Alan Finkel

Dr. Alan Finkel AO

Engineer, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

Dr Alan Finkel AC is a neuroscientist, engineer, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Career highlights include 23 years running US company Axon Instruments and 8 years as Chancellor of Monash University. Alan was Australia’s Chief Scientist from 2016 to 2020, during which time he led the National Electricity Market Review, the development of the National Hydrogen Strategy and the panel that advised the Australian Government on the Low Emissions Technology Roadmap. As Special Adviser to the Australian Government on Low Emissions Technologies in 2021 and 2022, he brokered bilateral low emissions technology partnerships between Australia and each of seven key countries and chaired the Australian Government-hosted Sydney Energy Forum. He is currently Chair of Stile Education and a corporate adviser on climate change technologies. His book, Powering Up: unleashing the clean energy supply chain, was published in June.

Overview of address for EECON2023:

Dr. Alan Finkel will discuss what is required to remove the barriers to achieve net zero emissions.
The entire supply chain must be considered, from raw materials through to power infrastructure,
the workforce, transportation and household customers. If we get it right, history will judge us as
the generation who ushered in the Electric Age and helped to save the planet.

John Pesutto
John Pesutto

Mr. John Pesutto

Leader of the Victorian Liberal Party

John Pesutto is the Liberal Leader of the Victorian Opposition, the Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs and the Member for Hawthorn.

John has an extensive record of service in government, public policy and in the Hawthorn community.  Most recently, prior to re-entering Parliament, John operated his own consultancy advising government departments and public sector agencies on governance, integrity and performance issues. He was also Senior Fellow at Melbourne University’s School of Government and regularly appeared on TV, radio and was a fortnightly columnist for The Age.

From 2014 to 2018, John was Victoria’s Shadow Attorney General and the Member for Hawthorn in the Victorian Parliament. Prior to entering politics, John worked as Counsel to Premier Denis Napthine, Chief of Staff to the Health Minister and as a Senior Advisor to Premier Ted Baillieu.

As a lawyer (graduating from the University of Melbourne in 1994 with commerce and law degrees), John spent many years in private legal practice with a focus on industrial relations and employment matters.

John, his wife Betty and their three daughters have been part of the Hawthorn community for over 20 years.

Overview of address for EECON2023:

Victorian opposition leader, Mr. John Pesutto, shall provide his views on the current government’s energy and climate change policies and the impact these policies are having on affordability, energy security, employment, safety and the environment. This shall include electricity and gas markets and the electrification of transport. John will provide some insights into the direction our state might go under the leadership of a Liberal State Government.


The Hon. Lily D'Ambrosio MP

Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Energy and Resources, Minister for the State Electricity Commission

Lily D’Ambrosio is a member of the Australian Labor Party and has represented the electorate of Mill Park in the Victorian Legislative Assembly since 2002.

She has previously served as Minister for a variety of portfolios, including Community Development, Industry, Suburban Development and Environment.

But most notably she is Australia’s longest serving current Minister for Energy, having been in the role since 2014, as well as currently being the Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Energy and Resources, and Minister for State Electricity Commission.

Minister D’Ambrosio is a leader in action on climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency in Australia, and has led the modernisation of much of Victoria’s key environmental regulations. She managed the passage of a restored Climate Change Act, Victoria's landmark climate legislation, which saw it become the first Australian state to legislate in line with the Paris Agreement for net zero emissions by 2050, a target that has since been updated to 2045.

Under her leadership, Victoria is seeing the fastest real reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

Recently she announced Victoria’s commitment to nation leading targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, including a goal of halving emissions by 2030 and reducing them by 75-80% by 2035.

She was proud to join with the Premier, Daniel Andrews, to announce the revival of the State Electricity Commission, with a mandate to build a portfolio of 4.5 gigawatts of publicly owned renewable energy by 2035, as part of a landmark commitment to reach 95% renewable energy in Victoria.

Minister D’Ambrosio is passionate about redesigning the Australian energy market to facilitate a smooth transition into a renewable, reliable and affordable energy future, and one that puts the interests of the public ahead of profits.

Michael Barr

Prof. Michael Brear

Director, Melbourne Energy Institute

Michael Brear is the Director of MEI. His own research and consulting are with industry and government on

  • The technical, economic and environmental analysis of transport and energy systems.
  • The combustion of conventional and alternative fuels.
  • Stationary and mobile powerplant featuring engines, turbines, energy storage and renewables.

