Columbia in NRC’s highest performance category

(From Nuclear Regulatory Commission news releases)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued letters to the nation’s 99 commercial operating nuclear plants about their performance in 2015. All but three plants were in the two highest performance categories.

“These assessment letters are the result of a holistic review of operating performance at each domestic power reactor facility,” said Bill Dean, director of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation. “In addition to ensuring that the nation’s nuclear power plants are safe by inspecting them, the NRC continuously assesses performance. The purpose of these assessment letters is to ensure that all of our stakeholders clearly understand the basis for our assessments of plant performance and the actions we are taking to address any identified performance deficiencies.”

columbia-nuclear-plant 600xx2400-1600-0-100

Columbia Generating Station.

NRC assesses plant performance through the use of inspection findings and other indicators that can trigger additional oversight if needed. Overall, (Columbia Generating Station) operated safely in 2015 and the plant is currently under the NRC’s normal level of oversight.

“By assessing each plant’s performance in a comprehensive manner, we are able to focus our inspection resources on those areas most in need of attention,” NRC Region IV Administrator Marc Dapas said. “Because Columbia Generating Station did not have any safety or security issues above very low significance in 2015, we are not currently planning any inspections above and beyond our normal reviews.”

The NRC’s normal level of oversight at each U.S. nuclear power plant involves thousands of hours of inspection. In 2015, the agency devoted about 6,000 hours of inspection and review at Columbia.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public open house on March 17, in Richland, Wash., to discuss the agency’s annual review of safety performance at the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant. The plant is operated by Energy Northwest.

NRC staff will be on hand from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Richland Public Library, Conference Room B, 955 Northgate Drive in Richland. While there are no formal presentations during the open house, the public will have an opportunity to ask about NRC’s assessment of the plant’s performance in 2015 and the agency’s oversight plans for 2016. Among the NRC staff in attendance will be the Resident Inspectors assigned to the plant on a full-time basis.

Of the 96 highest-performing reactors, 85 fully met all safety and security performance objectives. These reactors were inspected by the NRC using the normal “baseline” inspection program.

Celebrating National Engineers Week

Engineers are a vital part of the nuclear energy industry. So to commemorate EWeek, we asked a few of the engineers at Columbia Generating Station to answer this question:

Why did you become an engineer?

Denise Brandon, Columbia Generating Station Plant Support Engineering manager

Good question. I guess it started with my dad in his garage. I was by his side fixing things, denise-weblearning how they work. One of my favorite teachers in 5th grade got me excited about math and in college my math teacher was able to make it all click. I was in college during the boom and the electrical engineers were all on their way to great things. I jumped in. I worked at Ford Motor Company and Boeing during college and had the time of my life. That road led me to Energy Northwest and I feel very fortunate to be able to use my training as an engineer to solve issues daily.

So in a nutshell, I like solving problems and seeing how things work. It’s still exciting.


Orlando Bolet, Columbia Generating Station Engineer senior

It’s an interesting question. The word “Engineering” is derived from the Latin word “ingeniare,” which is a military term for constructor of engines or/and military war machines.

orlando-webEngineering is a career for a person with a technical aptitude able to analyze and see what others don’t see. An engineer is able to analyze a condition and come up with concrete creative solutions.

When I first started college, I started in the physics department of “Universidad de Puerto Rico” which is the public college. As I was studying physics and I wanted to align myself with a career of real world applications more than theoretical investigations. I changed to civil engineering after taking an aptitude test and switched colleges to Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico. While in college, I discovered I had a better aptitude with electrical engineering concepts and the science behind electrical engineering fascinated me more than static physics and structural analyses. I also discovered an aptitude to jump from different electrical engineering classes and was able to learn from different topics.

If I had to summarize “why I became an engineer” it was through trial, error and the love of science in the field of electrical engineering.

Last year, I completed my master’s degree in engineering management in order to earn an understanding of business needs while maintaining the engineering aspect of data analysis.


