Who is Daniel Westerman?
Armed with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, two MBAs – one from Melbourne Business School and another from London Business School – and more than twenty years in the energy and engineering industry, Daniel Westerman certainly brings an impressive CV to his new role of Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), starting 17 May.
AEMO has worked hard to find a good candidate for the role which “attracted strong interest from high–calibre energy leaders both within Australia and globally.”
But despite his international experience, we will be welcoming back one of our own. Mr Westerman is an Aussie who attended Melbourne High and even did a stint at the Ford Motor Company as a senior engineer.
Mr Westerman’s spent most of the last decade at National Grid. The transatlantic energy company provides electricity and gas to homes and business across Great Britain and the north east of the United States, including Long Island and Massachusetts.
National Grid also owns the transmission network across Great Britain. Somewhat ironically, while AEMO is currently undertaking a Governance Review, in the UK there are calls for the system operator part of National Grid to be sliced out into a separate, independent body like AEMO.
Mr Westerman moved swiftly through the company where he is (until trading wintery Christmases for a bit more sun) Group Chief Transformation Officer at National Grid and President and Executive Chair of National Grid Renewables.
Based in the US, National Grid Renewables (formerly known as Geronimo Energy and an arm of National Grid) develops, constructs and operates clean, renewable energy projects, such as solar, wind and battery storage across the US for corporations and utilities in an unregulated market.
While overseas, Mr Westerman remained connected with Australia, advising both the federal department and the 2017 Finkel Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market.
With this strong background in renewables and regulation, Mr Westerman is well placed to lead AMEO into a new, connected, renewables-based future.
It’s no secret Australia’s energy sector is going through an immense period of change with more utility scale renewables and distributed energy resources coming online. The UK, with its legislated zero-emissions target, is on a rapid energy transformation pathway, particularly the integration of large-scale renewables. It will be interesting to see how Mr Westerman transitions from the UK, where national regulator Ofgem is working to accelerate low regrets network investment, to an Australian sector where power price increases over the last decade continue to make investments in a smarter and more connected energy grid challenging.
Mr Westerman will have a crucial role steering AEMO into a collaborative future where all parts of the energy system must work together to deliver a more connected market, manage the ever-increasing solar in local grids and move to a more renewable future, while keeping the lights on and prices as low as possible.
The northern hemisphere’s loss is Australia’s gain and ENA and our members look forward to working with Mr Westerman as we chart the path towards a clean, reliable and affordable energy future.