2020 SEPA Power Players Award Finalists | SEPA Skip to content

2020 SEPA Power Players Award Finalists


This award recognizes an individual who, while working in the energy industry, has demonstrated leadership and innovation to significantly advance an integrative perspective of clean energy, DER, grid modernization and its value as a resource to help meet the needs of their electricity consumers.

Jeff Guldner
Chairman of the Board and CEO, Arizona Public Service
Since his appointment as President in December 2018, Jeff Guldner has launched Arizona Public Service (APS) in a new direction, announcing a Clean Energy Commitment to deliver 100 percent clean, carbon-free and affordable electricity to their customers by 2050. This goal includes a nearer-term 2030 target of 65 percent clean energy, with 45 percent of the portfolio coming from renewable energy. Jeff has also made strategic organizational and leadership changes that align the company’s operations to support a future focused on customers, clean energy and economic development.

Duane Highley
Chief Executive Officer, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association
In his first year as CEO, Duane Highley has led one of the nation’s largest cooperative power suppliers through transformational changes to be cleaner. Under his leadership, Tri-State has significantly expanded renewables and greatly reduced emissions, as well as increased flexibility so members can develop more local renewables projects.

Lorraine Akiba
President & CEO – LHA Ventures
Lorraine Akiba’s countless contributions to shaping clean energy policy — starting in Hawaii, and then spreading to countries around the world — have directly led to innovative clean energy initiatives, sound policies and measurable clean-energy action plans that are building more resilient, sustainable communities working to combat the effects of climate change.




This IOU demonstrates industry leadership through unique innovation in an effort to significantly advance clean energy, DERs, grid modernization and its value as a resource to help meet the needs of their electricity consumers.

Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE)
Baltimore Gas & Electric launched several initiatives through its EmPOWER Maryland energy savings programs and additional internal company efforts to promote new technologies, provide customers with new opportunities to manage energy usage and costs, and increase overall customer satisfaction. Several 2019 initiatives, including Smart Home, Play-n-Save, Connected Communities, and EVsmart, have provided innovative solutions to reducing energy and contributing to active grid management.

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)
As part of San Diego Gas & Electric’s “Power Your Drive” program, SDG&E has installed more than 3,000 EV chargers at over 250 locations including multi-unit dwellings and workplaces. They are one of the first utilities in the nation to deploy chargers to this scale and couple them with an hourly dynamic grid integrated rate: the VGI Rate.

Southern California Edison (SCE)
Southern California Edison published Pathway 2045 – a data-driven analysis of the steps that multiple stakeholders in California — energy providers and consumers, policymakers, innovators and others — must take to meet the state’s ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals and reach carbon neutrality by 2045. SCE’s Clean Energy Optimization Pilot, Grid Management System and transportation electrification programs provide effective models of how to achieve decarbonization while building a clean energy future for all.



This Public Power Utility demonstrates industry leadership through unique innovation in an effort to significantly advance clean energy, DERs, grid modernization and its value as a resource to help meet the needs of their electricity consumers.

Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC)
OUC announced its goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030, 75% by 2040, as well as reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. In support of the goal, OUC launched three cutting-edge initiatives: 1) A “nanogrid” pilot project to integrate and optimally dispatch distributed energy resources, including solar, flow batteries, electric vehicles, and hydrogen production and storage to address solar intermittency and provide resiliency and demand charge mitigation for EV charging; 2) More than 20 weather stations and sky cameras (sky cams) installed across OUC’s service territory, through machine learning, will provide real-time data and forecasting on weather patterns, including cloud movements and density, that could impact solar power production; 3) Electrification Market Transformation, a multi-pronged approach to transform the electric vehicle market to increase adoption, harnessing a $45 million commitment over 10 years to support electrification initiatives.

Burlington Electric Department (BED)
Burlington Electric commissioned and made the first US Net-Zero 2030 plan available to the public in 2019. BED co-developed, tested, and piloted the first utility-sponsored blockchain-based demand response program, successfully disbursing over $12,000 to their customers. BED continues to support the DeltaClimeVT accelerator and has since launched a number of paid pilots with EVMatch, Go Together, and DCC around shared EVSE charging and car pooling.

Alectra Utilities
Alectra Utilities is the largest municipally-owned distribution company in Canada, and the second largest in North America. Alectra has several active pilot projects underway, including AlectraDrive and GridExchange, that aim to accelerate emerging, clean, and customer-friendly energy solutions. Alectra’s POWER.HOUSE™ pilot used a group of homes as a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) to evaluate the economic and grid benefits that residential solar storage can contribute to electricity customers and the electricity system in Ontario. In 2019, Alectra expanded the project and developed the Power.House Hybrid demonstration project to evaluate the potential to create net-zero energy emissions communities by integrating a hybrid set of electrical and thermal equipment into a VPP platform.



