EECON 2019 SPEAKERS

Jeff Allen - National President, EESA

Jeff started as a cadet engineer with the Prospect County Council in 1963 and graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering from Sydney University in 1968. He is a Fellow of Engineers Australia, has business management qualifications from Deakin University and has been a member of EESA (and its predecessor organisation ESEA) since 1977.
He has had an engineering and executive management career in the electricity and related industries for over 50 years, with a background in both management and operational areas of electricity network and associated businesses as well as the retail energy area. He has held a variety of positions including Managing Director/CEO, GM Networks, GM Network Services, Manager System Control and various other engineering roles at Integral (now Endeavour) Energy and its predecessor organisations . In addition he has had executive roles at Energy Auctions (now Energy Action Ltd), AK Power Solutions (now Insulect) and EMS Solutions. Through his own company he has consulted widely in Australia and New Zealand in the areas of network regulatory and pricing submissions, best practice asset management, engineering consulting, business process re-engineering, procurement best practice and culture change management. He has also held a number of board positions with various companies.

Peter Brown - General Manager, PSC New Zealand

Peter Brown leads PSC’s New Zealand business and delivery team.  In this role he fosters relationships with our clients, works with the managers of our skilled consultant teams and represents New Zealand within the wider PSC group.

With a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Canterbury, Peter has worked in a range of organizations in the technology sector as well as starting and building his own test engineering business before it became part of PSC.  He brings a strong sales, process and commercial focus to our business.

Peter strives to help teams develop their skills, learn new things and deliver innovative solutions for our clients.    

Vilotte Mouchaileh - Executive General Manager, Emerging Markets and Services, Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)

Violette’s current role of Executive General Manager of Emerging Markets and Services includes the responsibility for strategies relating to AEMO’s Distributed Energy Resources program and data initiatives, including Consumer Data Right in energy. 

Since joining AEMO in February 2009, Violette has held various roles across gas and electricity in market design development, market change implementation, and operational roles. 

Violette has more than 17 years’ experience in the Australian energy industry holding various positions in Commonwealth Government departments and regulatory bodies.  

Her experience includes economic regulation, energy policy development, development of regulatory frameworks, market development and design, and market change implementation. This includes the establishment of energy governance framework and national planning arrangements, network and retail pricing reforms, establishment of the gas Short Term Trading Market, implementation of Power of Choice and demand side initiatives, including the AEMO/ARENA DR trial, and the COAG Energy Council’s Gas Market Reform Group gas reforms.

Violette has a Bachelor of Economics and Commerce with Honours.  

Pete Armstong - Waipa Networks, Te Awamutu, NZ

Pete Armstrong is a Chartered Professional Engineer with twenty seven years experience in the power industry. He has worked in transmission, distribution, generation and consulting in New Zealand and internationally. He holds a Bachelor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Canterbury and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Waikato. He is the Network Assets Manager at Waipa Networks, responsible for network planning and asset management, commercial management and Health and Safety.

Sean Elphick - Research Coordinator, University of Wollongong

Sean Elphick is the Research Coordinator for the Australian Power Quality and Reliability Centre at the University of Wollongong. In this role he is responsible for identifying, supporting  and managing the projects that the Centre is engaged on. He is heavily involved in the development and production of the Power Quality Compliance Audit, a power quality survey involving most Australian electricity distribution and transmission network service providers. His interests and expertise lie in power quality monitoring methodology, instrumentation and power quality standards. Sean has been an active member of a number of CIGRE and Australian Standards committees.

Alberto Costa - NSW/ACT Manager - Power and Energy, SMEC Australia Pty Ltd

Alberto is an experienced executive engineer with over 20 years’ experience in leading multidisciplinary teams. He is always seeking new market mechanisms supported by technical solutions to deliver fit-for-purpose engineered solutions to energy portfolios. Alberto Costa is the NSW / ACT manager of the Power and Energy group of SMEC where he is committed to turning energy and climate change risks into innovative solutions and positive investment returns to SMEC's clients.

