Institute for Northwest Energy Futures appoints Noel Schulz inaugural director

Closeup of WSU First Lady Noel Schulz.
Noel Schulz

RICHLAND, Wash. — Noel Schulz has been appointed the inaugural director of WSU Tri‑Cities’ Institute for Northwest Energy Futures (INEF). Schulz’s wealth of experience and expertise in the fields of engineering and energy will be an asset for INEF as the institute helps to further establish the Tri‑Cities as an energy hub for the state of Washington and the nation.

Schulz is the Edmund O. Schweitzer III Chair in Power Apparatus and Systems in the WSU Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture. Her experience includes teaching courses in renewable and distributed energy generation, energy conversion, and smart grid technologies. Her published research focuses on power systems modeling and analysis, smart grid applications, microgrids, renewable energy, and shipboard power systems, and her work has been funded by several agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Energy, Defense, and Homeland Security.

“I am honored to be the INEF inaugural director and work with WSU Tri‑Cities’ Chancellor Haynes. INEF provides an excellent opportunity for WSU to leverage system expertise including all campuses and extension to advance clean energy solutions across the region, state and beyond,” said Schulz. “I look forward to relocating to the Tri‑Cities area and working more closely with WSU Tri‑Cities and local leaders on energy-related topics.”

Centered at the WSU Tri‑Cities campus, INEF utilizes scientific expertise to guide the transition into maintaining safe, economic, and reliable energy systems. These systems aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and have more equitable social outcomes through a systems approach, as the demand for more resilient, affordable, and available low-carbon electricity and transportation fuels increases. The INEF initiative will integrate new and existing scientific capacity in engineering, the environment, economics, business, and society to produce objective research and analysis. The goal is to act as a conduit between science and policy for the clean energy transition and communicate it effectively to consumers.

“The Institute for Northwest Energy Futures will bridge the gap between science and policy for innovations in clean energy by leveraging WSU research expertise in power, transportation, fuels, and other areas in a systems analysis approach. Located on the Washington State University Tri‑Cities campus, WSU and research partners such as the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are well-positioned to leverage scientific expertise to translate advancements in research into development of resilient clean energy transitions aimed to lower greenhouse gas emissions and address equity issues in energy policy and production,” said Christopher Keane, vice president for research at WSU and vice chancellor for research at WSU Pullman. “As a nationally recognized expert in power systems engineering, Noel brings a wealth of scientific knowledge that will help to establish connections and collaborations needed to integrate WSU’s relevant scientific capacity with the Institute, communities, industry, and policymakers.”

Earlier this year, the state approved $7.7 million for the 2023–25 biennium to hire researchers and staff and secure a new facility to house the institute. The institute will hire eight scientists and engineers — five, including the director, will be located at WSU Tri‑Cities, and three will be at WSU Pullman. The WSU Tri‑Cities scientists will bring experience in energy data analytics, social impacts, life cycle assessment, and techno-economic analysis.

“Dr. Schulz brings a depth and breadth of experience to this position that will be necessary to move the institute forward,” said Sandra Haynes, chancellor of WSU Tri‑Cities. “Her work with the PNNL/WSU Advanced Grid Institute is of particular relevance and will serve her in building out INEF. She is a proven leader, educator, researcher, and collaborator ready to bring INEF to its full potential.”

For more information about INEF and WSU Tri‑Cities, visit

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