By Paul Broad, CEO – In many ways, joining Snowy Hydro as CEO feels a bit like coming home, a unique opportunity to combine my two great professional loves – water and energy!
I have been extensively involved with some of Australia’s largest electricity and water organisations throughout my career, it’s in my blood. I have a deep understanding of the value of water and importance of a reliable energy system to our communities and our economy.
Let me tell you a bit about where I have come from. My first CEO role was with Hunter Water in my hometown of Newcastle from 1989-1993. Under my leadership, Hunter Water was the first government business to be corporatised. I also introduced a ‘user-pays’ system of water usage, successfully changing the way people respect water. I achieved this same success during my time as CEO of Sydney Water from 1993-1997, introducing a user-pays system, corporatising the business and successfully increasing productivity by 60%.
I ‘switched’ to electricity in 1997, taking over as CEO of Energy Australia until 2004. I expanded the business into new energy retail during my tenure and also established a small telco, PowerTel. In 2004, I left Energy Australia to head up PowerTel. My next stop was as CEO of AAPT, from 2007-2011 and, most recently, I was the inaugural CEO of Infrastructure NSW.
During my time as CEO of Infrastructure NSW, I was responsible for delivering the first Infrastructure Plan in NSW, a 20-year horizon strategy underpinning productivity growth in the State. During my tenure, I successfully took politics out of infrastructure and challenged ‘the way we do things’ – quite a task, let me tell you! Then in June this year, I joined Snowy Hydro.
Right up front I must say that Snowy Hydro has, and will maintain under my leadership, the highest standards of safety. I believe everyone has the right to come to work and go home safe, I cannot emphasise that enough. We have an excellent safety record and safety will continue to be our number one priority.
My priority has been to meet with my Executive team and as many Snowy Hydro employees as possible. I have also met with local council Mayors and General Managers to gain a deeper understanding of our communities. A highlight has also been the opportunity to meet with the Snowy Hydro SouthCare Rescue Helicopter Service team including their Chairman, CEO, pilots and paramedics.
I am a very strong supporter of Snowy Hydro’s partnership with our regions rescue helicopter service. So much so, that I will be joining the Board of Snowy Hydro SouthCare so that I can personally provide my support and assistance to increasing awareness of Snowy Hydro SouthCare, and raising additional funds to further improve the service. I am constantly impressed by the relationships Snowy Hydro has with local communities within which we operate. I look forward to getting to know the communities in which our employees and their families live. Under my leadership, Snowy Hydro will remain committed to supporting our local region through initiatives that have wide appeal to the community, such as Snowy Hydro SouthCare and supporting local festival and events.
You will be hearing more from us too – not only through our community newsletter but also through local print and radio media. We are already looking at new ways to make sure communities understand our business and to keep you up to date with what is happening around our business.
Community support for a successful Snowy Hydro is very important. Snowy Hydro operates in a highly regulated environment. If we are not considered as part of the bigger picture during government decision-making, we risk decisions being made which could negatively impact our operations. I will be very proactive in managing the way we interact with and respond to regulatory matters to protect and advance the interests of Snowy Hydro.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Snowy Mountains Scheme and its history. Those who built the Scheme and the story of the construction era is an undeniable page in the history of our country. In November this year, I will be meeting with former Snowy Scheme workers at our annual briefing and note that next year marks the 65th year since construction of the Snowy Scheme started, and the 40th year since its completion.
Over the last 10 years the company has spent roughly one billion dollars on maintaining and upgrading the plant and it is in excellent shape. Effective maintenance is essential to ensure maximum plant reliability and availability, and it is our ability to have reliable and available plant ready to meet the needs of a dynamic market which underpins the success of Snowy Hydro. Investment in maintenance will remain critically important under my leadership.
In reflecting on the past, I also see how far Snowy Hydro has come since corporatisation. We are maximising our hydro generation capability through the Scheme Modernisation program. We have grown our asset base through the acquisition and construction of gas-fired power stations. We own energy retailer Red Energy. All this achieved without the access to equity enjoyed by our private sector competitors. Our portfolio of assets makes us ideally suited to respond to the needs of our customers and critical demand periods in the National Electricity Market. We are, in essence, the quiet achiever sitting at the very heart of our energy system, competing against larger and stronger players.
Snowy Hydro is an impressive company with a very promising future. I look forward to leading Snowy Hydro with a strong focus on safety, achievement and continuing to remain a proud partner with the communities in which we operate. Your continued support for our success is, as always, valued and very much appreciated.