12/08/2014 - 15:19

ERA boss takes up Synergy chair

12/08/2014 - 15:19

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The head of the Economic Regulation Authority Lyndon Rowe has been appointed full-time chairman of Synergy.

ERA boss takes up Synergy chair
Lyndon Rowe has been appointed full-time chairman of Synergy.

The head of the Economic Regulation Authority, Lyndon Rowe, has been appointed full-time chairman of Synergy.

Mr Rowe’s appointment is effective immediately, but no announcement has been made yet on who will take up his former post as ERA chairman.

The new ERA chair position will be a part-time role, although this will require a change to the Act which governs the ERA.

Mr Rowe succeeds Michael Smith, who quit Synergy suddenly last month after eight years, along with former board members Keith Spence, Margaret Seares and Eric Hooper.

Keith Spence told Business News the four members quit the board after Energy Minister Mike Nahan intervened with a proposal to install a new chairman, and because of conflict with the remaining board members.

Dr Nahan said Mr Rowe would become Synergy’s first full-time chair, an expanded role he believed had become necessary due to the work involved in transforming Synergy and Verve Energy post-merger.

Mr Rowe is the right person to position the new Synergy for the future while simultaneously ensuring the government trading enterprise maintains its critical role in underpinning the state’s energy security,” Dr Nahan said in a statement.

"The new business will continue to evolve as the state government focuses on dealing with the challenges confronting energy utilities in a changing marketplace and reducing Synergy's reliance on its operating subsidy." 

Mr Rowe told Business News the new role would be an interesting challenge and he was looking forward to working with the board and chief executive Jason Waters.

He said further board appointments would be discussed and he had an open mind about who could bring certain skills and how many people the board could comprise of.

"It is likely that more appointments will be made to the existing board and we’ll discuss that and make some recommendations to the minister in due course," he said.

"I’m sure that the minister will want to consult with the board about appointment of board members."

Mr Rowe was put on gardening leave a few weeks ago before his new role was made public.

He had been chairman of the ERA since 2004, where he was also a member of the board alongside Steve Edwell and Stephen King.

Mr Rowe said it was likely ERA business would continue as usual and one of the members would act as chair in the interim, before a new chair was appointed.

"I don’t think there’s necessarily someone in mind," he said.

Mr Rowe said making the ERA chair role part-time was his suggestion.

"That’s actually consistent with both my recommendation and with Greg Watkinson, our CEOs recommendation," he said.

"I think now the ERA is well and truly established and got the talented team it’s got in here, I think the chair’s role probably could be three days a week, rather than full time." 

Mr Rowe is also a former chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA and is a current director of Perth Airport.

Dr Nahan also announced David Hunt had been appointed a Synergy director.

He joins McRae Investments consultant Michael Goddard and ACIL Allen Consulting director Mark Chatfield.

Mr Hunt has served as chief executive of New Zealand-based Contact Energy, and is a current director of Concept Consulting.

His appointments is also effective immediately.

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