Michael is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering Australia and the Australian Institute of Energy. He previously established the University’s multi-disciplinary degree, the Master of Energy Systems.

Prior to commencing at the University, Michael worked for ICI Australia (now Orica), then undertook graduate studies at Cambridge University and post doctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Overview of address for EECON2023:

Prof. Michael Brear will present on the Net Zero Australia study, an independent international
collaborative project to identify pathways to decarbonise Australia and what it means for the energy industry. Solutions exist but require all sectors to act.


Prof. Julie Arblaster

Professor, School of Earth Atmosphere and Environment, Monash University

Julie Arblaster is a professor and climate scientist in the School of Earth, Atmosphere and
Environment at Monash University. She has served on many national and international committees, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the WMO/UNEP Scientific Assessment for Ozone Depletion and the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Panel. She has received the 2014 Anton Hales Medal for research in earth sciences from the Australian Academy of Science, and the 2017 Priestley Medal from the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society. Julie’s research uses climate models as tools to understand the mechanisms of climate variability and extremes in observed and future climates.

Overview of address for EECON2023:

Prof. Julie Arblaster will present the latest research on climate modelling, what it means for future generations and global efforts or lack thereof to reach net zero emissions. The outlook is worrying but if we act with urgency the worst outcomes can still be averted.


Scott Ryan

Chief Safety, Asset & Operating Officer, Endeavour Energy

Scott started as a Cadet Engineer at Endeavour Energy and has a wealth of experience in the energy industry. He brings a deep knowledge of Endeavour Energy to the executive team, having worked in many aspects of the business including asset management, operations, regulatory and retail.

Scott also established the successful unregulated growth business, leading the entire end-to- end operations from business development to delivery.

Scott’s current role of Chief Safety, Asset & Operating Officer has responsibility for the safety
strategy and performance for the organisation, as well as driving the asset management strategy to meet the growth, reliability and emerging technology needs of our customers.

This consists of a team of over 1,000 engineers, project managers, technicians, designers and field staff.  A critical component of this division is the 24/7 nature, that is needed to respond to emergencies to maintain a safe, reliable and affordable network for over 1,000,000 customers. Scott holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering; Master of Business Administration; General Manager Program from AGSM; Integrated Safety Management Systems Course from the Singapore Aviation Academy; Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors; Fellow, Institution of Engineers Australia and a Chartered Professional Engineer, Engineers Australia.

Overview of address for EECON2023:

Mr. Scott Ryan will discuss the critical role networks play to modernise the grid to accommodate distributed energy resources (DERs) such as rooftop solar and batteries, electric vehicles and community and grid scale batteries. Scott will explain how to do this while also keeping networks reliable and resilient in the face of a changing climate.

Alistair Parker

Alistair Parker

CEO at VicGrid

Alistair is the CEO of VicGrid, which co-ordinates the overarching planning and development of Victorian REZs. He has more than 30 years’ experience in the energy industry, including a decade of senior leadership roles, in the forefront of the energy transition.

Alistair’s prior executive employment included various roles at AusNet Services and the NT Power and Water Corporation, including running AusNet’s three main regulated businesses, driving better safety, cost, customer and reputational outcomes.

Before moving to Australia, Alistair spent 15 years with National Grid, UK, initially as an engineer, then moving into commercial roles. In 2000, he became a consultant with Ernst & Young in New Zealand before moving to PricewaterhouseCoopers in Australia, ultimately as Melbourne Energy Economics Practice Leader.

Overview of address for EECON2023:

Mr. Alistair Parker will discuss the Victorian government’s programs including renewable energy zones (REZs) to allow greater renewable energy to connect to electricity networks, the role of the SEC, and emissions targets.

Robert Barr
Robert Barr

Dr. Robert Barr

BE(Hons), ME, PhD, FIE(Aust), CPEng, AM
Director at Electric Power Consulting

Dr Robert Barr is a consulting engineer, director of his company Electric Power Consulting Pty Ltd and past National President of the Electric Energy Society of Australia. Robert has over 47 years experience in the field of power systems and electricity distribution.

  • Fellow of Engineers Australia.
  • Member of Consult Australia.
  • Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Wollongong.
  • Australian National Professional Electrical Engineer of the year in 2012.
  • Member of the Order of Australia in 2013 for significant service to engineering, particularly electrical energy supply and distribution.

Since establishing Electric Power Consulting Pty Ltd in 1989, Robert has been providing specialised electrical engineering consulting services across all Australian states and territories and overseas. Robert's main clients include electricity supply companies, high voltage electricity customers, railway companies, federal, state & local governments, universities and other large energy users.

