Austin, Texas (April 17, 2024) – Zpryme, a research-based firm with services focused on energy and technology, announced today that Raiford Smith, Chief Utility Innovation Officer of AES’ US Utilities – AES Indiana and AES Ohio, has been selected as the 2024 ETS Thought Leader of the Year. Smith was chosen for the recognition amongst a group of peers following voting by ETS alumni and committee members. 

ETS, or Energy Thought Summit, is Zpyrme’s signature annual event, bringing energy and industry thought leaders together from all over the world to share ideas and work to solve some of today’s most pressing energy problems.. 

The ETS Thought Leader of the Year award salutes an individual among the ETS community of thought leaders who possesses the type of inventive and brave vision needed to inspire the global energy ecosystem toward sustainable modernization.

“It’s an honor to be this year’s ETS Thought Leader of the Year,” says Smith. “I am happy and humbled to be joining the ranks of those that came before me, and I am so proud of the work we’ve done at AES, and will continue to do, to create innovative energy solutions for every customer.”

Previous award winners include Emeka Anyanwu, Energy Innovation and Resource Officer of Seattle City Light (now CEO)(2023), Jackie Sargent, General Manager of Austin Energy (retired)(2022), Paul Lau, CEO and General Manager of SMUD (2021), Calvin G. Butler, Senior Vice President and COO at Exelon (now CEO)(2020), and Gil C. Quiniones, the former President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Power Authority (NYPA)(now CEO of ComEd) (2019).   

This year for the second time, Zpryme partnered with the Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions’ American-Made EnergyTech University Prize (EnergyTech UP)! In EnergyTech UP, student teams competed for over $400,000 in cash prizes for successfully identifying a promising energy technology, assessing its market potential, and creating a business plan for commercialization.

Multidisciplinary student teams developed and presented a business plan that leverages National Renewable Energy Laboratory-developed or other high-potential energy technologies, including university-developed technologies or other technologies of interest to student competitors. 

The national winners in this year’s competition were Team Rise Reforming from The University of Chicago . A full list of winners can be found here


For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Bethany Ruhe


About Zpryme

Based in Austin, Texas, Zpryme is a research-based firm with agency-geared services focused on energy and technology. Based on the creative direction of our associates, Zpryme produces influential research and events that challenge the status quo and offer innovative marketing solutions for fully-immersive brand experiences. For more information, visit