up in the Statehouse, where Democratic senators (and even some Republicans) questioned her credentials and her close fundraising ties to Gov. Haley. Kitzman eventually withdrew her name from consideration.
Board members said they selected Heigel from among 99 applicants. The board said its two other finalists were Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Michael Wolf and Timothy Keck, the chief of staff for Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. State law requires the top three finalists be made public.
Heigel’s salary would be $155,000 per year if she is confirmed, according to statements made during Friday’s meeting.