Join the exciting team at one of Sydney’s critical water infrastructure assets!
At the Sydney Desalination Plant, we pride ourselves on being an inclusive and exciting business that challenges its staff to be the best version of themselves. We’re a team that encourages its people to use and develop their skills in a small, yet highly performing team where they can pursue their interests across the business. Being privately owned, SDP is a dynamic business with numerous professional challenges in managing diverse and complex assets through contractual, financial and regulatory interfaces.
As the critical piece of the greater Sydney water supply system, the Sydney Desalination Plant provides high quality drinking water to about 1.5 million people across homes and businesses. If you’re a personable, driven, and innovative worker who’d love to help safeguard Sydney’s water supply, then we’d love to hear from you.
Head of Regulation (Expansion)
Head of Regulation (Expansion)
Position listed on: September 28, 2023.
Applications close: October 13, 2023.
Sydney Desalination Plant Pty Limited (SDP) manages a critical rainfall independent water asset that helps to ensure reliable, high quality drinking water for Sydney. The existing Plant is designed to produce an average output of 250 million litres of water per day over a 12-month period (91 gigalitres per year), roughly 15% of Sydney’s drinking water supply. SDP also has the potential to expand its capacity to 500 million litres of water per day (183 gigalitres per year), roughly 30% of Sydney’s drinking water supply. The potential expansion of the plant by SDP is governed by an existing agreement between SDP and the NSW Government.
SDP operates according to rules set out in SDP’s Network Operator’s and Retail Supplier’s Licences issued by the NSW Government under the Water Industry Competition Act (WICA). Since 1 July 2023, the plant has formally shifted to flexible full-time operation with production requests issued by Sydney Water depending on network needs.
SDP supplies water to Sydney Water under a 50-year Water Supply Agreement, the term of which concludes in 2062.
SDP recovers revenue for its services from Sydney Water based on regulated prices which are set by IPART. The last pricing determination made in June 2023 also incorporates decisions on the risk management and incentive frameworks applying to SDP.
The operations and maintenance of the plant is outsourced under a long-term contract (O&M contract) to Veolia Water Australia. The energy to power the plant is sourced under long-term renewable energy contracts with Iberdrola Australia. Sourcing energy under these contracts is a requirement under the planning approval for the construction of the Plant and a windfarm located near Bungendore in NSW was built to underpin the contracts.
The SDP has a Board comprised of representatives from both shareholders and a management team of seven people. Annual revenue is approximately $240m per annum (at roughly 70% production), the regulated asset value is around $2bn and the asset is funded via a mix of debt and equity.
What will you do?
The Head of Regulation will be responsible for delivery of a high-quality Expansion Regulatory Submission and, if the Expansion occurs, combined expanded plant Pricing Submissions at regular intervals thereafter. The Head of Regulation will need to work effectively with the rest of the SDP team and manage a team of external advisors to deliver these projects. This will involve developing detailed project plans and co-ordinating resources effectively.
For the Expansion project the Head of Regulation will need to lead the Regulatory stream and work effectively with all other streams (including technical design, finance, energy, operations and maintenance and the project management office) to deliver a value enhancing outcome from the Expansion of the plant.
Should the role continue, for ongoing regulatory projects, the Head of Regulation will be responsible for day-to-day coordination and management of a team of external advisors that typically includes:
• Regulatory economic adviser
• Energy adviser
• Technical/ engineering advisor
• Graphic designer
• Legal advisers
• Regulatory modeller
• Technical writer
The Head of Regulation will also need to manage SDP’s engagement on IPART reviews including WACC reviews, price reviews for other NSW water utilities and regulatory framework reviews (with external assistance where efficient).
The SDP Head of Regulation will be responsible for maintaining strong working relationships with IPART, Sydney Water and other regulated water utilities in NSW. The Head of Regulation will also need to monitor broader regulatory trends in other sectors and jurisdictions to ensure their thinking is at the forefront of economic regulation.
The SDP Head of Regulation will need to think outside of the box to identify opportunities to manage SDP’s risks and enhance value both through the Expansion project and on an on-going basis.
Who are we looking for?
The Head of Regulation will require the following key attributes:
• At least 5 years of relevant work experience, ideally 7-10 years.
• Strategic thinker that understands economic regulation, including how policy instruments interact and how to structure an incentive-based regulatory package.
• Strong understanding of the building block approach to price regulation and how different building blocks can impact long-term value.
• Excellent inter-personal and engagement skills for both internal (e.g. colleagues and the Board) and external stakeholders (e.g. IPART, Sydney Water, NSW government);
• Can present competently to the SDP Executive and Board.
• Excellent verbal, written and presentational communication skills.
• Strong project management skills, able to deliver complex projects within specified timeframes and budgets.
• Experience with economic regulatory processes (e.g. water, energy network, telecommunications or other infrastructure price regulation).
• Takes ownership and accountability for key tasks with varying degrees of support (“rolls-up sleeves” where necessary to get the job done).
• Aptitude to understand engineering operational and asset management strategies in the water industry, as well as financial management and strategy for essential infrastructure assets
The Head of Regulation will report to the General Manager Strategy and Commercial.
The primary place of work will be the SDP Corporate office at Suite 19, Level 17 Australia Square, 264-268 George Street, Sydney and/ or the SDP Expansion Project Office to be located in the Sydney CBD.
At times, there will be a requirement to attend SDP’s plant site at 21 Sir Joseph Banks Drive, Kurnell.
Don’t see a role that’s right for you?
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is the Sydney Desalination Plant operating?While the Plant was originally designed to operate only in times of drought, it has remained operational since 2019 to help address several storage dam water quality issues arising from bushfires, flooding and significant maintenance tasks in Sydney Water’s supply network.
The Sydney Desalination Plant’s WICA Network Operator’s Licence enables the Plant to remain operational, recognising that the Plant has always been, and will continue to be, an essential component of Sydney’s water management and an integral part of our city’s water-resilient future.
- How much water does the Plant produce?The Plant can provide up to 15 per cent of Sydney’s average drinking water needs without any reliance on rainfall.
It treats, filters and re-mineralises seawater to produce up to 91.25 gigalitres per annum of high-quality drinking water.
Under our WICA Network Operator’s Licence, the Plant will operate on a “flexible full-time basis”, producing between about 20 gigalitres to 91.25 gigalitres every year.
- What does desalinated water taste like?Sydney Desalination Plant water is treated to taste the same as Sydney’s other drinking water.
Like dam water, water from the desalination plant is treated to meet Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, which makes it among the best in the world.
- Who owns the Plant?Sydney Desalination Plant is jointly owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board and the Utilities Trust of Australia, which is managed by Morrison & Co. Find out more on our About Us page.
- Why is desalination important?The Sydney Desalination Plant is Sydney’s only major sources of non-rainfall dependent drinking water. It is one effective way of securing Sydney’s water supply against the effects of climate change and natural disasters and the increase in demand due to population growth, warmer weather and urban greening projects.
While the Plant was originally designed to respond to Australia’s severe millennium drought, recent experiences have demonstrated that drought is only one type of event that requires support from the Plant to ensure clean and safe drinking water for Greater Sydney.
The Plant has been a reliable drinking water supply during floods and bushfires, which caused water quality challenges from time to time in Sydney’s storage dams.
- Where does the water go?The Plant can supply water to homes and businesses south of Sydney Harbour and as far west as Bankstown, as part of all their water supply.
Sydney Water uses a variety of water sources to supply customer needs. Where your water comes from depends on demand and where in Sydney you live.
If you live in the blue-shaded area on this map, you may receive water from the dams, the Sydney Desalination Plant or a combination of both. The Plant's water proportion will change throughout the day due to variations in supply and demand.
Everyone will benefit from desalination because it allows more water to be left in the dams, which means a more secure water supply for Sydney.
- How much energy does the Plant use?The Sydney Desalination Plant requires roughly 38 megawatts at full production and is 100 per cent powered by renewable energy.
The average energy needed to provide drinking water to one household is about the same as the energy used to run a household fridge.
- What’s the impact on the environment?Sydney Desalination Plant places a high priority on minimising any environmental impacts – both on land and in the water.
To support this, the Plant has put in place a world first stringent six-year marine environment monitoring program. The marine environment was monitored for three years before construction and three years after the Plant became operational. It demonstrated that the Plant has minimal effect on the marine environment.
On land, a third of the Plant site at Kurnell has been maintained as a conservation area. This area is protected, and native species of flora and fauna are regularly monitored. This includes a program to survey the numbers of grey-headed flying foxes and green and golden bell frogs in the area.