We represent 20 major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses operating in the competitive wholesale and retail energy markets. These businesses collectively generate the overwhelming majority of electricity in Australia, sell gas and electricity to over 10 million homes and businesses, and are major investors in renewable energy generation.
The Council began operating from 1 January 2016. With Australia’s energy industry undergoing a period of rapid, transformative change member companies of the Energy Supply Association of Australia (esaa), Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and the Energy Retailers Association of Australia (ERAA) decided to reorganise and rationalise their representative associations in 2015.
From 1 January 2016, the merchant, non-network energy businesses commenced the Australian Energy Council and the ERAA merged into this new organisation. Matthew Warren was appointed as its inaugural Chief Executive.
In July 2018, Sarah McNamara was appointed as Chief Executive of the Australian Energy Council.
The ENA continues to serve its network members and absorbed the responsibility for Grid Australia activities on behalf of the electricity transmission sector.
Australian Energy Council members have access to a range of industry benefits and services.
Our secretariat is a team of expert energy analysts, economists and public policy advocates with extensive experience in the energy industry. The Council has well-established relationships with government, opposition and allied stakeholders across all jurisdictions. The Council uses this expertise to support its members, and assist in managing the key issues impacting member businesses and the energy sector.
Utilising our extensive networks across media, industry and government, we are proactive in public debates and use this platform to promote key strategies, inform consumers, defend the industry against unwarranted or incorrect criticism and advocate for the industry generally.
Sarah McNamara was appointed as Chief Executive of the Australian Energy Council in July 2018.
Sarah joined the Energy Council as General Manager of Corporate Affairs in January 2016. She is an industry leader with more than a decade of experience working with policy and regulatory frameworks across the resources and energy sectors.
Prior to the Energy Council, Sarah was Chief of Staff to the then Minister for Industry, the Hon Ian Macfarlane, and has also worked as a senior policy adviser to the Prime Minister.
Between 2008 and 2013 Sarah worked in AGL’s Corporate Affairs team as Head of Government Affairs and Community Engagement. Sarah began her career as a corporate lawyer, and has a Bachelor of Arts/Law from the University of Melbourne.
David joined the AEC as the General Manager, Wholesale and Environment in August 2023. David was most recently the General Manager, Policy at Transgrid, leading a small team of policy experts focussed on transmission policy both nationally and in NSW.
Prior to this, David was at the Australian Energy Market Commission as an Executive General Manager, initially focussing on Retail and Wholesale Markets, and later leading the networks team. David led policy teams responsible for rule changes and reviews, with extensive stakeholder engagement key to the AEMC processes.
He has more than 25 years’ experience across the telecommunications, energy and government sectors. David’s previous roles include both regulatory and commercial roles with Telstra and managing industry engagement and commercial management for NBN Co. He has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Newcastle and a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Sydney.
Ben Barnes was appointed General Manager Corporate Affairs and Retail in August 2022, after joining the Australian Energy Council in July 2018 as Director Retail Policy and being promoted to the role of General Manager, Retail Policy in April 2020.
Prior to joining the Council, Ben was a Regulatory Manager at Red Energy for 7 years, responsible for consumer protection and distributed energy regulation.
He has extensive knowledge of retail energy markets and its regulatory framework, with particular expertise in consumer protections, engagement, and new product innovation.
Jo De Silva is the General Manager Retail Policy at the Australian Energy Council. Jo was most recently a senior leader at the Australian Energy Market Operator (ISP Consumer Panel) and Energy & Water Ombudsman SA, experienced in representing the long-term interests of different cohorts of energy consumers in regulatory and technical processes. Jo has served as a member of the Energy Security Board Stakeholder Steering Group and the National Customer Code Council for Comparators and Moving Services.
Jo was a member of the Australian Energy Regulator Consumer Reference Group, all four Energy Security Board National Energy Guarantee Technical Working Groups and the Australian Energy Market Commission System Security Technical Working Group. Heading up energy policy at the South Australian Council of Social Service for around a decade, Jo convened the National Consumer Roundtable on Energy and was an inaugural member of the AER’s Consumer Challenge Panel. Jo is a former Judge of the South Australian Premier’s Mining and Energy Awards.
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