Businessman, nuclear physicist
Lives in: Cranbury, New Jersey
New Jersey Hall of Fame, Class of 2022: Enterprise
If you want to move a 100-year-old power utility into a future of efficient, sustainable energy, you might seek out a nuclear physicist with strong management skills. That’s what Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG) did when it turned to Ralph Izzo for corporate leadership.
Izzo had been educated at Columbia University, where he pitched for the varsity baseball team, earned a bachelor of science and a master’s degree, both in mechanical engineering, and a doctorate in applied physics—a field that looks at the practical uses of scientific knowledge. He also holds a master of business administration degree, with a concentration in finance, from the Rutgers Graduate School of Management.
Izzo’s career began as a research scientist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, performing numerical simulations of fusion energy experiments. He then worked for Senator Bill Bradley, advising on funding for fusion labs, and was a senior science-policy advisor for Governor Thomas Kean.
After joining PSEG in 1992, Izzo moved steadily up the corporate ladder, holding various executive positions within PSEG’s family of companies, including PSE&G senior vice president/utility operations; PSEG vice president/corporate planning; PSE&G vice president/electric ventures; and PSE&G president and chief operating officer.
In October 2006, Izzo was named PSEG president with a seat on the corporate board. The following April, he was picked as chairman and CEO. In this post, Izzo earned a reputation as a leader in the development of a safe and sustainable energy strategy, not just for PSEG, but for the state as a whole, with a special emphasis on energy efficiency. In April 2022, he announced his intention to retire at the end of the year.
Looking at the state’s progress on energy, Izzo told New Jersey Monthly in 2019: “We’re doing a good job of investing in clean technologies like preserving existing nuclear, investing in new solar, and investing in new offshore wind.” However, he added, “when you look at the costs associated with those new technologies…you can achieve the same carbon reductions for far less expense by investing in energy efficiency. That’s not to say we shouldn’t do the solar and wind. It just means that we haven’t done enough of the energy efficiency.”
In addition to his academic degrees, Izzo has received honorary degrees from Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Thomas Edison State University, Bloomfield College, Rutgers University, and Raritan Valley Community College.
Izzo serves as chair of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and is a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee. He also is on numerous boards, including the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited (NEIL), the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.