The ERA is made up of a three-member Governing Body, supported by a Secretariat.
The Governing Body is the ERA’s decision-making authority and performs the functions outlined in the Economic Regulation Authority Act 2003. The Secretariat is the initial point of contact in day-to-day dealings with the ERA, and provides advice and assistance to the Governing Body. The Secretariat is led by the Chief Executive Officer and has three divisions: Regulation, Energy Markets, and Corporate Services.
Our Governing Body
Steve Edwell, Chair
Steve is an economist specialising in the energy sector. Most of his work has been on behalf of the Federal and State Governments across Australia, where he has held various senior and statutory appointments.
Steve was appointed Chair of the ERA in August 2021. He brings to the role extensive experience specialising in the reform and regulation of utility services.
Steve’s regulatory experience includes being the inaugural Chair of the Australian Energy Regulator (2005-10) and a member of the ERA governing body from 2006 to 2017.
He is a former Chair of Horizon Power and before joining the ERA completed a two-year term as full time Chair of the Energy Transformation Taskforce. Steve is also currently the independent member of the Electricity Market Reform Implementation Taskforce in the Northern Territory.
Steve has undertaken various consulting assignments through his business Steve Edwell Consulting.
He has a Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) and a Master of Business Administration.
Virginia Christie, Governing Body Member
Virginia was appointed to the Governing Body of the ERA in February 2022. She also serves as a Director for the Government Employees Superannuation Fund (GESB), is an appointee of the Minister for ASIC's Insolvency and Disciplinary Committee and is a member of the Foundation and Board of Management at St Mary's Anglican Girls' School. Prior to this she has served as a non-executive director for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA and Keystart Loans Ltd.
Virginia has worked for over 20 years at the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Treasury in Canberra. She has also worked in other senior roles, offshore and in Australia.
She has a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) from UWA, a graduate diploma in finance and investment (ASIA) and the Foundations of Directorship from AICD (MAICD).
Michelle Groves, Governing Body Member
Michelle was appointed to the Governing Body of the ERA in August 2022. She is also Commissioner and Deputy Chair of Energy Safe Victoria (ESV).
Michelle was the CEO of the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) for 15 years. Prior to this she worked for the National Competition Council, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Western Australian Government.
She has a Bachelor of Arts from UWA, a Bachelor of Laws from UWA and a Master of Laws from Melbourne University.
Jenness Gardner, Chief Executive Officer
Jenness joined the ERA as Chief Executive Officer in November 2017. She has worked extensively in the state and commonwealth governments, most recently as executive director at the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation. Prior to that she was with the Department of Commerce.
Jenness has significant experience working in the resources sector, leading economic policy development, commercial negotiations and large scale project development for the State.
She has an honours degree in economics.
Rajat Sarawat, Executive Director, Energy Markets
Rajat joined the ERA in January 2012. Prior to joining the ERA, Rajat held various senior positions with the Essential Services Commission of South Australia and the Australian Energy Market Commission, where he led price reviews, access arrangements and inquiries.
He has more than 20 years of experience working in economic regulation.
He has a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration.
Sara O'Connor, Executive Director, Regulation
Sara joined the ERA as an Assistant Director in April 2017 and was promoted to Executive Director in April 2022. Prior to joining the ERA, Sara was a director of a small consultancy firm in Perth.
For over three decades Sara has held various senior positions in the regulated utility sector both in the United Kingdom and in Western Australia. She has worked for three regulators, OFWAT and OFGEM in the UK and now the ERA. Sara is also experienced the other side of the regulatory fence working for regulated service providers in the UK and Horizon Power, Western Power, Synergy and ATCO Gas Australia in WA. Her experience covers water, electricity and gas.
Sara has an honours degree in Business (Economics).
Pam Herbener, Director, Corporate Services
Pam has been with the ERA since it began in 2004, and has worked in Western Australian access regulation since 1998.
Pam has more than 30 years’ management experience across the not-for-profit, local, state and commonwealth government sectors.
She has accrued a breadth of knowledge across the finance, compliance, human resources, information technology, recordkeeping and communications functions.