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David Blee: A Triple-Crown Winner

By Tim Echols

Vice-Chair of the Georgia Public Service Commission

It was the France-Atlanta 2011 event at Georgia Tech where I first met David Blee. I moderated a panel on nuclear reprocessing, and Blee gave a keynote right after my panel.  I knew nothing about him, but that chance meeting started a nuclear-policy mentoring relationship.   He passed away recently. Here are three things I learned from David Blee.

First, there wasn’t any question I could ask him about nuclear energy, spent fuel, federal policy or future technologies that he didn’t have an immediate answer to.  He had been on the inside in both the legislative and executive branch of the federal government.  He had traveled the world visiting plants, speaking at conferences, eventually organizing conferences, and fact-gathering.  And because I’m an advocate at heart like David, we hit it off well.

Second, David was so direct, and that took some getting used to.  I remember wearing my “Commissioner name-tag” up in Washington and he told me I looked like a realtor and needed to “take that thing off” at events there. He had a sharp wit and didn’t hesitate to call you out on anything he found odd or out of place. If I did anything remotely unprofessional, he let me know it. Yet, as a young commissioner learning about federal policy, he sensed my hunger to learn and made many opportunities around the world available to me. He was loyal to me and his bluntness only made me a better person and official.

Finally, David was optimistic. I guess his work in the Thoroughbred Horse industry helped make him that way.   He believed that the United States could win again in the nuclear energy race.  He was the grand champion of advanced reactors and assembled groups of people around the world to talk about them.  He showcased the latest technologies and reminded me why Georgia finishing Plant Vogtle was critical on so many levels.  And probably most important, he believed in me.  That meant the world.

His institutional knowledge and political prowess will be missed.  RIP David Blee.

 

Tim Echols is Vice-Chair of the Georgia Public Service Commission.

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