Improving consumer participation in decisions about the future of the energy sector will be the key theme of the Dr Gill Owen Memorial Lecture, hosted this week by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and delivered by Ms Sharon Darcy, Director of Sustainability First in the United Kingdom.
Ms Darcy’s keynote address: “Beyond Window Dressing”, will focus on putting consumer interests at the heart of company and regulatory decision making, with an emphasis on the future consumers face in the rapidly transforming energy sector.
Dr Gill Owen was instrumental in assisting the AER’s establishment of the Consumer Challenge Panel and was a founding member of the group, which helps the AER make better regulatory determinations by providing input on issues of importance to consumers. She was also involved in many other projects focussing on sustainability and vulnerable consumers.
“The AER’s purpose is to work to make all Australian energy consumers better off, now and in the future. Gill’s work in establishing the Consumer Challenge Panel continues to assist us in achieving our purpose by providing a genuine voice for energy consumers.
“Today we are continuing Gill’s work by learning form the experiences and insights of Sharon Darcy. This will benefit not only the AER but also our stakeholders and the Australian community,” said AER board member Jim Cox.
Attendance at the lecture is free of charge, and the event concludes with a networking hour from 5.00PM to 6.00PM.
Date: Wednesday, 7 February 2018
Time: 3.30–6 pm (lecture and networking)
Venue: State Library Victoria – Village Roadshow Theatrette
Contact: General inquiries – AERInquiry@aer.gov.au
About Sharon Darcy
Sharon is a champion of consumer concerns in energy and water. Sharon was elected to the Council of Which? in January 2015 and was formerly a long-standing board member of Consumer Futures and its predecessor bodies (Consumer Focus and energywatch). She is a member of the UK Regulators Network Expert Panel, a board member of the Solicitors Regulation Authority and a member of Ofgem's Consumer Progress Panel that provides advice on the implementation of CMA energy market investigation remedies.
A qualified accountant, Sharon began her career working on value for money studies in the privatisation and regulation team at the National Audit Office. Until 2016, she was a Trustee of the new workplace pension provider NEST where she chaired the Risk Committee, and until March 2017 a lay member of the Standards Committee of the House of Commons. For the last six years, Sharon was a member of Ofgem’s panel to assess the network innovation competitions, plus a member of the Ofgem ‘Consumer Challenge Group’ (ensuring that the consumer interest is represented in setting prices for monopoly energy businesses). She was a member of Ofwat’s Customer Advisory Panel for the 2014 water price review and the previous Ofwat Future Regulation Advisory Panel. Previous roles also include chair of a Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
About the AER
The AER works to make all Australian energy consumers better off, now and in the future.
- We regulate electricity networks and covered gas pipelines, in all jurisdictions except Western Australia. We set the amount of revenue that network businesses can recover from customers for using these networks.
- We enforce the laws for the National Electricity Market and spot gas markets in southern and eastern Australia. We monitor and report on the conduct of energy businesses and the effectiveness of competition.
- We protect the interests of household and small business consumers by enforcing the Retail Law. Our retail energy market functions cover New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and Queensland. We do not set the prices consumers pay.
We drive effective competition where it is feasible and provide effective regulation where it is not. We equip consumers to participate effectively, including through our Energy Made Easy website, and protect those who are unable to safeguard their own interests. We use our expertise to inform debate about Australia’s energy future.