Andrew Mears, CEO, SwitchDin

Dr Andrew Mears is an engineer and entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in the areas of renewable energy and innovation management covering Asia & Pacific, Africa and Australia.   His first startup was in satellite communications in 1990 and since then he’s worked in academia, SMEs, non-governmental sector, and multi-lateral agencies. This includes lead roles in technology innovation and commercialisation, project development, strategy consulting, and investment program management. He was a Chief Technical Advisor for Renewable Energy and Climate Change for the United Nations in Southern Africa and SE Asia and has delivered more than 40 major assignments in 18 countries directly mobilising investment in excess of $200 million.   In 2011, he was awarded Newcastle University’s Alumni Award for International Leadership. In 2014 he launched SwitchDin to develop energy management solutions for distributed energy resources. Since then SwitchDin has carved a niche position as the integration solution for DER in grid and microgrid applications.

Claude Morris, Microgrid Technology Leader, GHD

Claude Morris is GHD’s microgrid technology leader in Western Australia. He is a recognised industry specialist in this area, having worked on microgrids for the past 10 years. After successfully completing the integration of several microgrids and large-scale battery installations throughout regional Western Australia, Claude moved to the UK to work on projects in the Middle East, UK, North America, Asia-Pacific and Africa. Now back in Australia he brings a wealth of international microgrid and battery energy storage experience and knowledge which can be applied to GHD’s Australian client’s projects.

Abrar Aziz, Electrical Engineer, Middleton Group

Abrar is a highly motivated electrical engineer with valuable knowledge of the industry having previously worked at NHP, AusNet Services and Arup. He is currently working at Middleton Group where he is assisting High Voltage customers to prepare for the deployment of the new Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiting (REFCL) technology. Abrar has been the lead electrical engineer for the delivery of REFCL impact assessments and detailed design work for HV customers.   Abrar was privileged to have been awarded the Engineers Australia Graduate Electrical Power Engineer of the Year Award 2019, a national award recognizing significant achievements in electrical power engineering during the preceding six years.   Outside of work, Abrar is involved in the Electric Energy Society Australia (EESA) Victorian Chapter where is the current Chairperson and is responsible for managing and coordinating the technical and financial activities of the chapter in accordance with the strategy set by the EESA National Council. 

Dr Thomas Smolka, Managing Director, REINHAUSEN AUSTRALIA

Thomas studied electrical engineering at RWTH Aachen University in Germany and received a PhD in High Voltage Technology. He is a specialist in grid planning, grid integration of dispersed generation units based on renewable energies. After some years working for research institutes where he certified the first wind turbines in conformity to German grid codes he worked in asset management and innovation management for a DSO in Germany. In the last four years Thomas has been responsible for the business development of voltage regulation distribution transformers (VRDT) at MR. Thomas is an active member in Australian´s Cigré panels A2 and C6 and EESA.

Stephen Butler, Systems Consultants

Stephen Butler joined PSC Consulting after he graduated from University of Canterbury in 2008 with a Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering. Stephen has worked on many HVDC projects in various roles, including Commissioning Engineer for the Borwin1 400 MW Offshore HVDC project and Commissioning Manager for the Dolwin2 900 MW Offshore HVDC project

Travis Kauschke, Future Networks Engineer, SAPN

As an electrical engineer working in SA Power Networks Network Strategy department Travis Kauschke has been at the forefront of the distributed energy transition in South Australia. For the past three years developing strategies, piloting trials, and collaborating across industry. He has a deep understanding of the issues unmanaged distributed energy resources (DER) present, as well as their effect on customers and the market. Travis has also developed sophisticated models to understand the impact on DER and forecast their potential growth. 

Shaun Allen, Engineer, Orion Group

Shaun Allan is an Engineer with 8 years’ experience between the power and general electrical industries. After completing an apprenticeship as an electrician, he joined a lines company as a designer and estimator. During this time Shaun gained experience across multiple areas of engineering from overhead line design to subdivision reticulation. Shaun joined Orion’s trainee programme in 2017 which allowed him to complete his diploma in electrical engineering as well as gaining valuable network experience. At the start of 2019, he took a role within Orion as a Technical Engineer

Phil Bunnage, Project Manager, Orion Group

Phil Bunnage is a Project Manager with 30 years Project Management experience.  Originally from the UK Phil completed a 4 year apprenticeship with the Ministry of Defence in electronic, electrical and mechanical engineering and worked for the MoD for a further 17 years mainly in the airfield communications and navigation systems area.  After 5 years with the British Forces in Germany Phil moved to New Zealand in 2006.  Before joining Orion Phil worked for 9 years in the mobile phone infrastructure industry, moving to Orion in 2015 Phil has been involved in several Projects largely involving civil construction.