Overview of address for EECON2023:

We will learn about AEMO’s Integrated System Plan (ISP), the nation’s most comprehensive plan to decarbonise the electricity industry, while Dr. Robert Barr will challenge some of the modelling forecasts in this plan and provide a different perspective.

Dr Ron Ben-David

Dr. Ron Ben-David

Professorial Fellow, Monash University
Principal, Solrose Consulting

Dr Ron Ben-David is a Professorial Fellow with the Monash Business School and the principal of Solrose Consulting. Between 2008 and 2019, Ron served as full-time chair of the Essential Service Commission (Vic) where he led many far-reaching reforms. He is known for his free- thinking style and willingness to challenge the conventional wisdom of economic regulation.

Ron is a board member at ClimateWorks Australia and the Consumer Policy and Research Centre. He is an advisory board member for the Centre for Market Design and has been a member of the AER’s Consumer Reference Group and Consumer Challenge Panel. Last year, Ron was appointed to the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission as deputy chair.

Overview of address for EECON2023:

Dr. Ron Ben-David will discuss how we must get the balance right to ensure energy remains affordable, so Australian industry remains competitive and those most vulnerable in our community are not forgotten.


Tony Wood

Energy and Climate Change Program Director, Grattan Institute

Tony has been Director of the Energy Program since 2011 after 14 years working at Origin Energy in senior executive roles.

From 2009 to 2014 he was also Program Director of Clean Energy Projects at the Clinton Foundation, advising governments in the Asia-Pacific region on effective deployment of large-scale, low-emission energy technologies. In 2008, he was seconded to provide an industry perspective to the first Garnaut climate change review.

In January 2018, Tony was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of his significant service to conservation and the environment, particularly in the areas of energy policy, climate change and sustainability. In October 2019, Tony was elected as a Fellow to the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

Overview of address for EECON2023:

Tony Wood will provide an overview of the existing energy landscape in Australia.  He will explain which organisations and government bodies are currently shaping and guiding the transition to net zero emissions including the role of AEMO and provide an overview of the Integrated System Plan (ISP).  As the Energy and Climate Change Program Director at the Grattan Institute, Tony can provide a subjective unbiased view of the industry, government policy, and what needs to change.


Steven Neave

Executive General Manager, Digital and Network Management, AusNet Services

Steven joined AusNet in 2020 and has more than 30 years’ experience in the energy sector and drives excellence in risk-based asset management practices, network performance, reliability improvements and capability development. He is responsible for asset management, planning, network engineering, reliability and network safety across our three regulated electricity and gas networks. He is also responsible for our digital portfolio.

Prior to joining AusNet, he was a General Manager for CitiPower/Powercor’s electricity networks and a member of its executive team.

Steven holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from Victoria University and a Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Swinburne University of Technology.


Nick Finch

Chief Engineer
Akaysha Energy

Nick Finch has almost ten years’ engineering experience in power generation including BESS, Wind, Solar, OCGT, CCGT and Coal power stations. Working in Development, Construction, Asset Management and Operations & Maintenance across a broad range of generation technologies, Nick brings a deep and comprehensive electrical skillset to the Akaysha team.

Prior to joining Akaysha, Nick led electrical engineering works across ENGIE Australia’s generation fleet in addition to managing NEM Grid Connections and Electrical Asset Development, including the Hazelwood BESS project. Now as Akaysha’s Chief Engineer, Nick applies his practical Asset Management background and deep understanding of traditional synchronous power station operation to the modern era of inverter-based renewables and BESS development.



Site Tour 1 - REFCL Bushfire Prevention & Phillip Island Community Energy Storage System

Tuesday, 14 Nov 2023
8.30am - 5pm

About $1B has been invested by Victorian electricity distribution businesses to install Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) technology to prevent powerline faults starting bushfires. This technology was developed in the wake of the devasting Black Saturday bushfires and has proven to prevent bushfires and save lives. Delegates will travel to AusNet Service’s Lang Lang zone substation to see the equipment firsthand and hear from the engineers who have designed, installed and operate it. This will be followed by lunch at San Remo before traveling to Phillip Island for a guided tour of the Phillip Island Community Energy Storage System (PICESS). This $10M battery system consists of a 10MWh lithium-ion phosphate battery supplied by Hitachi Energy and can provide a peak output of 5MW to supply energy during peak periods, supports the storage of renewable energy and reduces reliance on seasonally added diesel generators required to support peak demand for the island.