Jamie Dunn, Columbia Generating Station Engineer seniorJamie-web

I became an engineer because I have always been interested in design; this evolved from graphic design to interior design to architecture to civil engineering. My strength in math and my consistent curiosity to understand how things work motivated me to pursue a career in engineering.

I now proudly work as an engineer in an industry that makes clean power for the world.

Visit our Careers page at to learn more about the opportunities at Energy Northwest.

To learn more about Engineers Week, click here.

From Navy to Nuclear – Ricky Mendoza’s Story


Ricky Mendoza CU

Ricky Mendoza

Ricky Mendoza is an equipment operator at Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station, the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear energy facility. We asked Ricky to share his story of transitioning from the military to the utility sector.



I went to work for Uncle Sam right out of high school. After Boot camp, the remainder of my first two years in the Navy was spent in Charleston, S.C. and Ballston Spa, N.Y., as a student of the Navy’s Nuclear Power Training program. This was a rather intense/fast paced program, which has been compared to MIT regarding its level of difficulty and the dedication needed to graduate. After making it through the Nuclear power training pipeline, I went on to serve the next four years on the U.S.S. Alabama as a submarine electrician.


The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Alabama (SSBN 731) at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Ed Early/Released)

My training didn’t end once on board the Bama, but it did take on a new facet. The training now focused on combating engineering (equipment-related) casualties; firefighting; tracking and evading (and destroying) enemy submarines, and launching nuclear ballistic missiles. As a submarine electrician, I was responsible for maintaining the boat’s electrical distribution system and maintaining and repairing all electrical equipment on board, from washing machines to steam driven turbine generators. Quite often, I would be entrusted with the responsibility of controlling the boat’s speed, while standing watch as the “Throttleman.”


With my last duty station being Bremerton, Wash., I was fortunate enough to find Columbia Generating Station only a short four hour drive to the east. Luckily, I had former shipmates who had recently found their way into commercial nuclear power.  Their opinions of the industry, with an ability to advance within the company, persuaded me to seek out a career in commercial nuclear power.

My Navy experience paralleled my current position at Columbia in many ways. First, itRicky Mendoza 2 gave me the technical expertise needed to quickly become a contributing member of the Operations team. In addition to technical skills and knowledge, the most important attribute gained from my military service was the solid establishment of the “honesty and integrity” culture. This attitude and way of thinking is an absolute essential cornerstone of the nuclear power industry.

What I do

Ricky Mendoza

Ricky Mendoza on the Refueling Floor at Columbia.

Equipment operators are the “eyes and ears” of the main control room (and the licensed operators) in a commercial nuclear power plant. We fulfill this role by continuously monitoring plant parameters. At least once every 12 hours, equipment operators walk down nearly every piece of equipment in every building of the power plant, to verify equipment is operating as expected. That means the EOs must have a solid understanding of the many different systems’ functions to help us identify degraded equipment performance or abnormal conditions. Equipment operators also perform all equipment manipulations in the field necessary to support surveillance testing, system start-ups and shutdowns and the tagging process, which prevents work on certain equipment.  Additionally, EOs are members of the on-site fire brigade.

The most challenging aspect of the job for me is the never ending pursuit for system knowledge and experience. Every shift presents an opportunity to enhance our knowledge of plant systems and their safe operation.

Having said that, and despite my best efforts, I think my job is still a bit of a mystery to most of my non-Navy friends. But, I think if I had to sum up their feelings about my career choice I would use the word “proud.”

Career choices

I would highly recommend a career in commercial nuclear power to anyone with prior Navy nuclear experience.  A career in the Operations department of a commercial nuclear plant will provide years of fulfilling challenges. Once you master the skills of one position, there is always an opportunity to advance into new positions that provide new perspectives and new responsibilities.

Ricky Mendoza is an equipment operator at Energy Northwest and a member of IBEW Local 77.

