CHICAGO, May 7, 2008—Robert McGehee, the late chairman and chief executive officer of Progress Energy, was honored today with the industry’s William S. Lee Award for Leadership at the Nuclear Energy Institute’s annual meeting here. McGehee, who died unexpectedly last October, is the first person to be honored posthumously.
McGehee had served as Progress Energy’s CEO since March 2004 and as chairman since May of that year.
He was instrumental in putting into place Progress Energy’s strategy to expand and diversify its electricity generation – a blueprint that has led to the company’s filing of a license application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last February for two possible new reactors at the Shearon Harris site in North Carolina, and to the expected filing of a license application later this year for a possible new nuclear power station in Levy County, Florida. The company’s business plan also includes alternate energy options such as hydrogen, solar in Florida, and even using more municipal incinerator waste to supply energy.
Under McGehee’s leadership, Progress Energy received the Edison Award, one of the electric industry’s highest honors, in 2006.
“Let it be said that the nuclear industry and the utility industry and many other people are poorer for Bob McGehee’s passing,” said John Rowe, NEI board chairman and the chairman, president and CEO of Exelon Corp., in presenting the Lee Award. “He was a talented executive, a wise lawyer, a committed citizen and a gentleman in every hour of his life. He represented a deep commitment to what it means to be an electric utility, a deep commitment to the nuclear power industry, and a deep commitment to his community.”
NEI President and CEO Frank L. (Skip) Bowman said of McGehee, “We lost far too soon a very good man who made significant contributions to the nuclear industry. I knew Bob to be a man dedicated to the electricity business and its important role in society – including the best interests of the company, its employees and shareholders, and the communities that it serves. Bob and I began our submarine duty together at the Navy’s Submarine School in 1967. I lost a true friend.”
The industry’s top leadership award was renamed in Lee’s honor following his death in 1996. Lee, one of the industry’s most vocal safety advocates, was chairman emeritus of Duke Power Co. and was the industry’s acknowledged leader. He was the first recipient of the industry’s leadership award in 1995.
“Bill Lee led the development of nuclear energy at Duke Power, and he was a steady, confident leader for our industry in the aftermath of the Three Mile Island accident,” Rowe said.
McGehee began his career with Progress Energy’s predecessor company in 1997 as senior vice president and general counsel. He held a number of executive positions with the company, including president and chief operating officer from 2002 to 2004.
Accepting the award on behalf of McGehee’s wife Jolene, William Johnson, the chairman CEO and president of Progress Energy, said, “Progress Energy and the nuclear industry were fortunate to have had a leader of Bob McGehee’s character and insight. Throughout his long career, he set the highest standards of integrity and performance. He was a strategic thinker and collaborative doer who brought out the very best in people by quiet inspiration.”