KNOWLEDGE, INNOVATION, TECHNOLOGY AND EXCELLENCE: These are the characteristics that set leaders apart from the pack. During the Knowledge2011 Intelligent Utility Executive Summit, executives from IT, customer service and operations were recognized-leaders who have moved their companies forward through strategic initiatives, measurable technology efforts, and innovative solutions that have met business objectives, such as higher efficiency, greater production, measurement and profitability. In addition, we recognized the top three leaders in Intelligent Utility magazine's UtiliQ top 25 (see pp. 34).
CIO of the Year
Reid Nuttall, vice president and CIO of OGE Energy, was presented the award for CIO of the Year for his innovation in the area of orchestrating smart grid at the right pace. One nominator wrote: "Reid has also taken a thoughtful and purposeful approach to smart grid security and is building bridges between operational technology and information technology."
Nuttall has worked with OGE since early 2006. As CIO, he is a leader in the transformation of OG&E electric services, allowing both the utility and its customers to benefit from new smart grid technologies. In partnership with its customers, OG&E (a subsidiary of OGE) is building the Positive Energy Smart Grid to improve energy efficiency.
Nuttall's nominator noted: "Nuttall's vision is in line with the corporate vision to enable the smart grid. In the short time he has been with OGE he has been able to understand the needs of the business and articulate a road map for reliability and customer engagement in the future." In addition: "All of the employees from OGE that I have talked with since Reid has been on board have been enthusiastic and energized by his approach-especially those in IT."
Customer Service Leader of the Year
Gregory Knight, division vice president of customer services for regulated operations for CenterPoint Energy Inc., was named Customer Service Leader of the Year for his visionary leadership and focus on CenterPoint's technology efforts around business process improvement and the voice of the customer.
Knight manages CenterPoint Energy's electric and natural gas call centers, customer service training and quality assurance, billing exception management, and gas credit and collections, a position he has held since 2009. In total, he has more than 18 years of customer service and business operations experience, in both service industries and utilities.
Knight's nominator said: "Gregory has been at the forefront of the emerging focus in utilities around customer engagement. His vision is to be able to benchmark CenterPoint with best-in-class operations within and outside the utility industry. He believes that prudent capital investment in customer service technology can benefit customers and the utility's bottom line."
Operations Leader of the Year
Paul Lau, assistant general manager, customer, distribution and technology, for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, was awarded Operations Leader of the Year for his vision and stewardship of SMUD's smart meter and smart grid deployment effort.
Lau is responsible for overseeing SMUD's retail and technology operations including customer services, energy delivery, energy efficiency, customer renewable programs, telecommunication and enterprise business applications. He has worked with SMUD for almost 30 years in the utility's distribution services and customer services departments.
His nominator wrote: "Paul faces constant pressure to maintain a low cost of service while demonstrating that SMUD is a progressive utility. He was instrumental in assisting SMUD in receiving considerable ARRA funding for Smart Sacramento. He has since led the deployment of the smart grid and smart meters in a manner that has been embraced by the community as a whole."
UtiliQ 2011 Utility of the Year
For the third straight year, Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) leads the country as the most intelligent utility in America, according to the annual UtiliQ survey of U.S. electric utilities.
The UtiliQ ranking is based on a company's performance using five quantifiable intelligence metrics, including productivity, renewable energy portfolio, smart initiatives, energy efficiency, demand response and load management programs (and customers enrolled) and IT investment. We believe that the few companies with IQs over 140 are at near genius level compared with the rest of the industry.
SDG&E topped the rankings at a combined utility intelligence quotient of 169.3.
The company's award was accepted by Lee Krevat, director of the smart grid initiative for Sempra Energy's California regulated utilities, SDG&E's and Southern California Gas Company, and James Avery, Sempra Energy's senior vice president of power supply.
UtiliQ 2011 First & Second Runners-up
Last year's first and second runners-up flip-flopped positions this year, a definite indication that the neck-and-neck UtiliQ race between the two last year is still a close one.
This year, PG&E Corporation nabbed second place, with a combined utility intelligence quotient of 157.6, and Austin Energy was close behind in third place, with a combined utility IQ of 153.2.