Queensland’s publicly-owned electricity generator, CleanCo, has tapped former Origin Energy executive Maia Schweizer as its inaugural CEO.
The Queensland Labor government said on Thursday that Dr Schweizer, who is also a geoscientist and former consultant at McKinsey & Co, would take up the role on September 30, a month before CleanCo is slated to begin trading on the National Energy Market on October 31.
CleanCo’s overarching target is to support 1,000MW of new renewable energy generation in Queensland by 2025, by building, owning and operating new renewable energy projects and by contracting the output from investment in new renewable projects by others.
State energy minister Anthony Lynham said Schweizer had the experience to deliver on CleanCo’s mandate, including the initial delivery of up to 400MW of new renewable energy projects.
“The Palaszczuk government is delivering for Queenslanders with the lowest average wholesale electricity prices on the eastern seaboard, reliable supply and a smooth transition to a renewable future,” he said.
“I look forward to Dr Schweizer and the CleanCo board also delivering for their shareholders, the people of Queensland, on price, reliability and renewables, to underpin new investment and jobs.”
Schweizer takes up the role from interim CEO Miles George, who CleanCo chair Jacquie Walters said had been “invaluable” in establishing and preparing the business. George is expected to stay on for a short period after Schweizer takes the reins, to support the transition.
The appointment of a permanent CEO comes less than one month after the government unveiled a shortlist of 10 large-scale renewable and storage projects that would be competing for contracts in CleanCo’s Renewables 400 program.
Whittled down from more than 100 applications, the 10 shortlisted projects total more than 2,000MW of wind, solar and battery storage capacity, and include some of the most ambitious and biggest hybrid projects in the country.
These include Goldwind’s 800MW Clarke Creek wind farm with battery storage near Rockhampton, Acciona’s 540MW McIntyre wind farm near Stanthorpe, and Neoen’s Kaban renewable hub, including battery storage, near Ravenshoe.
The plan is for CleanCo to seek “binding bids” from the shortlisted projects later this year, and then recommend projects to government early next year.
Queensland’s deputy Premier, Jackie Trad, said on Thursday that the government was committed to improving competition in the state’s wholesale electricity market and supporting the growth of Queensland’s renewable energy industry.
And she said that Schweizer, whose appointment had been endorsed by the CleanCo board, was well suited to her new role, with a track record of achieving “outstanding results” in evolving and fast-moving environments.
“Maia’s extensive global experience in energy and infrastructure means she is well positioned to lead the newly established CleanCo as the organisation prepares to begin trading in the Australian National Energy Market on 31 October,” Trad said.
“Maia is a strong leader who has a proven track record in building and leading high-performing teams, and for forging positive relationships with stakeholders across the board.”
CleanCo chair, Jacqui Walters, also welcomed Schweizer’s appointment.
“The Board has full confidence that Maia will build CleanCo to be a truly competitive force in the energy market, focussed on improving electricity affordability and contributing to the achievement of Queensland’s 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030,” Walters said.
Schweizer’s appointment offers a welcome antidote to the latest antics from Queensland-based federal Nationals MP, Keith Pitt, who on Tuesday made a bizarre call for Queensland to quit the National Energy Market.