This Electric Cooperative demonstrates industry leadership through unique innovation in an effort to significantly advance clean energy, DERs, grid modernization and its value as a resource to help meet the needs of their electricity consumers.

North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives (NCEMC)
In coordination with its member cooperatives, NCEMC has led the development and enhancement of five microgrids that deliver environmental sustainability and power grid resiliency. NCEMC is also developing a Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) to enable the utilization of DER and edge-of-grid resources in a Virtual Power Plant.

Cobb Electric Member Corporation
A first of its kind project for cooperatives in Georgia, Cobb EMC has installed about 2 MW of rooftop solar on their campus and a 1MW Battery, all to demonstrate to their customers the benefits and opportunities of renewable energy. They have also planted Solar Flowers on their campus, to both track the sun, charge EVs through on-site charging stations, and help grow the interest and engagement for renewable energy and EVs.

Holy Cross Energy (HCE)
In 2018 the HCE Board adopted the Seventy70Thirty Plan, which established resource planning goals for the utility to attain 70% renewable supply by 2030. HCE is taking strong steps towards achieving these goals, including signing Power Purchase Agreements with a 100MW wind resource and with a 30MW solar resource in 2019. HCE provides industry-leading, successful support for its members’ installation of on-site renewable resources and energy storage. Their contributions to the utility industry also feature the Basalt Vista Project, a demonstration of distributed resource hierarchical control methods, including microgrid capabilities.



This award recognizes organizations, project teams and/or individuals who have demonstrated unique innovation and leadership in efforts to create new utility business models that advance the adoption of clean energy resources and help to achieve carbon reduction and clean energy goals.

Southern Company
Southern Company’s first-of-its-kind Smart Neighborhood® Initiative is a real-world R&D project designed to help inform how energy could be produced, delivered and consumed in the future. In Smart Neighborhoods designed and developed by Southern Company and its project partners, homeowners agree to allow data collection on power usage and environmental information from their homes which, along with data from the DERs, will provide researchers valuable operational experience as the company continues to evaluate microgrids, residential battery storage and rooftop solar. Data collected from the HVAC systems, heat pump water heaters and other technologies will help inform new programs and services that will better meet customer needs. The state-of-the-art homes and latest technologies benefit customers through improved comfort and convenience as well as lower operating costs. Additionally, Southern Company’s renewable energy subscription programs and grid investment plan demonstrate their commitment to building the future of energy.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
SMUD’s innovative Energy StorageShares program allows commercial customers to maximize the benefit from their investment in energy storage while minimizing SMUD’s cost to upgrade or deploy new infrastructure for the grid. In program, the first of its kind in that nation, eligible commercial customers make an up-front investment to SMUD for program participation, and in exchange, receive a monthly on-bill credit for a 10-year term. This reflects the savings an on-site battery would have provided for customer demand charge reduction. SMUD bundles the investments from the program participants with their own capital and procures a battery in a location that increases grid benefits. The program provides guaranteed savings to the customer without impacting their business operations, maintenance obligations or requiring physical space at their business for a battery system.

Austin Energy
Austin Energy recently proposed and successfully passed its ‘2030 Resource Plan’ committing to eliminate its existing emissions by setting a retirement date for its carbon-emitting generation plants, as well as through REACH, a market based approach to reduce carbon emissions from existing carbon generation. All generation resources in their portfolio will be carbon-free by 2035. Austin Energy also committed to providing moderate and limited-income customers preferential access to community solar programs as well as supporting the City of Austin Fleet Services’ electrification plan.



This award recognizes organizations, project teams and/or individuals who have demonstrated unique innovation and leadership in efforts to evolve state regulatory structures and processes in order to accelerate the adoption of clean energy resources and technologies at scale.

Washington State Department of Commerce
The WA State Department of Commerce spearheaded a new Electric Water Heater standard that will dramatically improve the opportunity for demand response and grid flexibility. Commerce leadership recognized the future need for large scale load shifting from domestic water heating, and established the opportunity to start building that capability in the near term. The passing of WA State SB 5116 in April 2019 created the CTA-2045 requirement in WA State code.

Hawaii Public Utilities Commission
Often serving as an industry leader on electricity reforms, the Hawaii PUC has stewarded the state’s energy transition by managing policy investigations and reviewing new utility programs and planning processes, while simultaneously tending to its core responsibilities for utility rate cases and oversight of other industries. By looking at both performance and revenue adjustment mechanisms, Hawaii’s updated PBR framework is expected to drive transformation throughout the state’s electricity system. With PBR complemented by integrated grid planning and innovative DER policies, the Hawaii PUC is pushing a portfolio of reforms to more effectively integrate and holistically value clean and distributed energy.

