We are deeply sad at the loss of our very dear friend and Sustainability First colleague, Gill Owen. Gill died peacefully in Newcastle on 27 August 2016, having fought an aggressive brain tumour so bravely since her diagnosis in March 2014.
Gill was closely involved with Sustainability First from its early days and worked for over a decade as an Associate. She undertook extensive research and published widely on fuel poverty, energy efficiency, smart meters, distributed energy and demand side response. She led many of our projects and workshops, and authored many of our papers.
For three years up to March 2015, Gill was based in Melbourne, where inter alia she worked as a part-time senior researcher at Monash University. Gill provided advice to the Australian Energy Markets Commission and Australian Energy Regulator, where her outstanding contribution has been marked by this appreciation. When she returned to the UK, Gill continued as a member of the newly set-up Board of Energy Consumers Australia and also continued her involvement with the Consumer Challenge Panel on Network Policy. Gill was a part-time senior research associate at the Energy Institute at University College, London.
Before leaving for Australia in 2012, Gill was vice-chair of the government’s Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, a non-executive director of the water regulator Ofwat and chair of the REAL consumer assurance scheme for micro-generation. Gill was a Commissioner of the UK’s Competition Commission for ten years until 2002 and had also been a non-executive board member of the energy regulator, Ofgem. She continued a close involvement with Ofgem as a member of Ofgem’s Social Action Strategy Review Group and Consumer Challenge Group. She was a member of DECC's Smart Meters Consumer Advisory Group (and also a member of the predecessor body run by Ofgem).
Gill continued to work closely with us from Australia, and thereafter once back in the UK. Gill’s commitment to social justice, especially for the fuel poor, shone out in everything she took on. We will sorely miss her incisive common sense, her strategic view, her extensive knowledge of consumer affairs, her deep regulatory expertise and her unfailing quest to make economic regulation better, more accountable and more sustainable. But above all, we will greatly miss Gill’s distinctive contribution and collaboration as a member of our small Sustainability First team.