The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners has named Georgia PSC Commissioner Tim Echols to chair the Nuclear Waste Subcommittee.
The NARUC Subcommittee will bring the brightest minds in nuclear energy to three national conferences each year. Commissioner Echols says there will be a focus on small modular reactors.
“SMRs hold great promise for the US and our climate goals,” Echols said. “It’s my hope that the federal government can reapportion part of the Inflation Reduction Act money to be used as a federal backstop against cost overruns that are likely to result in building new nuclear.”
Echols has long served as Vice-Chair of the Committee and is seen as an expert in the field of nuclear energy and reprocessing. As he has since 2014, Echols is representing the United States at the World Nuclear Exhibition held in France Nov. 28 to 30.
“For the first time in decades, the United States can stand shoulder to shoulder with French officials and be proud of the completion of the Westinghouse AP1000 built at Plant Vogtle in Georgia,” Echols said. “It is my hope that our success here in Georgia will lead other states in America to begin their own nuclear projects.”
Echols led the effort in 2017 to complete the reactors after Toshiba bankrupted Westinghouse, the plant’s prime contractor. Despite the challenges, Georgia Power completed the project under the oversight of the Georgia Public Service Commission.
“Finishing Plant Vogtle has been a critical part of my tenure on the PSC,” Echols said. “Our Commission, the legislature, the business community and many others have been supportive of the effort and we are proud to be the only state in America to accomplish such a task.”
About Tim Echols – Commissioner Echols is Vice-Chair of the Georgia Public Service Commission.
A younger Tim Echols was selected by the Atlanta Airport Rotary Club as “Student of the Year” from his high school in 1978. While at the luncheon, he met Truett Cathy, a member of the Atlanta Airport Rotary Club. After the meeting, Truett invited Tim to come by his Hapeville office and there gave him a set of motivational tapes and a challenge. Echols said the tapes changed his life and as a result of listening to Zig Ziglar and his teaching, Tim set a goal to be a statewide elected official.
Shortly after graduating from UGA, Tim and his wife Windy founded TeenPact, a training experience for conservative high school students. The program began at the Georgia Capitol and now operates in all 50 states, having trained 60,000 students. After building TeenPact, Echols ran for and was elected to statewide office in 2010 serving as Public Service Commissioner.
The PSC’s primary job is energy regulation. When Echols took office, Georgia was 34th in solar power. Now, the state is 9th in the nation for installed solar. In 2020, Conservatives for Clean Energy dubbed Echols the “Solar Architect of Georgia.” Georgia will be 4th in installed solar by 2024.
Echols has also created the Clean Energy Roadshow that has traveled the state every summer for the last eleven years. This educational event travels to cities around the state helping commuters, businesses and municipal governments evaluate alternative fuel for their transportation and residential use.
Tim authored the December 2017 motion to keep Plant Vogtle moving forward. He believes carbon-free nuclear energy plus solar is the way forward for Georgia. He has represented the United States at the World Nuclear Exhibition for the last eight years.
Tim has tried to lead by example. He added solar hot water heating to his Athens home just before being sworn in. He bought a natural gas car, a propane van and now owns an electric car. Tim also led the effort to provide the Salvation Army and two other agencies with $5 million to help low income seniors in Atlanta with heating assistance. That program continues today. Tim created a pilot program to provide specially equipped IPADS to the hearing impaired to help them function more productively. Tim also led the PSC to increase the number of pediatric hearing aids in a program the PSC oversees.
Most recently, Tim rallied donors and the solar community to build and donate to the Hog Hammock Foundation a 16-panel solar pavilion for the community library on the remote island off Georgia’s coast. Sapelo is the home of one of the last remaining Gullah Geechee communities and this array provides free electricity to the library for the next 30 years. With help from YellaWood, Southern Current and EDF Renewables, Echols led the way to build this lasting asset.
Tim also has been at the forefront in fighting human sex trafficking. He created the “Unholy Tour” that helps policy makers see first-hand the harms of human trafficking. As a part of his efforts to educate the public about the harms of trafficking, Echols created the Wilberforce Fellowship that meets once per year at Jackson Lake in Newton County. Tim and Judge Tim Batten head up this effort.
Tim has a weekly radio show called Energy Matters airing on Cox Media Group and in four other Georgia media markets.
Tim most recently finished up a historical fiction book about the founding of the Jekyll Island Club entitled “Jean Marc of Jekyll.” The book is about the power of remarkable friendships.
Tim and his wife, Windy, have been married 40 years and they have seven children. He has 3 degrees from the University of Georgia and lives in Hoschton, Georgia.
The Georgia Public Service Commission is a five-member constitutional agency that exercises its authority and influence to ensure that consumers receive safe, reliable, and reasonably-priced telecommunications, electric and natural gas service from financially viable and technically competent companies. For more information on the Commission, see the Commission website at https://psc.ga.gov