Energy Northwest is designated a Military Friendly® Employer. To learn more about the Troops to Energy Jobs Initiative, visit:

To learn more about career opportunities at Energy Northwest, visit our website.

Energy Policy by Headline

The headline certainly draws attention:

“Switch to Clean Energy Can Be Fast and Cheap”

In energy resource development, “fast” and “cheap” are laudable goals, but are seldom realistic.

Before an energy project can be built, it goes through multiple “processes” (planning, permitting, licensing).

It is also subject to various “hearings” (public, legislative, regulatory, even judicial – see Jim Conca’s take on the recent Supreme Court action on the Clean Power Plan).

These things are not fast nor are they cheap.

In the push to show that an “all renewables” electric grid can be readily and affordably implemented, shortcuts (intellectual and other) should not be taken that overlook what is actually needed to develop real-life power generation projects, much less massively reconfigure the national power system.

To summarize the article reprinted in Scientific American:

Wind and sunshine could power most of the United States by 2030 without raising electricity prices, according to a new study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Even when optimizing to cut costs and limiting themselves to existing technology, scientists showed that renewables can meet energy demands and slash carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector by 80 percent below 1990 levels.

In less than 14 years! Hey, what’s not to like about that?

The above assumes that a wide variety of technical, economic, and institutional challenges can be successfully overcome by 2030. For example:

MacDonald and Clack said the key enabler for their high renewable energy penetration scenarios is high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission. Photovoltaics and wind turbines often generate direct-current electricity, so transmitting in direct current removes a conversion step that costs money and saps power.

HVDC transmission lines also have fewer losses over long distances than alternating-current transmission. The authors envision an HVDC network across the United States akin to the interstate highway system, shunting power from where it’s produced to where it’s needed in a national electricity market.

In other words, for the U.S. to make a huge, rapid switch to renewables, the study recognizes that the national transmission grid would have to be significantly re-vamped as well. All in 14 years’ time.Pop Mchx Flying Car 1957

Recall the cover of the July 1957 issue of Popular Mechanics that predicted flying cars would be as cheap as automobiles by 1967.

Blowin’ in the wind

As an example, consider the Northwest’s existing wind generating resources. They are heavily concentrated in the Columbia Gorge, for good reason; that’s where the wind is.

But, there are still weeks when the 5,000+ megawatts of wind generation capacity on the Bonneville Power Administration system isn’t contributing much, if anything, to the grid. Without the availability of firm back-up from hydro and thermal (nuclear, coal and natural gas), there’s real trouble. The lights don’t come on.

The study purports to overcome this challenge by building huge new HVDC transmission facilities to link all regions of the U.S. into a single fantastically huge grid. Imagine the expense, and the technical hurdles, that would need to be overcome to make this work.

So back to the “fast and cheap” scenario and the questions that are not asked.

Question #1: Who will pay for it?

Utilities generally don’t build generation projects because they are fond of the technology; they build them because there is a need, i.e. predicted load growth or retirement and replacement of generating resources. But in either case, there is a planning period that typically spans years before the first permit application is even filed. There is also the matter of securing the many millions, or even billions, of dollars needed to build the renewable resources, transmission facilities, control systems, etc.

Question #2: How long would it actually take to design, reach consensus on and then build a massively different power system?

Different regions across the U.S. have diverse mixes of public and investor-owned utilities with different processes located in various states with different rules and regulations and different environmental, cultural and economic concerns. In California, it took seven years just to reach agreement on and start up its regulatory program for reducing CO2 emissions.

It’s not realistic to think that all of the issues and interests could be addressed and then the new power system completed in 14 years’ time.

Question #3: Why an all-renewable portfolio anyway?

If the goal is to reduce carbon emissions, there are more alternatives than just wind and solar. There is hydro, there is nuclear, there is natural gas (which is less carbon-intensive than coal but way above the other two choices). The report does, thankfully, call for continuing existing hydro and nuclear resources, according to Rod Adams at Atomic Insights, who has delved deeper into it.

