Australian Energy Market Operator appoints new CIO

Former Sydney Water CIO, Chris Ford, to oversee AEMO technology strategy

Chris Ford

Chris Ford

Former Sydney Water CIO, Chris Ford, has joined the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) as its new chief information officer.

Ford’s appointment came after a comprehensive search and selection process. He is tasked with translating the operator’s business strategy into executable components for technology, particularly for the gas and electricity markets. He begins on February 6.

AEMO was borne out of the collaboration of six industry bodies across the electricity and gas markets, which merged in 2009. It is responsible for the management of the National Electricity Market (NEM) and the retail and wholesale gas markets of eastern and southern Australia as well as the system security of the NEM electricity grid and the Victorian gas transmission network.

Ford has extensive experience in the energy, water and government sectors. He led a team of 240 — plus 150 partner-based project staff — at Sydney Water, focusing on improving IT governance through stakeholder involvement. He was also involved in restructuring the organisation to help improve business engagement and project delivery performance. Under his tenure, Sydney Water completed the ongoing IT project to consolidate two asset management applications.

“We look forward to welcoming Chris to AEMO and to his contributions in achieving our business objectives,” AEMO chief executive officer, Matt Zema, said in a statement.

According to AEMO, he will work with the organisation’s executive leadership team and influence strategic business decisions through use of technology.

“The excellent leadership Chris has demonstrated throughout his career, his collaborative management style and a reputation for delivering innovative solutions with energy and passion make him ideal for AEMO’s CIO role,” the organisation said in a statement.

“This role will help define Australia’s energy future."

In July 2011, AEMO signed up with US-based IT information provider, Telvent to support its energy demand forecasting system in 16 areas located in South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, NSW and the ACT.

Future CIO

Ford will assuredly have his work cut out for him; in addition to its NEM responsibilities, AEMO oversees national transmission planning and the establishment of a Short Term Trading Market for gas. The wholesale market — which is designed to enable short term gas trading using market-driven daily prices — is already operating through New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland.

Ford is a Chartered Electrical Engineer, has a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in computer and control systems and is a fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology.

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