The head of the board at Santee Cooper has changed.

O.L. Thompson of Charleston has been replaced as chairman by Columbia attorney Leighton Lord, who was recently confirmed by the state Senate.

The position carries a seven-year term for the state-owned electric and water utility based in Moncks Corner.

Thompson, head of Charleston-based O.L Thompson Construction Co., had been chairman of the 12-member board of directors since 2005. His term expired last year though he remained in the role until Lord’s appointment. Thompson is no longer on the board.

With Thompson’s departure and Lord’s rise to chairman, the Santee Cooper board has two vacant seats.

Lord was the representative from the 2nd Congressional District, which is now vacant. A representative from the newly created 7th Congressional District has not been appointed.

Candidates are nominated by the governor, deemed fully qualified by the Senate Public Utilities Review Committee and confirmed by the state Senate.

The board includes directors representing each of the state’s congressional districts; one from each of the three counties (Berkeley, Georgetown and Horry) where Santee Cooper serves retail customers directly; a director with previous electric cooperative experience; and a chairman appointed at large.

Lord is former chairman at the law firm of Nexsen Pruet and he ran unsuccessfully for S.C. attorney general as a Republican in 2010. His law practice has an emphasis on economic development and real estate financing, commercial leasing and state land sale registrations.

He is a member of Gov. Nikki Haley’s Wind Energy Task Force and a member of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Offshore Renewable Energy Task Force for South Carolina.

Lord also serves on the Providence Hospital Foundation Board, is chairman of the Heathwood Hall Episcopal School Foundation Board and serves on the board of governors for the Palmetto Club.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.