What some may not realize is that while the wind is free and the sun is free, the technology to convert wind and sun to electricity is not. It is a very mortal process with voices on all sides wanting a say. See the recent legislative episodes in Vermont.

A recent piece in the Spokane Journal of Business makes the case that in the Northwest, solar, not wind, will be the preferred new renewable going forward. A Bonneville Power Administration project engineer told the Journal:

“What we think we’re going to see is the development of solar energy take off. The cost to build is cheaper, and its power can be on a grid in a matter of months rather than years, as is the case with wind.”

But as long as there is a handful of people saying we can power the U.S. with wind and solar, the mantle will be picked up in the comment sections of energy related articles across the country. “So-and-so said we can do it, therefore we can!”

Question #4: How much new wind and solar generation do we even need in the Pacific Northwest?

When it comes to power resource planning, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council does as thorough a job as anyone of reading the landscape to see what’s on the horizon and beyond.

In the draft for their 7th Power Plan (the final plan is approved but not posted yet), the Council made clear that a non-generating resource is supreme:

“In more than 90 percent of future conditions, cost-effective efficiency met all electricity load growth through 2035. It’s not only the single largest contributor to meeting the region’s future electricity needs, it’s also the single largest source of new winter peaking capacity.”

What comes next? Demand response (we do that). And after that? Modest amounts of new natural gas-fired generation.

With just those three resources, load growth in the Northwest is covered through 2035, as projected, according to the draft plan.

As John Harrison of the NWPCC is quoted in the Spokane Journal article:

“It’s free fuel,” Harrison says. “But the bad news for wind power is that it doesn’t produce at capacity in high or low temperatures. We’ve probably maxed out on wind development.”

The Oregon experiment

That sentiment is also prominent in a recent Oregonian article by Ted Sickinger on the effort to move the state’s two largest investor-owned utilities out of the coal game.

The discussion in Oregon is to shift PGE and PacifiCorp to 50 percent renewables by 2040 (10 years later than the NOAA plan). Both would need to do away with a total of 2,400 megawatts of coal capacity, which means nearly tripling the current amount of wind capacity in the state (from 3,000 megawatts to 8,000 megawatts) if that is the chosen replacement resource. Cost: up to $13 billion.

Sickinger writes, “Yet there is a practical limit to the buildout in Oregon. The wind here doesn’t match Montana and Wyoming, and the windiest sites with nearby transmission on the Columbia Plateau are already taken. To maintain reliability, utilities will also avoid clustering all their wind turbines in one area.”

It’s a daunting task and ratepayers will ultimately decide if the environmental benefits of snipping the coal wire (the coal plants aren’t actually located in Oregon) are worth the estimated costs. But it is a shame that carbon-free nuclear energy is not part of the discussion, given NuScale’s development of homegrown small modular reactor technology. $13 billion buys a lot of NuScale modules. Just saying.

Smart energy strategy

More than aspirational dreaming, we need smart energy strategies – ones that take into account the economic, technical and environmental aspects of energy resource development. And what is possible. Also, one that values existing clean energy resources, such as nuclear.

In the real world the lights have to stay on. The heat pump has to work in the winter. The air conditioner in the summer. The margin for error is very small concerning people’s lives and livelihoods. “Fast” and “cheap” may not always cut it. Reliable and cost-effective will do just fine.

(Posted by John Dobken)

Heart of America Northwest, PSR Petition Rejected by NRC

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission delivered a lump of coal to two anti-nuclear energy groups last week by rejecting a petition the groups filed in May.

The petition from Heart of America Northwest and Physicians for Social Responsibility sought to prevent Columbia Generating Station from re-starting following its spring refueling outage because of a “crack indication” in a weld on one of its jet pump risers.

The groups said the indication should be repaired (not necessary); the NRC should take into account seismic information post-Fukushima (already doing so); and that the indication would (somehow) prevent the core from being cooled if there were some seismic event (not true).

