Jonathan Brearley is to take over as chief executive of UK energy regulator Ofgem, succeeding Dermot Nolan.
Brearley, currently the regulator’s executive director for systems and networks, will take the hot seat when Nolan steps down at the end of February 2020.
Nolan, originally appointed as Ofgem chief executive in 2013, last December agreed to an extension of his contract until at least February 2020, as the regulator searched for a successor and to oversee the introduction of Ofgem’s much-maligned price cap.
That search was achieved through an open competition with an appointment panel chaired by a civil service commissioner. That search has eventually resulted in an inside appointment, with Brearley making the step up after nearly three-and-a-half years at the regulator.
Martin Cave, chairman at Ofgem, said Brearley would be taking on the role “at a time of unparalleled change in the energy industry”, with decarbonisation pressing high on the sector’s agenda.
“Ofgem’s role is to ensure that consumers, especially the vulnerable, are protected from sharp practice and receive fair treatment.
“Jonathan has impressed me with his wholehearted commitment to this aim. Our current network price control proposals for network companies, that he has led, are on track to play their full part in decarbonising the economy and to save consumers around £6 billion from 2021.
“Jonathan’s many years of experience in the energy industry and of climate change mean that he is also well placed to ensure that Ofgem plays a key role in delivering a net zero economy at the lowest cost to consumers,” Cave said.
The choice of Brearley to lead the regulator moving forward would also hint at the importance Ofgem is placing on the introduction and enforcement of the forthcoming RIIO2 network price controls, which Brearley has led from his current position.
Due to come into force between 2021 and 2023, with gas, transmission and distribution networks facing separate transition periods, RIIO-2 stands to be a far tougher regulatory regime for networks as Ofgem seeks to tighten investor returns.
Brearley, meanwhile, said he was determined to deliver the best possible energy system for the country’s consumers.
“Ofgem has a key role to play in protecting consumers and supporting the transition to a ‘net zero economy’ by 2050, which will see the most dramatic change in energy for generations.
“For Ofgem to do so effectively in a rapidly changing market, it is imperative that we improve our ability to act quickly and robustly to protect consumers. Equally, as a father in a mixed race family, I know that we and the industry need a greater diversity of talents and perspectives if we are going to be able to deliver for all the different consumer groups we work for,” he said.