Congratulations to the inaugural winners of Cloud for Utilities’ Icon Awards

Honoring Utility Leaders and Innovators

The Icon Awards’ mission is to spotlight executives, projects, and organizations who are innovating and improving utilities. Nominations were sought and the winners were selected based off the strength of the nominations by a panel of judges from the Cloud for Utilities’ executive board. The inaugural awards were given to the recipients at the 2022 Digital + Cloud Summit in Los Angeles, and announcements congratulating each winner will run in the Wall Street Journal in their respective region.

CEO of the Year

Paul Lau
CEO and General Manager
Sacramento Municipal Utility District

The inaugural winner of this award sets a high bar for all of those who will follow: his forty-year career at SMUD began as a college internship and winded through nearly every business unit until he was named CEO and General Manager in 2020.

As CEO and GM, Mr. Paul Lau has spearheaded SMUD’s 2030 Zero Carbon Plan to eliminate all carbon emissions from SMUD’s power supply by 2030, one of the most ambitious carbon reduction goals of any utility in the United States. He has testified in front of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and under his leadership SMUD has innovated and accelerated the Sacramento region’s transition to a clean energy future, with a focus on equity to ensure all communities in SMUD’s service area benefit.

Technology Executive of the Year

Hari Kurup
Chief Information and Technology Officer
Prince William County Service Area

Mr. Hari Kurup is leading the digital transformation and cloud migration for the Prince William County Service Authority, an independent water and wastewater utility serving the second largest county in Virginia and one of the most diverse communities in the nation.

As Director of Enterprise Services at DC Water, Hari was instrumental in achieving their Cloud First strategy. He aided with the expansion of their Mobile Work Management solutions to operations and DC Water’s Blue Plains advanced wastewater treatment plant. He’s been recognized for his contributions and was selected to be Prince William County’s Chief Information and Technology Officer in April, where he will be responsible for their digital transformation and cloud migration.

Customer Executive of the Year

James Barnes
Chief Customer Officer
City of Tallahassee

Mr. James Barnes received glowing nominations, citing his expertise in problem-solving, his principle-centered service leadership, advocacy, and vision. Mr. Barnes serves as the visionary, advocate, and liaison to the city manager and service leads, including electric, gas, community beautification, and fire for the CIS/MDM implementation at the City of Tallahassee. Mr. Barnes has been instrumental in driving change and innovation in the city, encouraging steady improvement in customer service capabilities.

Innovation of the Year

New York Power Authority’s Cadenza Battery Storage System

New York Power Authority’s Cadenza Battery Storage System uses an innovation in lithium-ion battery technology to substantially improve fire safety and lower cost, improve energy density, and enhance demand generation and grid flexibility. NYPA is investigating the effectiveness of the energy storage system at reducing the peak load typical of a commercial building, which will allow them to serve their biggest customers more effectively and help meet their aggressive sustainability and energy storage goals.

Customer Innovation of the Year

Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Sustainable Communities Program

SMUD’s Sustainable Communities program aims to bring environmental equity and economic vitality to their historically under-served neighbors through education, in the classroom and the workforce. Using the Resource Priorities Community Map, SMUD can tailor their investments towards the customers that need it most. They also are helping to train the next generation of STEM professionals through internships, workforce development, and investments with local nonprofits.

To learn more about SMUD’s Sustainable Communities program, please visit

Utility Vanguard Award

Sponsored by IBM
Liberty Utilities

The Utility Vanguard Award, sponsored by IBM, recognizes a utility that has solidified itself as a market leader by moving fast and maximizing benefits of digital transformations within their IT strategy.

Liberty Utilities’ strategy is to double in size every five years through acquisition and currently has $13 Billion in Assets and $2.2 billion in Revenue. With a Customer-First strategy, Liberty’s multi-year transformation program, they are meeting and exceeding their customers’ increasing demands, setting a new standard, and raising the bar.

Innovation Icon Award

Ralph Izzo
Chairman, CEO, and President
Public Service Enterprise Group

Mr. Izzo served most recently as president, chairman and CEO of Public Service Enterprise Group. Throughout his decades-long career, Izzo led the utility industry and PSEG thrived. As he retires from PSEG, Cloud for Utilities recognizes his leadership and advocacy for the utility industry with our inaugural Innovation Icon award.

Do you know someone deserving of a 2023 Icon Award? Submit a nomination and learn more about the Icon Awards at