We are talking about an indication that is an inch and a quarter in length that doesn’t affect Columbia’s operation.

Jet Pump Indication edit

Some history from our earlier post:

In April, Energy Northwest sent a (courtesy) letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission informing them of our assessment of potential crack growth rates on a single indication (the one in the photo above). The industry normally applies the same standard growth rate to both ends of a crack. The letter simply explains to the NRC that we are applying a slightly lower crack growth rate to one end of the potential crack and provided sound engineering support, including: the material condition at the potential crack tip; mitigation of cracking through effective hydrogen water chemistry; and, industry and plant experience which shows low crack growth rates for similar indications.

In fact this letter is similar to the 2011 letter to the NRC on the same issue.

Additionally, in 2005 we proactively installed slip joint clamps since these are designed to limit vibration and fatigue stresses.

The anti-nuclear groups stumbled on the publicly available courtesy letter and away they went…

 What the NRC Found

On May 27, the NRC’s petition review board denied the HOANW/PSR request for immediate action because their “petition did not provide new information demonstrating an immediate safety concern to the plant or to the health and safety of the public.” The NRC letter went on to say Energy Northwest used a more robust standard from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Code in the evaluation of the weld with the flaw and that EN is monitoring the indication and will re-inspect it during the 2017 refueling outage.

Not good enough for HOANW/PSR. They wanted a teleconference.

During the call, two more issues were raised: the groups wanted access to proprietary information from an EN vendor so it could be reviewed by other anti-nuclear energy groups; and that the NRC “Consider the location of this plant and the fact that it sits in the middle of the Hanford Reservation.”

In August, the NRC rejected these points as well.

The NRC Letter sent to the groups last week provides an education on nuclear reactor core cooling and puts a cork in the anti-nuclear hyperbole.

Highlights of what the NRC wrote:

“The jet pumps are designed and built to withstand a seismic event.”

“…Licensees (Energy Northwest) have demonstrated seismic margins supportive of continued plant operation while additional risk evaluations are conducted.”

“The NRC staff further emphasized in a June 4, 2015, public meeting that ‘the staff notes that Columbia continues to operate safely including consideration of new seismic hazard information.’”

“…jet pump failure has no impact on the structural integrity of the reactor coolant pressure boundary. Therefore, jet pump failure will not cause the reactor to depressurize and result in loss of coolant.”

The issue raised about the location of Columbia Generating Station “in the middle of the Hanford Reservation” is telling. As the NRC wrote in rejecting this part: “…fails to provide sufficient facts to support the petition…” There’s defense nuclear waste at Hanford and Columbia has spent nuclear fuel so… what? The NRC knows we have spent nuclear fuel on site. They regulate its existence.

Beyond that, a quick Google search would find Columbia not even located “in the middle” of the Hanford Site. It’s sloppy stuff. Shouldn’t one’s raison d’etre demand a little more precision and rigor? (We lease the land from the Department of Energy, to which the NRC sent the anti-nuclear groups for any issues they have with Hanford).

Hanford Map

Just the Facts. Well…

Facts, as the saying goes, are stubborn things. Which is probably why this entire petition filed by Heart of America Northwest and Physicians for Social Responsibility contained very few of them. But if the purpose was to waste the time and money of two organizations, mission accomplished.

That’s what happens when one is driven by ideology alone – facts don’t matter, and responsibility is the worry of the other guy.

The anti-nuclear energy activists have been wrong about Columbia 221mil-lifetime-generationGenerating Station for 31 years. Who else gets to be wrong that much and still have anyone pay attention to them? More than 221,000,000 megawatt-hours of carbon-free generation later, the men and women of Energy Northwest continue fulfilling the promise, working safely and effectively to provide electricity to homes and businesses throughout the Northwest.

We think that’s something to be proud of.

(Posted by John Dobken)

Talking Nuclear Energy from Washington State to Washington D.C.

This fall, two important meetings moved the Pacific Northwest and the nation closer to the eventuality of Small Modular Reactors on the grid, and to building those SMRs in new manufacturing facilities. One meeting took place in Washington state and the other in Washington D.C. The NuScale Power SMR, born of Oregon State University, was featured at both meetings.

Energy Northwest is part of the SMR initiative: The first commercial NuScale reactors are scheduled to be installed in Idaho with the power going to the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (based in Salt Lake City), and Energy Northwest acting as the first operator. Hopefully, this will be the first of many SMRs to be installed throughout the country.

Now to the meetings…

The White House Summit on Nuclear Energy: Nov. 6, 2015

The White House organized the Washington D.C. meeting and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to nuclear energy. The fact sheet for the White House Summit is titled: Obama Administration Announces Actions to Ensure that Nuclear Energy Remains a Vibrant Component of the United States’ Clean Energy Strategy.

Why? The fact sheet makes clear what some are still reluctant to understand:

Nuclear power, which in 2014 generated about 60 percent of carbon-free electricity in the United States, continues to play a major role in efforts to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector.

As America leads the global transition to a low-carbon economy, the continued development of new and advanced nuclear technologies along with support for currently operating nuclear power plants is an important component of our clean energy strategy.

To summarize, nuclear provides clean air energy and jobs. We need both.

Of particular interest to Washington state, the Summit announced many new initiatives for bringing SMRs to market, and to the grid. One major initiative is…

Simulation Support:

The Department of Energy Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors is signing an agreement with NuScale to develop modeling and simulation tools. In this cost-shared venture, CASL will install simulation tools on NuScale systems, and NuScale will simulate performance using the CASL tools.

And after simulation comes…

Licensing Support:

The Department of Energy is investing $452 million dollars, over a six-year span, beginning in 2012. This money supports the engineering expenses at NRC that will be associated with first-of-a-kind licensing for SMRs. This is also another cost-share agreement with private industry. Without this type of industry-government cooperation, the cost of obtaining a first-of-a-kind license would be prohibitive. Estimates for a first-of-a-kind license run to over one billion dollars.

You can watch the entire White House Summit on Nuclear Energy at this link.

Dr. Jose Reyes of NuScale is a member of the Innovation Panel, which discusses new types of reactors. This panel begins at 3:05  (three hours and five minutes) into the program. During his portion, Dr. Reyes explains the worldwide potential demand for small nuclear reactors.

We’ve provided a video clip of a portion of his presentation below:


The Washington State Task Force

The Washington State Legislature’s Joint Select Task Force on Nuclear Energy focuses on encouraging the possible role of Washington state as a base for the manufacture of SMRs. As you can see in the Final Report from last year (issued in December) some of the members of the Task Force toured NuScale Power in November 2014.

NETF oct 29

Rep. Terry Nealey speaking during the Washington state Task Force meeting Oct. 29 in Kennewick, Wash.

The Washington State Task Force is an on-going effort, and far more focused than the Washington D.C. Summit Meeting, which seems to have been a one-time event.  The DC meeting was a very nice one-time event, because of the support shown for SMRs, but without the virtues of a task force.

In the document above, you can see that the Washington State Task Force reviews many aspects of developing SMRs, both technical aspects and the possible benefits of new manufacturing in Washington state.

The Washington D.C. meeting did not include any written presentations, viewgraphs or visual aids. In contrast, the Washington State Task force has an abundance of information in presentations.  The 2014 presentations are here. I especially recommend the DOE presentation on  SMR market perspective, and the presentation by Energy Northwest, and NuScale Power.

The meeting notes for 2015 are not yet posted, but they are even more informative. In 2015, NuScale shows a slide in which the components necessary for a NuScale reactor are shown in black type, while the components necessary for a full-scale reactor are shown in light-gray type.




This is a very dramatic slide, despite being all words in black and white!  It shows that SMRs are not just shrunken versions of full-scale reactors: They are truly re-engineered and simplified. Passive safety design can actually be a simpler design.

