Sally Hunt: Energy expert who helped mastermind electricity privatisation in Britain in the 1980s

Sally Hunt was a world-renowned expert on the electricity industry who helped to mastermind the privatisation of that sector in Britain during the late 1980s – a task which many considered impossible to achieve successfully.

Hunt was born in Woking on 9 September 1943. She attended a state primary school and went, on scholarships, to Sutton High School for Girls and Somerville College, Oxford, where she took a degree in philosophy, politics and economics. At the time, the total quota for women students at Oxford University was still one thousand, even though they had been permitted to earn Oxford degrees since 1938.

She began her career in the 1960s as a research assistant at the London School of Economics. She married an American, Richard Streiter, and moved first to Paris and then to New York, where her two sons, Paul Streiter and Mark (Reign) Streiter, were born. In the late 1960s she joined Mayor John V Lindsay's New York City Budget Bureau, working first on education and then on air and water pollution. Her connection with the Bureau was to be a lasting one; in recent years, she was on the selection committee for the Hayes Prize, an annual award given to New York City employees by friends and admirers of Fred Hayes, the Budget director when Hunt first arrived at the organisation. She became assistant commissioner for air pollution control, and during the energy crisis of 1973 she became deputy director of the newly created Energy Office.

Despite passing the requisite New York City Civil Service examination, Hunt was passed over twice for permanent appointment. She asked the Chair of the City Civil Service Commission why; he replied that it would have helped if she were Irish, if she were male, if she were over 40 and if she could drink.

At 30, she left City government and joined NERA, an economic consulting firm with a large specialty in energy. She soon became a vice president, testifying in electricity and other energy regulatory cases all over the US and before congressional committees. She was chief economic investigator on the Montana coal tax case, a constitutional case that went to the US Supreme Court. Seeking electric industry experience, she went to Con Edison as corporate economist in the office of the president, wrestling with regulatory problems. She made sure that she spent every Thursday in the field studying the "real world" of manholes, power stations and transmission towers.

In 1988, NERA won the contract to advise the Central Electricity Generating Board in England on how to privatise the electric industry and introduce competition at the same time. This had never been done anywhere, and most experts considered it impossible. But Hunt's last child was in college; her mother in England was old. It was a perfect fit. She rejoined NERA full time and moved to London.

More than two years and dozens of meetings, drafts and negotiations were required to develop a workable plan – and the plan that emerged has survived remarkably well. The people who constructed it had found a new talent – electricity restructuring. Hunt returned to the US, where she had become a citizen, and was appointed head of the energy practice at NERA and elected to the Board.

Hunt travelled extensively in the following years, advising governments and industry members on how to introduce competition in electricity. She wrote, with Graham Shuttleworth, Competition and Choice in Electricity (Wiley, London 1996), followed by Making Competition Work in Electricity (Wiley, New York 2002). The latter was reviewed in the Journal of Energy Literature, which noted that: "It will undoubtedly become recommended, if not required reading for students, researchers, regulators, and the industry alike."

Hunt consulted in China for 12 years, at the invitation of the World Bank. She also worked at length with the Ministry of Energy in Mexico, helping to draft the white paper on reform of the electric sector, which was published, but went nowhere. She spent much time in California and New Jersey, working with electric utilities as reforms were introduced.

As her sons, Paul and Mark, became parents in Hawaii and Georgia respectively, Hunt decided to retire. At her retirement party she said she had been saving time all her life – and now she planned to spend it, and even waste it. She wanted to develop real relationships with each of her six grandchildren and to visit far-flung friends. She still did occasional consulting, most recently in Turkey for the Ministry of Energy. When cancer was diagnosed, she was glad she had had those years with her family – and at a slower pace.

In addition to her sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren, Sally issurvived by her husband, Ronald A Twitty, and her sister, Carole Hurst, of Wokingham, England. Her first husband, Richard Streiter, also survives her. Contributions in Sally Hunt's name in the US should go to The Hayes Prize Fund at the Fund for the City of New York; and in the UK to the Somerville College Fund.

William Josephson

Sally Streiter Hunt, corporate consultant: born Woking 9 September 1943; married firstly Richard Streiter (two sons; marriage dissolved), 2009 Ronald A Twitty; died Hawaii 13 September 2010.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

MBDA UK Ltd: Mission Planning and Control Solutions Systems Engineer

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? A pro-act...

MBDA UK Ltd: System Design Capability

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? The small...

Recruitment Genius: Time Served Fabricator / Welders - Immediate Start

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fabricator welder required for ...

Recruitment Genius: Inbound Customer Service Advisors

£14564 - £15311 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Inbound Customer Service Adviso...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific