The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has appointed its new CEO, effective Monday, 20 March 2017, who has extensive experience in international energy markets.

Audrey Zibelman will take over from acting CEO Karen Olesnicky.

Ms Zibelman has extensive international experience in the public, private and not-for profit energy sectors, most recently having held the position of Chair of the New York State Public Service Commission (NYPSC), where she was responsible for overseeing the regulation and safety of New York’s electricity, gas, telephone, cable, water and steam utilities.

During Ms Zibelman’s leadership at the NYPSC, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo enacted the ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ (REV) plan. The REV plan has been internationally recognised for successfully developing and implementing 21st century regulatory reform with a focus on lowering the cost of energy for consumers while building a more resilient and reliable power system.

Prior to joining NYPSC, Ms Zibelman was the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of GO15 member organisation, PJM, a system operator organisation responsible for operating the power grid and wholesale power market which serves 14 states across the eastern United States.

Ms Zibelman is also a Founder and past President and Chief Executive Officer of Viridity Energy, Inc., which she formed after more than 25 years of electricity utility industry leadership experience in both the public and private sectors.

AEMO Chair, Dr Anthony Marxsen, said after an extensive search, the AEMO Board was pleased to appoint such a recognised international expert in energy policy, markets and smart grid innovation.

“Audrey’s vast experience in creating and managing new wholesale electricity markets, and transforming existing energy markets and large power systems will further strengthen the work that AEMO has undertaken to support Australia’s energy industry transformation,” Dr Marxsen said.

“Audrey has the vision to lead, guide and support our organisation and the broader Australian energy industry as we transition our energy markets and reform power systems planning and management.”

Dr Marxsen said that Ms Zibelman, together with the Executive Leadership Team, will continue to build on the strong legacy left by AEMO’s foundation Managing Director and CEO Matt Zema to deliver on AEMO’s vision of energy security for all Australians.

“I would particularly like to thank Karen Olesnicky, a close colleague and long-time friend of Matt’s, who took on the very challenging role of Acting CEO amidst such sudden circumstances,” Dr Marxsen said.

“Karen has done an outstanding job during what has been a trying and challenging time for both AEMO and the broader energy industry. The board thanks Karen for her leadership, dedication and commitment to our organisation.”

The Australian Pipelines and Gas Association (APGA) has welcomed the appointment of Ms Zibelman.

APGA Chief Executive, Cheryl Cartwright, said the appointment came at a critical time for Australia’s energy industry.

“The supply of electricity supply is under challenge in many states with the closure of coal-fired power stations, such as Victoria’s Hazelwood Power Station, not being matched by new sources of energy. As we saw in South Australia last year, this can pose risks to the security of supply,” Ms Cartwright said.

“The supply of natural gas is also being challenged, particularly in states where there are moratoria on extraction methods that affect exploration.

“As well, we have changes being introduced into gas markets with transmission pipeline companies implementing auctions and trading platforms to assist producers and users to trade capacity. And further gas market reforms are currently being developed by industry expert Dr Michael Vertigan and the Gas Market Leaders Group.

“These developments make for interesting times in energy markets in Australia and APGA and our members look forward to working with Ms Zibelman in her new role.”

Lauren brings a fresh approach to content. While she’s previously written for publications as diverse as Australian Geographic, The Border Watch and Girlfriend, she’s found her true passion in her current role as an editor in the world of energy and infrastructure trade magazines.

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