D.C. and Washington State: Both playing their best roles

I would say that if you really want to know about how SMRs are going to be built and deployed, the ongoing task force of the Washington State legislature has solid information and readable documents. However, I hope that the Nuclear Energy Summit in Washington D.C. will also be helpful to the future of nuclear energy and the future of Washington state.  In that meeting, DOE in Washington D.C. announced it would also play its best role: helping nuclear entrepreneurs access the National Labs, and helping new reactors get licensed.

Washington D.C. and Washington state cooperating on Small Modular Reactors: that would be a win-win for everyone.

(Post by Meredith Angwin)

Continuing their service through Public Power

This week, Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs®, named Energy Northwest a 2016 Military Friendly® Employer for its efforts in recruiting veterans to work at the public power agency.

Criteria for the designation include a benchmark survey score across key programs and policies, such as the strength of company military recruiting efforts, percentage of new hires with prior military service, retention programs for veterans, and company policies on National Guard and Reserve service.

It is an honor for us, as Energy Northwest is committed to hiring military talent, knowing first-hand that recruiting from the military community is not only the “right thing to do,” but it makes good business sense.

“There is a strong relationship between the military, particularly the Navy, and commercial nuclear power,” said Brent Ridge, EN vice president for Corporate Services/chief financial & risk officer. “But we have found great team members from all branches of the service who have strengthened our organization.”

Energy Northwest employs nearly 300 military veterans in departments including Operations, Maintenance, Engineering, Health Physics, Security and Human Resources.

We asked several of our employees who are veterans to talk to us about how their military service prepared them for positions in the energy industry.

Their responses are below:

Amy D., Human Resources

First, I must say that joining the military was the first decision I made as an adult and the best decision I’ve made thus far. Without the military, I wouldn’t be where I am today so I’m truly grateful for all the values and skills I received during my experience. Vets---AmyThose values include integrity, respect for authority, teamwork and to always have a plan. By learning those values early on, I’ve been able to structure not only my career, but my personal life around those core values.

To me, working with integrity means having high standards not only in yourself, but your coworkers. The teamwork I see in other groups as well as my own, leads us to trusting each other and leaning on one another for help when needed. To me, that is the key to any organization achieving a favorable outcome no matter what the task may be.

Spain A., Operations

Teamwork. My experience in the Navy taught me the benefits of teamwork. Whether it was getting the USS Stennis ready for its first sea trial; maintaining the USS Lincoln Vets---Spainbattle ready in the Persian Gulf or helping keep submarines in top shape down at Pearl Harbor Shipyard; all could not be done successfully without teamwork.

I learned early on in my naval service how much great teamwork, within the department and across departmental lines, ensures mission success. I thrive in a teamwork environment and that is why I enjoy working at Energy Northwest. It takes teamwork to strive for excellence and the teamwork I’ve seen here is on par with my most successful Navy tours.

Blanca A., Energy Services & Development

I believe that working in today’s energy industry, individuals must have passion and be driven with a can-do attitude. You have to be flexible and open to the changing environments. One must provide excellent customer services to internal and external customers. Overall, you have to be successful at stakeholder management.

The Marine Corps empowered me with invaluable skills that I use on a day-to-day basis in my line of work. I have a strong pride in my performance that enables me to beVets---Blanca driven. In the Marine Corps you constantly have to shift gears and take a new approach on things, this has enabled me to embrace changes and be more open minded. I remember my gunnery sergeant always saying, “You are a Marine 24/7,” meaning we had to hold ourselves at higher standards and be more of a role model to the public. I think of this when I provide customer service and strive to represent EN in the best way possible.

Throughout my entire military career I worked in a unit, maintaining constructive relationships. This enabled me to be a strong team player focused on the overall success of the team versus individual success. My military experience has prepared me for work in today’s energy industry.

