AER chair to step down


The chair of the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) Paula Conboy has announced she will step down from the top job, choosing not to pursue a second five-year appointment to the position.

“A fortnight ago, the Senior Committee of Officials wrote to me, as is the normal process, to inquire as to my interest in continuing as Chair for a second term, but after careful consideration I have decided to move on to the next stage of my professional life,” she said in a statement.

“The past five years have been the most challenging and rewarding of my career.

“Working with such a highly professional and dedicated staff has been immensely fulfilling, and I am beyond proud of what the AER achieved together in this time – progress that will help stand the agency in good stead as the AER works through the challenges and opportunities of the evolving market.”

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The Australian Energy Council (AEC) has congratulated Ms Conboy for her efforts over the past five years, with the AEC’s chief executive Sarah McNamara saying Ms Conboy would leave a strong legacy as a successful leader of the AER at a critical period for the energy sector.

“Ms Conboy is highly respected across the energy industry for her well-considered approach to often extremely challenging issues,” she said.

“Her technical expertise and constructive approach to dealing with stakeholders, whilst delivering notable regulatory determinations, made Paula a real asset to the AER, and a pleasure to work with.

“We wish Ms Conboy well for her future endeavours and hope that she is not lost to the energy industry.”

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Minister for Energy Angus Taylor released a statement on Ms Conboy’s decision, saying during her time as chair, Ms Conboy has maintained a clear focus on outcomes for everyday Australians, particularly those who are doing it tough.

“This includes driving improved hardship guidelines for vulnerable customers and helping empower Australians through the redevelopment of the Energy Made Easy website, making it easier for consumers to get lower, fairer energy bills,” the statement reads.

“Ms Conboy has led important work by the AER to develop a default market offer and reference bill, which will protect customers from excessively high power prices and empower them to negotiate better deals with energy retailers.

“Ms Conboy has also overseen the development of the Consumer Challenge Panel, ensuring network companies focus on engaging with consumers.”

Ms Conboy will be working through to the end of her term in September 2019, and the government says it will start looking for a replacement shortly.