Chloe Munro AO, the inaugural chair of the federal government’s Clean Energy Regulator, chair of the solar division of Impact investment Group, and leading Australian energy market expert, has died this week from cancer.
Munro headed up the CER for five years, first taking on the role when the Regulator was a start-up in 2012 and then seeing it through some of the most turbulent policy periods for Australia’s developing clean energy market.
After leaving the Regulator in 2017, Munro worked alongside former chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel on the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market, and in July of that year received the Clean Energy Council’s Outstanding Contribution to Industry Award.
In 2018, Munro was named as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to public administration through leadership roles in the area of renewable energy, water and climate change process and reform, and to the performing arts.
In that same year, Munro accepted the role of Professorial Fellow at Monash University and stepped up as chair to the board of directors for the solar energy investment funds of Impact Investment Group alongside fellow renewables veteran Lane Crockett.
In a LinkedIn post in March 2017, when Munro officially stepped down from the CER role, she described her time there as a “rare opportunity to shape a new institution with a central role in delivering Australia’s climate change commitments.
“I have a strong view that government policies, however well thought through, stand or fall by the quality of their execution,” Munro wrote.
Munro’s post noted the “long period of policy development and legislative change” that the CER had been forced to navigate over those five years, including the 2013 change of government and subsequent Tony Abbott-led abolition of the carbon tax and review of the Renewable Energy Target.
“Looking back, it’s hard to recall just how turbulent those early years were. We worked diligently to build a steady, capable and responsive institution. By and large, I think we achieved that goal,” Munro said.
“The numbers confirm that we delivered exceptional results under all our schemes, well beyond the expectations of most commentators and of our principal stakeholders. Yet we were never complacent and always sought out opportunities for improvement. I am confident this culture will persist after my departure.”
In a statement on Thursday, Clean Energy Council chief Kane Thornton said Munro would leave behind her “an enormous legacy… [as] a leader and pioneer who had a massive impact on the energy transition and many emerging leaders and women in the sector.
“Chloe envisaged a clean energy future long before it became the reality it is today. As the inaugural chair of the Clean Energy Regulator, she established the foundation for much of today’s industry success before going on to play a wide range of leadership and advisory roles in the sector,” Thornton said.
“She was a shining light for compassionate and strong leadership, particularly as a woman in an industry still dominated by men. Her formidable intellect was matched by her sense of style and a certain je ne se quoi.
“To me – and so many others – Chloe was a dear friend, a mentor and a great inspiration. Today we have lost someone special, but we will rise tomorrow to keep working toward the future she dedicated her life to.”
Chloe made a massive contribution to the Australian energy industry. In 2017 she was awarded the clean energy industry Outstanding Contribution award. She leaves an enormous legacy. pic.twitter.com/WuL9niqcIl
— Kane Thornton (@kanethornton) June 23, 2021
“Farewell to my friend and mentor Chloe Munro,” wrote Kobad Bavnagri, head of global industrial decarbonisation at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, on Twitter.
“I remember once calling her to discuss an issue, and she answered with her characteristic glowing warmth. I asked how she was always so cheerful. She said ‘oh that is just my way!’. She was a remarkable person, who I will truly miss.”
Energy economist Tim Nelson, formerly of AGL Energy, described Munro as “such an amazing person – generous with her time and a true leader.”
RenewEconomy founder and editor Giles Parkinson said Munro inspired many in the key roles she played in the industry.
“Chloe was a special person. She had a very astute understanding of not just the technologies, but the politics and the personalities of those that were deeply involved in the energy transition, either for or against. She had a very clear vision of the future and how we could there. She will be sorely missed.”
RenewEconomy lead reporter, Michael Mazengarb, recalled his time working with Munro in the early days of the Clean Energy Regulator.
“Chloe was such an enthusiastic leader and I was very lucky to have worked under her as she led the creation of the Clean Energy Regulator – responsible for so much of Australia’s response to climate change,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday.