Electricity Authority Establishment Board appointed

  • Gerry Brownlee
Energy and Resources

Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee today announced the formation of the Electricity Authority Establishment Board.

The board's job is to set up the Electricity Authority, which will replace the Electricity Commission by 1 October.

Dr Brent Layton, a senior fellow and former 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 with the assistance of the Ministry of Economic Development.

Other board members are Simon Botherway, Miriam Dean, Roger Sowry, Peter Harris and David Caygill.

"These skilled and experienced people are responsible for setting the strategic direction for the new Electricity Authority and the development of its operational structure," Mr Brownlee said.

"I'm confident we've assembled the right people to manage a smooth process as we bed in the decisions coming out of last year's ministerial review."

The Establishment Board will be accountable to the Minister of Energy and Resources for its performance.  The appointments run to 30 September 2010 and will commence immediately.  Board appointments to the inaugural Electricity Authority Board will be announced at a later date.


Following the 2009 ministerial review into the electricity market, the establishment of a new electricity regulator to replace the Electricity Commission is one of 29 measures the government is implementing to improve the performance of the electricity market.

The objective of the Electricity Authority is to promote competition, reliable supply and efficient operation of the electricity market for the long-term benefit of consumers.  The Electricity Authority will focus on market facilitation, monitoring and rule making.

The Electricity Authority will be an independent Crown entity under the Crown Entities Act.

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

Electricity Authority Establishment Board Members

Dr Brent Layton (Chair)

Dr Layton is a senior fellow at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research. 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 a review of the electricity sector and recommended a number of changes to improve competition, security of supply, and governance in the New Zealand electricity market.

Simon Botherway

Mr Botherway has considerable experience in the investment advisory industry and the broader financial services sector.  He founded Brook Asset Management and was its executive chair until December 2008. 

Mr Botherway is a chartered financial analyst, a professional designation accorded by the CFA Institute.  He was also recently appointed to the Securities Commission.

Peter Harris

Mr Harris possesses a comprehensive understanding of public sector management and governance issues from his role with the Electricity Commission and his involvement in national and international industry and economic development projects. 

He has been a member of the Electricity Commission board since its start in 2003. 

Miriam Dean QC

Ms Dean has extensive governance and commercial law experience.  A former partner at law firm Russell McVeagh, she is currently a barrister sole.  Her practise focuses on commercial and competition law, arbitration and mediation.  She was made a Queen's Counsel in 2004.

Ms Dean has recently been appointed as a member of the Auckland Transition Authority and was a member of the Electricity Technical Advisory Group that undertook the electricity review last year.

David Caygill

Mr Caygill is the current chair of the Electricity Commission and has a deep understanding of the electricity sector.  He is also an associate member of the Commerce Commission for electricity purposes, and a board member of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. 

He chaired the ministerial inquiry into the Electricity Sector in 2000.  He was also the chair of the Grid Security Committee (1997-2003) and of the Electricity Governance Establishment Committee, which was the industry's attempt at evolving self-governance.  The work carried out on these committees was substantial and involved the entire sector. 

From 1984 until 1990 he was a cabinet minister including Minister of Trade and Industry, Minister of Health and Minister of Finance. 

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, a not for profit organisation employing over 70 staff nationwide. 

He is currently a private consultant with Saunders Unsworth, specialising in the management of public policy issues.  He is also a member of the Electricity Commission board.