Electrification Reach Codes Initiative Project Team
Co-led by Peninsula Clean Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy, this ambitious initiative is made up of 40 partners working to incorporate all-electric building and electric vehicle readiness into innovative regional local codes. The program, still ongoing, is delivering a major advance in decarbonization in the building sector through technical and programmatic approaches. By Q1 2020, the initiative developed and supported first-in-the-nation model codes resulting in 16 agencies adopting codes to-date with more expected.



This award recognizes organizations, project teams and/or individuals who have demonstrated unique innovation and leadership in efforts to integrate clean energy and distributed energy resources (DERs) into the grid to help achieve carbon reduction and clean energy goals, and meet the needs of their electricity consumers.

Southern California Edison’s Grid Management System (GMS) Project Team
SCE’s Grid Management System (GMS) Project Team is transforming its separate Distribution Management System and Outage Management System into a flexible and networked platform that empowers customers with options for leveraging DERs to provide grid services through active grid management. The GMS features a highly resilient, cyber-secure, interoperable and flexible design and offers a clear model for advancing clean energy goals, supporting the deployment of DERs and enabling customers to make smart and affordable clean energy choices.

Basalt Vista Affordable Housing Project
As the first net-zero, all-electric affordable housing community, the Basalt Vista affordable housing project is showcasing the next generation of grid integration possibilities. Developed as a partnership between government agencies, non-profits, private businesses, and utilities, Basalt Vista will consist of 27 all-electrical housing units, each outfitted with solar panels, energy storage systems, high-efficiency cold-climate heat pumps, and electric vehicle charging stations. The homes will act as microgrids that can operate independently, or can be leveraged and controlled in the aggregate by the local utility to coordinate load and generation on the electric grid.

Heron’s Nest Microgrid
The Heron’s Nest Environmental Village neighborhood microgrid is an eco-friendly and sustainable residential community microgrid. A collaboration between Brunswick Electric, the local distribution cooperative, and its G&T, NCEMC, the project utilizes many energy-efficient and DERs including a 62 kW community solar array, a 255 kWh battery energy storage system and home DER components such as smart thermostats, water heater controllers, and 3 kW residential solar panels. The community solar and battery storage resources will be managed by an onsite microgrid controller that will be used to island the neighborhood from the distribution system during a loss of power to the site and deploy resources as a demand response asset while grid connected.



This award recognizes organizations, project teams and/or individuals who have demonstrated unique innovation and leadership in efforts to advance transportation electrification in the electric utility domain, especially Vehicle Grid Integration (VGI) efforts.

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) Up & Go Electric Program
PSE’s Up & Go Electric is a comprehensive transportation electrification portfolio, which includes a suite of offerings aimed at addressing customer pain points around vehicle charging, while also broadly supporting electric vehicle market transformation throughout the Pacific Northwest. Components include a residential off-peak charging program, EV education and outreach, and low-income pilot projects to promote transportation electrification inclusivity to customers across different demographics and geography. Through Up & Go’s efforts, PSE is beginning to understand and prepare for charging load management.

Karim Farhat
Director of Mobility Solutions, ENGIE Impact
Over the past several years, Karim has launched, led, and supported several initiatives focused on advancing Vehicle Grid Integration (VGI) in California and beyond. Karim was a driving force behind the California Vehicle Grid Integration Working Group (VGIWG), the impact and achievements of which will reach far beyond the state of California, setting the stage for a national approach to framing and articulating VGI opportunities, policies, and solutions. Karim’s efforts also extend beyond VGIWG, actively helping to shape strategy in the VGI Roadmap (led by the California Energy Commission), the DER Roadmap (led by the California Energy Commission), and Senate Bill 676 “Transportation electrification: electric vehicles: grid integration” (California Legislature).

Con Edison – SmartCharge NY Program
Con Edison’s SmartCharge New York is the first electric vehicle (EV) off-peak charging incentive program that uses the vehicle’s smart functionality to monitor charging behavior to pay off-the-bill cash rewards. For the majority of the enrolled vehicles, a free connected car device is provided to participants to plug into the onboard diagnostics port of the vehicle. Con Edison currently has 34 different makes and models enrolled in the SmartCharge New York program using the connected device and a total of 2,000 electric vehicles. These vehicles earn up to $1,000 annually by participating in the program. Since the inception of the program, close to 25% of all privately-owned, light-duty EVs registered in the Con Edison service area have applied to the program.