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Sept. 20, 2021

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New CEO named for nuclear plant

Schuetz was site vice president for Energy Northwest

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RICHLAND — The site vice president for Energy Northwest has been named to lead the Richland agency that operates the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant.

Energy Northwest’s board conducted a national search, but also considered some strong internal candidates, the outgoing chairman of the executive board, Sid Morrison, told the Tri-City Herald last month.

The board settled on Bob Schuetz, who joined Energy Northwest in 2013.

He starts work as CEO Aug. 7 with a base salary of about $675,000.

“Bob’s diverse leadership experience, combined with his nuclear background and time with Energy Northwest, provide continuity for the agency and a formula for continued success,” Will Purser, executive board acting chairman, said Thursday.

Brad Sawatzke announced in January that he would retire as chief executive at the end of June, a position he held since 2018. He also was promoted from within Energy Northwest.

Chief Nuclear Officer Grover Hettel has been serving as interim chief executive officer since Sawatzke’s retirement and will continue in his former role, with responsibility for the overall performance of the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant.

“With Bob and Grover in our top leadership positions, we’re confident Energy Northwest will continue to provide the most reliable, cost-effective, carbon-free power and energy solutions to regional electric customers,” Purser said.

Navy leadership

Schuetz joined Energy Northwest as maintenance manager and then was promoted to plant general manager, vice president for nuclear operations and then site vice president in August 2018.

Before joining Energy Northwest he was a plant evaluation team leader at the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and was loaned to the Richland agency for about a year before becoming an Energy Northwest employee.

He served as a submarine officer in the U.S. Navy for 28 years, with his final assignment before retiring from the Navy as deputy commander and chief of staff for Commander Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet. He oversaw 7,000 service members operating 36 ships from four bases.

He also has served as commanding officer of the attack submarine USS Hyman G. Rickover.

Schuetz holds a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York state, a master’s in engineering management from Old Dominion University in Virginia and a master’s in economics from the University of Oklahoma.

Purser described Schuetz as having a relentless pursuit of excellence.

“His contributions have helped grow our carbon-free energy portfolio and paved the way for our leadership with advanced reactors,” Purser said.

Energy Northwest is working in partnership with X-energy, of Rockville, Md., and Grant County PUD to develop, build and operate an 80-megawatt reactor, the Xe-100, on land leased by Energy Northwest about 10 miles north of Richland.

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