Electricity Authority board appointed

  • Gerry Brownlee
Energy and Resources

Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee today announced the members of the new Electricity Authority.

The Electricity Authority will be established on 1 November 2010, replacing the Electricity Commission under the provisions of the new Electricity Industry Act 2010, which came into force on 5 October.  The Electricity Authority will be responsible for promoting competition, reliable supply and efficient operation of the electricity market for the long-term benefit of consumers.

Dr Brent Layton, a former senior fellow and chief executive of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, has been appointed as chair.

Dr Layton also chaired the Electricity Technical Advisory Group, which undertook the review of the electricity sector last year, and has just completed chairing the Electricity Authority Establishment Board, which has overseen the transition from the Electricity Commission to the Authority.

Other board members are Susan Paterson and Elena Trout who, along with Dr Layton have been appointed for terms of five years, and David Bull and Roger Sowry, both of whom are Electricity Commission board members and have been appointed for 18 months.

"The appointments bring a strong mix of skills and experience to the Electricity Authority as well as providing for continuity between the work of the commission, the Electricity Authority establishment team and the new authority," Mr Brownlee said.

The establishment of the Electricity Authority is one of 29 measures the government is implementing to improve the performance of the electricity market.

The Electricity Authority will be an independent Crown entity under the Crown Entities Act.  Its key functions are:

  • making and administering the rules governing the electricity industry through an Electricity Industry Participation Code;
  • monitoring compliance with the code and other provisions in the Electricity Industry Act and regulations and take enforcement action;
  • undertaking market facilitation measures such as education and providing guidelines, information and model arrangements;
  • industry and market monitoring, and carrying out reviews, studies and inquiries into matters relating to the industry; and
  • contracting for market operation services and system operator services.

Further information on the Government's electricity reform package can be found online at www.med.govt.nz/electricity-market-review.


Electricity Authority board members

Dr Brent Layton (Chair)

Dr Layton is a former senior fellow and chief executive at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER).  He has been a director or chairman of organisations in sectors as diverse as banking and finance, health, scientific research, electricity, food processing, transport and information technology.

As a consultant, Dr Layton's work has spanned macro and microeconomics and corporate finance.  Much of his work has involved regulatory economics and responses to regulatory change. 

Dr Layton also chaired the Electricity Technical Advisory Group which, with the assistance of the Ministry of Economic Development, undertook the 2009 ministerial review of the electricity sector.

David Bull

Mr Bull's experience in the New Zealand electricity system includes 21 years as a power system engineer at the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand (ECNZ) and predecessor organisations, and more recently a term as an Electricity Commissioner.   

He is experienced in central government processes and stakeholder and community relationships, with five years as general manager responsible for local government and community services in the Department of Internal Affairs and 15 years as a Wellington City Councillor or Wellington Regional Councillor.

Mr Bull's governance and commercial experience includes chairing numerous city and regional council committees, and being a board member of the NZ Fire Service, Wellington Polytechnic Council and a director of Wellington International Airport.

Susan Paterson

Ms Paterson has been a professional director for the past 15 years, and has broad experience in business and management.  Currently she is deputy chair of Airways Corporation and Chair of Theta Systems, as well as being on several other boards.

She has held directorships at Transpower, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), and Ngawha Generation, and has worked as project director for the Wholesale Electricity Market Development Group (WEMDG), which led to the establishment of the wholesale electricity market in 1996.

Roger Sowry

Mr Sowry has extensive experience in the public sector and across a wide range of issues.  He was a Member of Parliament from 1990 to 2005.  From 1996 to 1999 he was Minister of Social Welfare and Associate Minister of Health.  When he retired from Parliament in 2005, he became chief executive of Arthritis New Zealand.

Mr Sowry is a private consultant with Saunders Unsworth, specialising in the management of public policy issues.  He is also a member of the Electricity Commission board and chair of the WELTEC and Whitireia Polytechnic Councils.

Elena Trout

Elena Trout has extensive experience as a manager, project director, consultant, and company director.  She has specialised in change management, asset management, contract procurement, and major project development and implementation.

Ms Trout's experience of New Zealand's electricity sector and governance comes from almost six years as a director of Transpower.  She is also an elected member of the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) board.