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New Permanent Secretary For DECC

May 10, 2016

By Paul Homewood 


h/t Philip Bratby


Alex Chilsholm


DECC announce that Alex Chisholm has been appointed as the new Permanent Secretary for the Department of Energy and Climate Change:


Alex Chisholm has been appointed as the new Permanent Secretary for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. This follows the announcement that Stephen Lovegrove will move across to become Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence.

Alex, who is currently Chief Executive of the Competition and Markets Authority, was chosen following an open competition.

The appointment has been made by the Prime Minister in agreement with the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, and the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd.

Alex will take up his post at DECC on Monday 4 July.

Alex Chisholm has spent the last 9 years heading up high performance public agencies responsible for economic regulation and market development: the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority, and Ireland’s Commission for Communications Regulation. Previously he worked for 12 years in business, beginning in the strategy team at Pearson plc and then running a series of international businesses in the media, technology, ecommerce and retail sectors. His early career was spent in the Civil Service which he joined as a fast-streamer and then worked in a number of economic policy roles in the Department of Trade & Industry and the Office of Fair Trading. 


So he knows naff all about energy, and even less about climate!

  1. May 10, 2016 4:54 pm

    He’ll be perfect then.

    • John Palmer permalink
      May 10, 2016 5:30 pm

      Well, he’ll feel entirely at home, won’t he?
      With the French quite likely to walk away from Hinckley (fingers crossed!), wind averaging under 15% at best (and at huge cost) and their policies destroying any economic argument for building CCGT or other, reliable and affordable energy sources, the last thing we really need is yet another Minister/PS etc with no experience in the energy field.
      And to think that I voted for them. Our PM and Chancellor have about as much of a grasp of the Energy Market as they had negotiating skills recently with the EU.

  2. Green Sand permalink
    May 10, 2016 5:47 pm

    Welcome Alex, not a minute too late! Last night, a warm May Monday evening:-

    “Breakdowns force National Grid to issue power supply crunch alert ”

    Stay long on generators and candles, next few winters could be interesting. Rest assured they will burn anything they can get their hands on. CO2 can go hang, it will be diesel, coal and more diesel. Lights out, government out and they know it!

  3. Joe Public permalink
    May 10, 2016 5:59 pm

    “Alex Chisholm ……. Previously he worked for 12 years in business, beginning in the strategy team at Pearson plc….”

    21/1/16: “Pearson to cut 4,000 jobs as it warns on profits”:

    28/7/14: “Microsoft isn’t the only big name bringing out the axe for the sake of reorganizing–and hopefully restoring–an iconic brand. Bloomberg reported that Pearson will have “cut 4,000 jobs in the two years through 2014″ as part of the London-based publisher’s restructuring efforts, first announced in May 2013. (Here’s what CEO John Fallon shared with us back in November.) But while these layoffs represent about 10 percent of Pearson’s global workforce, it will add 1,800 new positions to focus on digital and emerging markets.”

  4. Frank Everest permalink
    May 10, 2016 6:01 pm

    …knows nothing about climate or energy…
    That’s the Civil Service for you! They have a policy of moving people round every two years or so. So the word “permanent” is a bit of a joke in the Civil Service’s case.

  5. glenwaytown permalink
    May 10, 2016 6:29 pm

    “…..high performance public agencies” – an oxymoron if ever there was one!

    • John Palmer permalink
      May 10, 2016 7:30 pm

      And not just an oxymoron… complete bull**it.

  6. dave permalink
    May 11, 2016 7:01 am

    My daughter-in-law is an Arts graduate. She was recruited by Network Rail (they are in charge of railway infrastructure for the country) to be a senior project manager. They sent her to UCL for a year’s crash course in Economics (she knew precisely zero about the subject before and now has a hazy, vague sort of knowledge) and Management gobbledy-gook. Her husband who is a senior structural engineer said at the time in amazement, “But you know nothing about railway engineering!” She said “That was an essential requirement. They [the Bureaucrat jobsworths] are convinced we will make better decisions if we don’t know how to build a railway!”

    • Tim Hammond permalink
      May 11, 2016 8:36 am

      Depends what sort of project she is managing, and what she is doing surely? No doubt Network Rail has lots of people who know how to build a railway, so adding another one will add pretty much nothing. They probably (if my experience in other businesses holds) have too few people who know about other things and who do not think like railway engineers.

      • dave permalink
        May 11, 2016 12:20 pm

        “…what she is doing…?”

        I dunno, but she spends a lot of time in meetings.
        I tell her her bum is spreading. That doesn’t go down well.

      • dave permalink
        May 11, 2016 12:57 pm

        Actually, she does her best. Once I said to her she looked a bit frazzled. She said they had been discussing that day whether to use NPV or IRR for something. She pushed two formulas across the table, “Just tell me.” “What?” “Which is which!”

  7. Malcolm permalink
    May 11, 2016 8:29 am

    You don’t have to know anything about the subject at that sort of level, your Civil Servants and ‘experts’ provide that. As there is no indication that the superstructure of that department has changed, or its preferred advisor’s, then you can only come to the conclusion that this man is better at getting his own way and a forcing agent for directives issued elsewhere. Wait for the shit storm.

  8. Tim Hammond permalink
    May 11, 2016 8:40 am

    I think you are being a little harsh or perhaps even a little naive about what government does. The DECC has plenty of experts, and easy access to far more. adding another expert is not going to improve what DEC does and says in any way. And the PS’ job is not to be an expert, but to distill advice into policy. That doesn’t require expertise in climate/energy.

    • Archie permalink
      May 13, 2016 11:55 am

      Tim, I agree with your point about the role of the PS.

      However, I interact with DECC officials on a regular basis in my job. It would be very generous to call the vast majority “experts” of any particular field. Most seem to spend a lot of time in meetings (often internal) where they get hung up on the most peculiar details. To make things worse, whenever you think you’ve encountered an official (ironically, usually one of the more junior ones) with a good understanding of energy policy they get shunted along to another department.

  9. It doesn't add up... permalink
    May 11, 2016 1:08 pm

    Presumably he oversaw the recent CMA “investigation” into the Big 6. That produced the prescribed whitewash:

    So he gets the reward. The idea that DECC/OFGEM policy is responsible for high energy prices was entirely buried. What could possibly be a better CV for the position?

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