John Forrect, EIIP Systems Engineering and Assurance Lead, Sydney Trains

John Forrest is a contractor for Sydney Trains, leading the systems engineering and assurance aspects of the Electrical Isolations Improvement Program. He is a systems engineering and assurance veteran with the latter part of his career focused on critical operations and infrastructure in national security and transport. 

Jill Cainey, General Manager Networks, Energy Networks Australia

Dr Jill Cainey is General Manager Networks, at Energy Networks Australia, the national industry body representing Australia’s electricity transmission and distribution and gas distribution networks.

Jill works with electricity networks to transform Australia’s electricity system to accommodate new and innovative approaches to delivering sustainable energy.

Jill represented the interests of electricity storage in the UK and Europe and was appointed MBE for services to Energy Technology in 2017 for work in electricity policy and regulation.  Jill also has over 25 years of experience internationally in climate change and is very interested in the interaction of extreme weather and electricity systems and developing resilient network infrastructure for the future.

Mike Griffin, Chief Executive, Australian Power Institute

Mike was appointed to the role of Chief Executive of The Australian Power Institute (a not for profit energy industry organisation established to provide sustainable skills in professional power engineering) in January 2007 and since taking up this position has been responsible for:Providing a sustainable supply of quality power engineering graduates to the energy industry – includes a bursary program and promotion of engineering in schools; Facilitating a strong power engineering education platform – includes partnering with universities to develop power engineering curriculum and offering a suite of professional development training for power engineers in industry; Coordination of industry and university innovation initiatives – industry initiated projects with strong collaboration between universities/research organisations to produce tangible benefits to industry. 

Mike has over 30 years experience in engineering and management roles in the Australian energy distribution industry.

Alisdair Reid, Engineering Manager, Orion NZ Ltd

Alisdair Reid is a Chartered Engineer with 19 years’ experience in the electricity industry. After graduating from the University of Glasgow in 1998 he took up a role with GEC in the UK working on substation designs for the UK transmission system. In 2000 he took a role as a Commissioning Engineer for a major contractor and spent 3 years travelling the UK testing transformers and protection schemes up to 400 kV. Since moving to NZ in 2003 he has worked in consulting, as a distribution network design manager, and is currently a Technical Engineer in Orion’s Engineering Support Team

Chris Shaw, New Business Manager, Safearth

Chris Shaw is an Australian earthing specialist and a Principal Engineer at Safearth, a team of over 25 consultants and researchers. He has over 12 years of experience in earthing, lightning protection and interference co-ordination as well as design, auditing and testing expertise in the Power Generation and Delivery, Construction, Mining, Rail and Heavy Industry sectors. He has delivered formal earthing training courses since 2012 in Australia and the USA, conducted shock & failure investigations and currently leads Safearth’s international teams.

James Derricott, Principal Engineer, Zero Sequence Earthing

James Derricott is the Director and Principal engineer of Zero Sequence Earthing, a specialist earthing design and testing consultancy. With over 10 years experience in earthing, James has conducted earthing design and testing across Australia for a variety of projects in renewable, generation, rail, mining, industrial and utility networks.

Keith Middleton, Managing Director, Middleton Group Engineering

Keith is Managing Director of Middleton Group engineering and a practising electrical engineer with 25 years experience working across a range of industries including Rail, Power Utility, Renewable Energy and heavy industry.  Keith has worked across New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and the US  Keith also holds the role of Principal Power Engineer and EMC lead for Melbourne's $12.9bn Metro Tunnel Project, with Rail Projects Victoria.    Co- speaker - Dr Stephen Goh  Stephen Goh has 32 years of railway experience spanning all modes of rail systems in all facets of design. He is a specialist in traction power systems including modelling/ design, earthing, bonding & electrolysis, and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). He is currently the Principal Consultant & Traction Power Lead for Middleton Group 

Scott McKenzie, Vegetation Manager, Endeavour Energy

Three decades of studying Australian native vegetation, Scott McKenzie has developed, managed, and taught a range of conservation/risk-based programs throughout Australia.  Specialising in NSW environmental legislation and risk-based modelling, Scott has co- authored a range of documents including Endeavour Energy’s vegetation control manual, hazard tree identification course and has been a technical reviewer for the industry safety standards (NSW) including bushfire risk mitigation. In 2018 Scott collaborated with a team to develop a risk-based model assessing growth rates and hazard trees to optimise vegetation maintenance performance cycles using LiDAR technology.    

