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Electricity Commission appointed

Electricity Commission appointed

Energy Minister Pete Hodgson today announced the membership of the new Electricity Commission, due to start work this week.

The new Commission will supervise New Zealand's electricity industry. Its primary tasks will include electricity market governance, such as overseeing the operation of the electricity market and ensuring efficient transmission investment. It will also be responsible for ensuring New Zealand's electricity supply is secure, even in very dry years, through measures including contracting for reserve generation.

Roy Hemmingway, from Oregon, USA will chair the Commission.

"Mr Hemmingway brings to the Commission extensive experience in the regulatory management of electricity and other private utilities," Mr Hodgson said. "His most recent position was chairperson of the Oregon Public Utility Commission, with a staff of 120. His achievements included the development of policy for a competitive electricity market and the establishment of agencies to encourage energy efficiency and renewable resource investments."

Mr Hemmingway has also worked as an energy consultant to a range of commercial and public sector clients. He has a law degree from Yale University and has lectured at the Northwestern College of Law.

"The position of chairman was advertised in New Zealand and overseas and I am very pleased we have succeeded in securing someone of such high calibre," Mr Hodgson said.

In addition to the chairperson there will be five Commission members.

David Close is a former Christchurch City Councillor and, until recently, a director of the national grid company Transpower. He has a sound knowledge of the electricity industry and extensive experience as a local body politician and as a board member of commercial, voluntary, Maori and charitable organisations.

Douglas Dell trained as an engineer and has worked in the electricity industry throughout his career. His electricity industry experience includes pricing, infrastructure development, marketing and operational management in both public and private sectors. He is currently an energy consultant, based in Auckland, and was formerly a director of the lines company Vector.

Peter Harris is a former Council of Trade Unions economist with an extensive background in research, analysis and advocacy. Mr Harris has been a member of a number of government and academic boards, and has been involved in national and international trade issues. His most recent appointment was as economic advisor to Finance Minister Michael Cullen.

Graham Pinnell is a professional engineer and a farmer. He has a strong understanding of electricity industry governance, having been a consumer nominee on a number of electricity industry bodies.He has been a National Board member of Federated Farmers, and has had close involvement in a number of agribusiness’s and public policy issues.

Christine Southey has until recently been a director and partner in a consulting firm specialising in the energy sector. She has a comprehensive knowledge of the regulatory and contractual arrangements governing the sector, acquired through her involvement in a number of key industry projects. Before her consulting role Ms Southey was a partner in a national law firm, where her practice focused on the energy sector and competition law.

"The composition of the board provides an excellent balance of skills and experience," Mr Hodgson said. "The members of the Commission will bring to their work industry knowledge, understanding of consumer needs and environmental issues, knowledge of government processes and experience of governance in the energy sector and the wider community.

"The Government's overall objective for the electricity industry is to have power delivered in an efficient, fair, reliable and environmentally sustainable manner to all consumers. I am confident this Commission will provide the effective leadership needed to help us achieve that. On consumer protection issues I expect the Commission to work closely with consumer groups."

Also released today is a revised draft Government Policy Statement on Electricity Governance. The statement sets out key improvements to the electricity industry that the Government expects the Commission to oversee, in addition to its routine governance responsibilities.

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