Bob Schuetz, Plant General Manager

Vets---BobThe military culture has many similarities to the culture found at successful plants in the nuclear industry. Whatever their service or specialty, military veterans all recognize the importance of teamwork and camaraderie to organizational success. Veterans understand the need for clear standards and expectations, and then rigorously uphold and reinforce them. On this Veterans Day, take the time to honor their service, and thank them for choosing to be part of our team.

Randy C., Energy Services & Development

Vets---RandyI served six years in the nuclear Navy as a submariner. I operated the electric plant on board the USS Thomas Jefferson. My work today at the Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Project directly correlates to the experience I gained in the military with starting and stopping generating units, operating backup emergency generators and synchronizing separate power sources to each other and to the power grid. It was a tremendous learning experience and has served me well in the energy industry for more than 30 years.

Thank you to all who have served.

(Posted by John Dobken)

Bringing together military veterans and the energy industry

(Post by Kelley Ferrantelli, EN Human Resources)

Visit any nuclear energy facility control room across the country and it’s highly likely you will meet a veteran. The commercial nuclear energy industry grew alongside the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program – and the relationship between the two programs has grown stronger over the years. Not only in transitioning veterans to civilian jobs in nuclear plant operations, but in the Maintenance, Engineering, Health Physics and Security departments as well. The energy industry, and nuclear energy in particular, provides an outstanding career opportunity for veterans.

Reaching out to veterans

SignageThe Center for Energy Workforce Development, in partnership with the Edison Electric Institute and six pilot electric companies, developed the Troops to Energy Jobs Initiative. This initiative is designed to establish and maintain outreach to groups and companies across the country to assist in recruiting qualified veterans.

As part of the Troops to Energy Jobs initiative, Energy Northwest is expanding our partnership with regional military bases and veterans. As more members of our workforce prepare for retirement, the need for individuals with training and skills for our careers grows. In many cases, military veterans have the training and skills that directly correlate to the skills required for our positions and are a natural fit for the energy industry. Veterans have a strong sense of pride and fit well with our culture of excellence.

This effort is an ongoing partnership which can last for several months or even a couple years for the transitioning service member.

EN staff communicate with local and regional veterans representatives, bases, transition offices and service members directly for transition opportunities. Communication topics include translating military skills to the utility industry, resume preparation, job search skills, interview preparation, job applications, mentorships and networking.

We also participate in local and regional career fairs, including the Washington state Service Member for Life Transition Summit and Hiring our Heroes career fair held last week at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash.

Kelley Ferrantelli and Matt Evans talk with a job seeker at the career fair.

Kelley Ferrantelli and Matt Evans talk with a job seeker at the career fair.

I was joined there by Matt Evans, EN component group manager, and Spain Abney, Operations crew manager. Evans served in the Navy as a nuclear electrician. Abney served as an electrician’s mate on aircraft carriers.

Abney told me he enjoys talking to military personnel making the transition because he can help them translate their military experience into civilian applications. He says this is particularly important when it comes to creating a resume.

Spain Abney, right, provides information to an attendee at the career fair.

Spain Abney, right, provides information to an attendee at the career fair.

Abney can also deliver the message as to why the nuclear energy industry seeks out veterans. “They have the standards. The integrity they teach in the military where they own their performance. And their background and time they spent serving our country is the attitude and aptitude we seek as an employer.”

Nearly 6,000 transitioning service members and spouses were invited to attend the hiring event at JBLM last week. We talked to a number of strong candidates for opportunities in information services, maintenance, operations, radiation protection and supply chain. In addition, we made several connections for additional outreach and partnership opportunities.

Tips for other companies

Hiring veterans into the organization is clearly a win-win. Prior to implementing your strategy, complete benchmarking for best practices for your industry and obtain recommendations on a couple of key outreach partners to start building relationships. Identify a few internal veteran employees to help champion your efforts and help you with your outreach.

To learn more about the Troops to Energy Jobs Initiative, visit:

To learn more about career opportunities at Energy Northwest, visit our website.