Shane Brunker, CTO, Endeavour Energy

Shane oversees the development of new products and services with NM Group's R&D branch and leads on the implementation of new equipment and systems. Shane has been with NM Group for 7 years and previously managed our field operations and processing/engineering teams. His background is the geospatial and remote sensing sciences, having earlier worked on the spatial and land information side of government.

Tony Marxsen, Chairman, IND Technology

Tony has an electrical engineering degree and Ph D from Monash University. During his 30-year career in the Victorian electricity industry, he worked in all aspects of electricity transmission and distribution engineering and business management. Tony was lead researcher in Victoria’s R&D program to cut bushfire risk associated with rural powerlines and he remains involved in oversight of the roll-out of Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters to the State’s highest risk networks. He is Chairman of IND Technology, supplier of Early Fault Detection technology to Australia, China and the US.

Steven Trainer, Power Systems, Marketing Manager - Medium Voltage, Schneider Electric

Steven has worked in the electrical industry for over 33 years. He started with Schneider Electric in 1988 in the role of Development Engineer. He has held various other roles within Schneider Electric during the last 31 years including Low Voltage Product Manager, Low Voltage Marketing Manager, Training Manager and for the last 10 years as the Medium Voltage Marketing Manager.

He is also a member of several Standards Australia electrical committees.

Nathan Spencer, Director, Revo Group

Nathan Spencer is a Director at Revo Group Pty Ltd in Australia, where he provides structural design, durability, destructive and non-destructive testing services, consulting and advice, primarily to the electrical utility industry. His specialties are pole durability, inspection & design. Nathan has destructively tested more than 750 (and counting) full-size poles of various materials, advising AS/NZS 7000 standards committees on foundation and timber pole design, and on pole test requirements. He lives in Newcastle with his wife, 3 kids and another on the way. 

John Fletcher, UNSW

John is a Professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications at UNSW. His research interests cover a range of activities and are succinctly summarised as being 'anything that involves electromagnetics or power electronics'. John is the Director of the Energy Systems Research Group at UNSW, the Postgraduate Coordinator in the school looking after over 170 research students, and is the Director of Industry Research in the school. He is currently involved in a major research project sponsored at UNSW. It is aimed at the development of microgrid operation with integrated renewables.

Mirhir Maharaja, Product Manager - MV Switchgear, Eaton

Experience Leader with 16 years of solid experience as Project Manager, Design Engineer, Estimator and Product Management.  Mirhir has a Masters of Business and Commerce from the University of Western Sydney. He also holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineer from the Government Engineering College in Modasa/India.

Jahan Peiris, Transgrid

Jahan Peiris is presently employed as Main System Planning Manager at TransGrid and is responsible for network modelling, system planning, technical design and system performance. Previously he has held variety of positions in the power industry in the areas of power system modelling, analysis, planning and operations. Jahan is a member of IET, IEEE, and is a registered Charted Engineer of Engineering Council, UK. He has contributed to a number of industry technical groups in planning and operation of Australian National Electricity Market including Operations Planning Working Group and Power System Modelling Reference Group. Jahan graduated with first class honours from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, specialising in Electrical Engineering and received his PhD from the University of Auckland, New Zealand with main interests on power system stability and control. He is presently an Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Wollongong. 

Prabodha Paranavithana, Transgrid

Prabodha Paranavithana is presently employed as a Principal Engineer in Main System Planning Team at TransGrid and her primary work interests are in the area of network & plant modelling, technical assessment of generator connections, network planning, technical design and system performance. Previously she has held number of positions in the power industry in the areas of power system modelling, analysis & planning. She has contributed to industry technical groups, CIGRE Working Group C4.109 on Power Quality Assessment Techniques, and a number of Task Forces convened by Australian Energy Market Operator in relation to renewable generation connections and emerging issues in the National Electricity Market. Prabodha graduated with first class honours from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, specialising in Electrical Engineering, and received her PhD from the University of Wollongong, Australia with main interests in power quality (voltage unbalance) contributing to the development of IEC 61000-3-13.

