New CEO appointed at AEMO

AEMO VNI West, transmission, NEM, VNI West

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has appointed Daniel Westerman as the new chief executive officer and managing director.

Mr Westerman, who is currently the chief transformation officer at international utility National Grid, will replace Nino Ficca who has been acting CEO following the departure of Audrey Zibelman in December.

Mr Westerman will return home to Australia to lead AEMO, bringing his deep operational experience in the energy sector to the role.

AEMO Daniel Westerman
Daniel Westerman

At National Grid, Mr Westerman managed the electricity network across England and Wales and has led transformation and change programs across multiple business units and geographies.

AEMO chairman, Drew Clarke, said the Board was pleased the CEO search process attracted strong interest from high calibre energy leaders both within Australia and globally.

“Daniel was selected from a strong field of leaders in the energy sector, and the Board is confident his experience positions him well to lead AEMO through the next phase of transition in the energy sector,” he said.

“Experience in a commercial setting was highly valued in AEMO’s search, and the Board was pleased to secure a candidate with experience leading major infrastructure projects through the investment cycle.”

Daniel said he was delighted to return to Australia and lead AEMO at a time when electricity and gas systems nationally and globally are undergoing rapid transition.

“I’m looking forward to collaborating with market participants, policy makers and stakeholders across the energy industry to help inform and shape the best outcomes for consumers as the technology mix undergoes a dramatic transformation,” Mr Westerman said.

“Australia is leading the world in the adoption of renewable energy systems, and AEMO plays a critical role in maintaining a stable supply of power to the millions of homes and businesses that benefit from the energy these systems provide.

“As our economy recovers from the impacts of the pandemic, the gas markets operated by AEMO will continue to play an important role in both the export and domestic energy sectors.

Related article: Queensland’s energy future

“AEMO must continue to operate our energy systems today while planning for the challenges of tomorrow, and that will be my focus.”

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said Mr Westerman’s significant commercial and regulatory experience in both the United Kingdom and the United States mean he is well-positioned to lead a key market institution like AEMO through this period of significant change in the energy market.

“I welcome Mr Westerman’s appointment and look forward to working with him to progress important energy market reforms,” Minister Taylor said.

Mr Westerman’s ongoing appointment will commence on May 17, 2021.

“I thank Mr Ficca for his leadership of AEMO since stepping in as interim chief executive officer and managing director. He will return to his role as non-executive director when Mr Westerman commences in May,” Minister Taylor said.

Energy Networks Australia welcomed the appointment, with CEO Andrew Dillon stating the appointment came at an important time for AEMO and the energy sector as a whole.

“Mr Westerman brings a wealth of international experience to the role and I look forward to working closely with him on ensuring a secure, affordable energy future for our customers,” Mr Dillon said.

“Australia’s energy sector is undergoing a period of immense change and with that comes significant challenges.

“It is important networks and AEMO work together to solve these challenges, including deliver a more connected market, managing ever-growing solar in local grids and moving to a more renewable future while keeping the lights on and prices as low as possible.”