December 12, 2023

ERANZ appoints Simon Watt as Independent Chair

ERANZ appoints Simon Watt as Independent Chair

The Electricity Retailers’ Association of New Zealand (ERANZ) is pleased to announce the appointment of Simon Watt as Independent Chair, effective immediately. 

Widely acknowledged as New Zealand’s leading climate change lawyer, Simon brings a wealth of energy sector experience to the role. 

“We’re delighted to welcome Simon to ERANZ at a time of significant growth and transformation for the  energy sector,” ERANZ Chief Executive, Bridget Abernethy, said. 

“Simon comes with significant expertise in energy-related issues, governance and public sector engagement  which will prove invaluable to the organisation as we work to ensure our energy system is even more  sustainable, reliable and affordable for New Zealanders.” 

Simon worked as a partner at Bell Gully for 22 years, leading the firm’s climate change and public sector  practices, and is currently Deputy Chair of the Medical Council of New Zealand and honorary advisor to the  Asia New Zealand Foundation.  

He has extensive knowledge of the challenges and opportunities New Zealand faces on the road to net zero  carbon by 2050. He was instrumental in the creation of the legal framework for New Zealand’s Emissions  Trading Scheme and worked with EECA to negotiate the funding agreement with New Zealand Steel to enable  electrification of half its steel production, which will reduce New Zealand’s carbon emissions by 1%. 

“It’s an exciting time to be working in the energy sector and specifically in electricity, which will underpin much of New Zealand’s efforts to achieve net zero emissions,” he said. "I look forward to working with ERANZ members to continue its strong work furthering competition and sustainability in the retail electricity market and driving the electricity sector’s support of families at greatest risk of energy hardship.” 

Simon is a permanent successor to Anna Kominik, who departed in July after four years of distinguished service with ERANZ to Chair the Electricity Authority. ERANZ would also like to thank Contact Energy’s Chris Abbott for his work in recent months as Acting Chair. 

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