Azeb Asnake, CEO of Ethiopia Electric Power, was named the 2017 Power Generation Woman of the Year.
In early 2013, a group of industry women, dubbed the Women in Power committee, assembled in Orlando, Fla., to figure out how to honor women who have dedicated their careers to the power industry (a field dominated with men making up more than 75 percent of the workforce, according to estimates), to stimulate more women to embark on careers in energy. To do this, the committee decided to allow anyone in the industry to nominate a woman for a Woman of the Year Award.
Azeb Asnake, who receive the award during Power Generation Week, is responsible for the construction and operation of generation plants, transmission lines and substations as well as overseeing the sale of electricity to neighboring Sudan, Djibouti and border towns of Kenya. When she first entered the industry, Ethiopia’s electric energy was mainly hydro based and the generation capacity was 2,430 MW. Since then, generation has grown to 4,500 MW. One goal of Ethiopian Electric Power under her guidance is to become a power hub of Africa and reach a generation capacity of 17,000 MW by 2020 to create a system that will carry and sustain the economy level of a middle-income country.
Woman of the Year finalists were selected based on three categories, giving more weight to their achievements in the power generation industry. In addition, the committee judged nominees by their leadership abilities, as well as the ability to collaborate with, influence, and mentor others. Finally, the committee also considered that a potential Power-Gen Woman of the Year should affect her community through industry associations and other organizations.
The other two finalists were:
Pamela Rauch, Vice President of External Affairs at Florida Power and Light, the third largest integrated electric utility in the U.S. Rauch is responsible for all local government relations, economic development and community relations and outreach in Florida, a state that is growing at a faster rate than the national average.
Caroline Winn, COO of San Diego Gas and Electric, the first California utility to deliver 33 percent of its energy from renewable resources — five years ahead of the state’s 2020 mandate. Winn became COO in January 2017 and previously served as chief energy delivery officer, overseeing all energy delivery activities, including electric distribution operations and gas services, customer services, and external and state legislative affairs.
Past winners are Roxann Laird — Southern Company (2016), Kim Greene, Southern Company (2015); Mary Powell, Green Mountain Power (2014); and Ria Persad, StatWeather (2013).