Lulu Shao, Principal Main System Planning Engineer, TransGrid

Lulu is the Principal Main System Planning Engineer at TransGrid, where she has ten years’ experience in power system planning, power electronics and engineering design. Lulu is the planning lead on major transmission projects including interconnector upgrades from NSW to Queensland and Victoria, and upgrades to increase transmission capacity in southern NSW. Lulu represents TransGrid in industry working groups. She holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering with First Class Honours from the University of Auckland.

Evonne Bennett, Project Director, Powering Sydney Future Project

Evonne Bennett is the Project Director for Powering Sydney Future Project and broad experience in utilities, oil and gas, power and transport infrastructure. Evonne has extensive experience in M&A and financial analysis, project development and execution, commercial management and asset management.  She is a proven and versatile leader and has worked in both global and local companies.  In her work, she enjoys enjoy connecting people and teams to build a collaborative working environment.  Evonne is a people orientated person who likes to deliver on a common objective. 

Evonne has qualifications in chemical engineering and finance.

Joel Pontt, ANZ Business Development Manager - Power Generation, Cargill Bioindustrial

 A member of the Institute of Engineers Australia and the Australian Institute of Project Management with over 20 years of experience within the power industry. Joel brings with him his expertise of network & system design, project engineering & management, business development and general management gained from multi-national OEM’s and service providers. Joel’s current capacity with Cargill is focused on communicating and educating the key benefits of ester-based fluid filled transformers across all sectors to support a safer, cleaner and more sustainable energy future. 

Graham Town, School of Engineering, Macquarie University

Graham Town is an electrical engineer with 8 years experience in the Australian electronics industry, and 30 years experience in engineering education and research. He received a BE (Hons 1) from NSWIT (now UTS) in 1984, a PhD in medical imaging from the University of Sydney in 1992, and a Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Management (Higher Education) from Macquarie University in 2007. 

He is a Professor in the Department of Engineering at Macquarie University where he established the University's undergraduate engineering program, first offered in 2004. 

He has published extensively in diverse areas including optical fibre communication and sensing technology and systems, engineering education, and in recent years he has been leading industry-supported research projects on power electronics for compact and efficient power conversion, and smart-grids with a focus on electric vehicle integration and management. 

Cameron Potter, Manager, Strategic Market Analysis, Hydro Tasmania

A passion for data driven decision making and being at the edge of new technology has driven Cameron's career. 

Cameron has championed risk-driven analysis of renewable energy, power system integration studies and research and product development related to wind and solar energy modelling for commercial and/or government purposes. 

Cameron is now the Manager, Strategic Market Analysis for the Battery of the Nation initiative. 

Angel Caceres, Electrical Engineer, Hatch Pty Ltd

Electrical Engineer (BEng., MEng. Sc. (Mgmt)) with 5 years of experience in electrical design and field engineering assistance in EPC projects of petrochemical plants (Oil & Gas industry) overseas working in Colombia, Italy and Mexico. Postgraduate study from the University of Queensland in Electrical Engineering (Power systems) and Management. I joined the Australian workforce in the Mining & Resources industry working in electrical design, including power system analysis, and lately performing and leading commissioning jobs.

Stephen Clark, TasNetworks

Stephen has +25 years experience in the energy industry. He has held executive roles in Asset Management, Power System Planning, Engineering and project delivery.

Stephen is a member of the AEMO reliability panel and a Director of CIGRE Australia

As technical and economic lead Stephen’s role is to oversee the design and integration of Marinus Link into the power systems at each end. On the economic side, his team are tasked with investigating the cost/benefit analysis of a 1500 MW second Bass Strait interconnector, that could play a significant role in Australia’s future electricity grid.

Ann Whitfield, Partner, HoustonKemp

Ann has over twenty-five years’ experience working as an economist for both private consultancies and government. Ann’s particular areas of expertise include utility regulation, cost benefit analysis (particularly in relation to investment assessments) and broader issues of energy market development. 

Ann has advised both regulators and utility businesses in Australia, including the COAG Energy Council, the Australian Energy Market Commission, the Australian Energy Regulator, various jurisdictional regulators and a range of utility businesses in the electricity, gas, water, rail and aviation sectors. 

Ann is a recognised expert in the application of the Regulatory Investment Tests for electricity network investments, and has direct, practical experience of the application of these tests to major transmission investments (including ISP projects) and non-network solutions as well as assessing the impacts on Distributed Energy Resources.