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Brad Sawatzke Named Energy Northwest CEO

Mike Paoli, Public Affairs, 509-377-4164
Carla Martinez, Public Affairs, 509-372-5156


RICHLAND, Wash. – Energy Northwest’s executive board today named Brad Sawatzke as the agency’s chief executive officer. Sawatzke has been acting as interim CEO since the departure of Mark Reddemann on March 30.

The board also appointed Grover Hettel as chief nuclear officer. Hettel previously served as vice president for Operations. Replacing Hettel as Operations vice president is Bob Schuetz, who will also continue in his role as Columbia Generating Station’s plant general manager pending selection of a new plant manager.

In an organizational change, the EN executive board moved the agency’s hydro, wind and solar operations, as well as new development and energy business services, under the leadership of Brent Ridge, who continues as vice president for Corporate Services.

“I am humbled and honored with this new opportunity,” Sawatzke told the board today. “We have a talented and capable team, and I’m very enthusiastic about the bright future facing us as a 100 percent clean generator of environmentally safe and affordable electricity.”

As CEO, Sawatzke leads an organization of nearly 1,100 men and women who help power the region through a variety of carbon-free resources, the most prominent of which is the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant. Columbia, near Richland, provides approximately 10 percent of Washington’s electricity, or enough electricity to power one million homes.

“The executive board is extremely pleased with Brad’s acceptance to lead the agency,” said executive board chair Sid Morrison. “His passionate leadership and commitment to excellence is contagious, which is exactly what we were looking for.”

 “We’re confident Brad will ensure this agency provides the most reliable and cost-effective power and energy solutions to regional electric customers.”         

Prior to today’s appointment, Sawatzke [full bio here] served as the agency’s chief operating officer and chief nuclear officer. Before joining Energy Northwest in 2010, Sawatzke was the director of site operations at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, operated by Xcel Energy. He worked for Xcel Energy for nearly 29 years.

Sawatzke holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics from Winona State University and is a graduate of the Harvard Advanced Management Program. He has also held a reactor operator and senior reactor operator license at the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant, Monticello, Minn.

He currently serves on the United Way of Benton & Franklin counties board of directors, Community Solutions board, and Northwest Public Power Association board of trustees; and is a member of the Columbia Basin College nuclear technology advisory board. 

Grover Hettel

Prior to today’s appointment, and since joining Energy Northwest in March 2012, Hettel [full bio here] served as vice president for Operations. Before joining EN, he served as Operations director and plant general manager at Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Phoenix, Ariz.; Maintenance manager and acting plant general manager at Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Homestead, Fla.; and Maintenance manager and plant general manager at Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Covert, Mich.; in addition to leadership positions at Entergy’s Arkansas Nuclear One in Russellville, Ark., where he held a senior reactor operators license.

Hettel holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Arkansas Tech University, a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and is a graduate of the Harvard Advanced Management Program.

Hettel currently serves on the Regional Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce board of directors. He is a licensed professional engineer. 

Brent Ridge

Brent Ridge [full bio here] joined Energy Northwest in 2002 and is the vice president for Corporate Services, and Chief Financial and Risk Officer. In this capacity, he is responsible for finance; treasury; enterprise risk management; asset management; human resources; supply chain; information services; and, as of today, non-nuclear generation assets, energy business services and new development.

Before joining Energy Northwest, Ridge was a manager for a construction company specializing in municipal water treatment plants, and industrial installations at U.S. military facilities.

Ridge holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Idaho, and a master’s degree in business administration from Regis University. He also completed the Reactor Technology Course for Utility Executives at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Utility Executive Course at the University of Idaho.

Ridge is currently a member of the Chancellors Advisory Council for Washington State University Tri-Cities and the local March of Dimes and United Way Boards. He is a past member of the Tri-City Development Council Board of Directors and former Chairman of the Board of Columbia Industries.

Bob Schuetz

In addition to today’s promotion, Schuetz [full bio here] will temporarily continue his duties as plant general manager for Columbia Generating Station. He joined Energy Northwest as the Maintenance manager in September 2013. Before joining Energy Northwest, he served in the same position as part of the employee reverse-loan program with the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.

Schuetz served as a submarine officer in the Navy for 28 years.  He served as commanding officer of the attack submarine U.S.S. Hyman G. Rickover, and commander of submarine squadrons 17 and 19. His final assignment was as deputy commander and chief of staff for the commander of Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet. Upon retirement from the Navy, he was a plant evaluation team leader at INPO.

Schuetz holds a bachelor of science in nuclear engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a master of arts in economics from the University of Oklahoma, and a master of engineering management from Old Dominion University. He holds senior reactor operator management certifications on both pressurized and boiling-water reactors, and is a licensed professional engineer.

About Energy Northwest:
Energy Northwest develops, owns and operates a diverse mix of electricity generating resources, including hydro, solar and wind projects, and the third-largest provider of electricity in Washington – the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power facility. These projects provide carbon-free electricity at the cost of generation – enough reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy to power more than a million homes each year. As a joint action agency of Washington state, Energy Northwest comprises 27 public power member utilities from across the state serving more than 1.5 million customers. The agency continually explores new generation projects to meet its members’ needs. In 2016, the Association of Washington Business named Energy Northwest Employer of the Year.

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