New AEMC chair – a head of innovation – to embrace rapid market transformation

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The appointment of a new chair of the Australian Energy Market Commission, leading energy lawyer and “head of innovation” Anna Collyer, has been welcomed by the energy sector, seeing it an opportunity for the AEMC to embrace faster reforms to keep pace with the accelerating transformation of Australia’s energy sector.

Collyer comes to the AEMC as a partner at the law firm Allens, as well as the firm’s head of innovation, and previously served as the firm’s head of energy, resources and infrastructure practise group, which involved experience in adapting legal services to integrate new and emerging technologies.

Collyer will already be familiar with both the AEMC and the challenges faced by the electricity sector having been engaged in energy reform work undertaken by both the AEMC and the former COAG Energy Council.

Collyer said that she recognised the rapid amount of change occurring within the energy market, and that it was a crucial time to be stepping into the leadership position. Collyer will formally take on the role in February next year.

“As someone who is focussed on taking a partnership approach to developing solutions, I am very much looking forward to joining the AEMC, which has a strong reputation for deep thinking and effective collaboration,” Collyer said.

“Rapid advances in technology are affecting all aspects of our lives but this is particularly so in energy, where the system’s transformation presents unique opportunities and challenges. It is an important time to be working in the energy sector.”

Collyer’s appointment was welcomed by both the energy sector, with a general consensus that Collyer’s previous experience with energy law, and active involvement in energy market reforms ensured that she was well placed to take on a leadership position at the AEMC.

“Ms Collyer’s distinguished career as a lawyer and previous roles in the energy sector equip her extremely well to lead the AEMC,” the Australian Energy Council chief executive Sarah McNamara said.

“Her work on energy sector reform via the COAG Energy Council and the AEMC, and her proven track record of working constructively with government and industry stakeholders on energy market reforms represents an ideal blend of experience, skills and strategic knowledge.”

Collyer said that she has a particular interest in serving as a role model and advocate for women at in the workplace. With Collyer’s appointment to the AEMC chair, it sees virtually all of the major energy regulatory bodies currently being lead by women, with Audrey Zibelman at AEMO, Clare Savage at the AER and Kerry Schott leading the Energy Security Board.

Collyer replaces previous AEMC chair John Pierce, who stood down from the role in June, having spent ten years in the role. Pierce brought a significant amount of governance experience to the role, having held a number of senior positions within the NSW government, but gain some detractors who saw Pierce as failing to keep up with the pace of change occurring in the Australian energy sector, and failing to respond to the emergence of technologies and changing consumer expectations.

Energy Networks Australia likewise welcomed Collyer’s appointment, expressing confidence that the former Allens partner would be the right person to keep pace with the rapid rate of change in the energy market.

“The rate of change in the energy industry is rapid and relentless as we work to accommodate an increasingly renewables-based system and address the challenges and opportunities that presents,” Energy Networks Australia chief executive Andrew Dillon said. “There are a raft of review and reform processes underway that will shape the future of the energy sector and the AEMC has a pivotal role as rule maker and key policy adviser.”

“It is vital in this environment that our regulatory and governance systems adapt to keep pace with this change and that they focus on customer outcomes.”

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