Energy Incorporated: Part 0

by Dan Hughes

Energy Incorporated was formed by Chuck Rice, Norm Sowards, Roger Griebe, and Lois Nickum.

Chuck passed away in 2013. That Obituary says, in part:

Chuck served as president and CEO of both the Idaho Nuclear Corporation and Aerojet Nuclear Corporation, with responsibility for management of the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. In 1972, he founded the first successful technology spinoff company from the INEL — Energy Incorporated (aka EI). He went on to do management consulting in fields ranging from utility/regulatory disputes, nuclear power plant operation management and space defense initiative efforts.

As mentioned in the obituary, Chuck Rice founded Energy Incorporated in 1972. And EI was indeed very successful. As with all consulting firms, that success was due solely to the employees and EI’s assets walked out the door every day. Many EI employees have remained active in the industry for decades after leaving the company and built very successful careers; all who worked there have flourished in their careers. A few have continued working to this day. Eventually, EI expanded to include actual hardware widget products. Not of the hi-volume commodity type, but specilized products.

I was looking for the meanings of some olde acronyms, and I ran into this Web site: Scientech’s Fleet Asset Management and Optimization Solutions (FAMOS). I recall that PEPSE, PMAX, and R*TIME, and maybe other systems, were developed by EI employees. I also think EI developed computer hardware systems to go along with some of these? I recall that an early product was Safety Parameter Display System (SPDS) and an infamous contract for the South Texas Nukey Project, I think..

One of the main outcomes of the EI history with which I am familiar was establishment of a company that was based on the RETRAN code. Computer Simulation & Analysis, inc. (CSAi) was formed 29 years ago, also in Idaho Falls, by Ken Moore, Jim McFadden, Craig Peterson, and Mark Paulsen. CSAi is now the CSA-Analysis Division of Zachry Nuclear Engineering, Inc. If we measure the beginnings of RETRAN from 1974, the code has been the basis of successful careers for over 40 years now. And the basis of successful safety-grade applications to analyses of every nuclear power reactor built in the USA.

The PEPSE project also has had a long and successful life. And some have very successfully based their entire career on this project.

I’m hoping we’ll get updates on the products and services that originated in the early days of EI. And, especially the people associated with them. I’m also hoping that someone will straighten out the whole EI/Scientech/Brown and Root/Curtiss-Wright/&etc timeline.

When I joined EI in July 1975, us grunts were located in downtown Idaho Falls on the second floor of The Bank Building at the corner of Broadway and Shoup Avenue. I don’t recall which bank. (Click on the photos to get an embiggened version)


Corporate Headquarters, and the Executive Suites, were located across Shoup on the second floor of this building.


Sometime later, early 1980s maybe, we all moved to EI Intergalactic Headquarters on the semi-arid High Desert Plain at Energy Drive on the outskirts of Idaho Falls. It was not long after we departed downtown that many of our favorite bars and beer joints started to be converted to Lawyer’s offices. While in Idaho falls as part of a family vacation in beautiful Teton Valley in 2007, I learned that Ford’s Bar had been converted to a karaoke place. Still can’t make that mental conversion from the wonderful, smoke-filled, country-music-filled, buckle-polishing slow dancing, beer joint, Idaho historical site to, shudder, karaoke.


Still later, mid-to-late 1990s maybe, some remnants of EI, the PEPSE project for one, were located in an abandoned J C Penny store in downtown Idaho Falls. By this timeframe I started to loose touch with all the pieces parts when I left Idaho Falls for Los Alamos, New Mexico, in 1996.


More later, maybe.


2 thoughts on “Energy Incorporated: Part 0

  1. Hello, Dan. EIEIO was the password we typed on many a punch cards in those days. I was at EI from 1975 to 1980. I was the unofficial help desk for many everyday users. For the real nitty gritty computer issues, Art McClure was the expert. For overlays and segmented loading and dynamic dimensioning of RELAP/RETRAN, I learned from Craig Peterson, Mark Paulsen, and Dave Fjeld. I worked with Jim Harrison, Whee Choe to add models to RELAP95 to create RELAP/E for EPRI, which became RETRAN. I was the unheralded developer of control system model for that series of codes, enabling them to model operational transients. Fred Lang, Gene Minner, Wade [last name forgotten], and I developed PEPSE. My contribution was the adaptive algorithm to find the steady-state solution for any user-specified balance of plant model. Change of subject here: I remember the Christmas party high-kickimg hi-jinx referenced in Garry Gose’s comment. The best drag queen was Claire [last name withheld, but not forgotten]. I probably have pictures somewhere buried appropriately in a dark corner of a closet.


  2. I remember that Norm Yee was also the master of RETRAN control systems. He put a lot of the original stuff in. To this day, along with the steady state stuff, is the main reason RETRAN is still alive.



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