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  Saturday, July 26, 2003

 Local News

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FirstEnergy names replacement for retiring nuclear operations boss

Robert F. Saunders, president and chief nuclear officer of FirstEnergy's Nuclear Operating Company subsidiary, plans to retire Feb. 1, 2004.

FENOC executive vice president Gary R. Leidich will become president and chief nuclear officer, effective Sept. 1.

Until his retirement, Saunders will continue to work closely with Leidich to ensure a smooth transition, and to assist in the Davis-Besse restoration and related oversight activities.

Saunders, 60, joined FirstEnergy in February 2000, after nearly 30 years in the nuclear power industry. Prior to joining the company, he served as vice president of Nuclear Site Operations at Pennsylvania Power and Light's Susquehanna Nuclear Site.

As a U.S. Navy veteran, Saunders joined Virginia Power in 1975 as an engineer at the Surry Nuclear Power Station. He was named station manager in 1984; assistant vice president of Nuclear Operations in 1990; vice president of Nuclear Operations in 1993; and vice president of Nuclear Engineering in 1996.

Leidich, 53, began his career with The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. in 1974 as an associate engineer, and held various supervisory positions involving the engineering, construction and operation of the Perry Nuclear Power Plant from 1975 to 1986.

He was named director of system planning for Centerior Energy, the parent company of CEI, in 1987, and director of human resources in 1991. He was named vice president of finance and administration and chief financial officer in 1993, and president of the Power Generation Group in 1995, a position that he held until the 1997 merger of Centerior Energy and Ohio Edison that created FirstEnergy.

In 1998, Leidich became executive vice president of INPO. He rejoined FirstEnergy in his current position in June 2002.

Leidich received his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering and master of science degree in engineering science, both from The University of Toledo. He completed the Public Utilities Executive Program at the University of Michigan in 1988.

Leidich is a member of the American Nuclear Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and is a registered professional engineer in Ohio.

Originally published Saturday, July 26, 2003

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