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Introducing our new Policy and Industry Engagement Manager

– Bridget Ryan, Policy and Industry Engagement Manager, RE-Alliance.

I’m so chuffed to be on board as the Policy & Industry Engagement Manager with the Renewable Energy Alliance. I joined in May and have since jumped into all the issues, getting my ‘feet under the desk’ on responses and advice to the Australian Energy Regulator, Australian Energy Markets Commission, VicGrid, and the Queensland Government, and in working with our allies in environment and civil society NGOs. I’ve also dabbled in content – finessing and refining some of our comms pieces with the wider team. With this post, I’m going more personal, telling you more about who I am and why I’ve joined the team.

What do I value?

Connections, people and trust. When I was looking to move on from my last job, it was these three values that I was looking to find in the organisation and role that I took up. The remit of RE-Alliance – working to secure an energy transformation that delivers long-term benefits and prosperity for regional Australia – is well aligned. These values are reflected also in the people in this organisation today, starting with Andrew Bray and the wider team who are all top humans.

What do I bring to the table?

I’ve been working in energy since the early 2000s, starting with broader energy policy work and slowly working my way into roles with a stronger remit on sustainability and climate change mitigation. 

In 2011, I landed a job with a renewable energy developer – Pacific Hydro – and started to see first-hand challenges for developers and communities in navigating clunky and out-dated rules, regulations, policies and quite varied practice across the industry. 

In 2014, I moved into communications and stakeholder engagement with ARENA, and in 2017 took a short term job at the Clean Energy Council before then joining an energy tech firm as their partnerships, communications and policy manager. 

With deep experience across government, private sector and NGOs, I’m not new to issues that exist around energy projects for industry and for communities, and I’m familiar with many policy frameworks that are being reformed, are in line for reform now or will be soon. 

Are we making progress?

Big changes are often made up of a few big things and lots of incremental action. I’ve seen a lot of positive change over years that show renewables, storage and smart tech combine well to decarbonise the system. The grid to connect that all up has been an issue for a long time, but we are fast catching up via the Renewable Energy Zones and critical new transmission links. There is more awareness at all levels of companies and in government agencies with remits in this area about community engagement (still not enough action, though). Industry has more consistent approaches to monetary benefit sharing and more investment in people to do this more effectively. There is a more welcoming space made to better engage First Nations and Traditional Owner communities that goes beyond acknowledgment. There are more women across all levels of organisations which also demonstrates change in culture is possible and positive.

What will I be doing?

Joining RE-Alliance in this role combines my industry engagement and policy experience with a clear focus on the people that are central to the energy transition: host communities and their regions. I will take on areas that need attention to raise the bar of industry practice, and lead our engagement on government policies and frameworks. I’ll also be developing new policy and research initiatives, in collaboration with the team and other allies, to further the fantastic work we’ve been doing. I’m really glad to be joining and working to effect better practice so we deliver a transition with climate, human and nature positive outcomes.

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