Peter Dixon steps down as chair of Phoenix Energy Holdings

Former engineer became a key figure in the establishment of the north’s gas pipeline network

Signage at a Phoenix Energy work site, where pipeline is being installed in Co Down, with an inset image of Peter Dixon.
Peter Dixon (inset) has stepped down as chairman of Phoenix Energy Holdings.

Peter Dixon, a key figure in the establishment of the north’s natural gas network, has stepped down as chairman of Phoenix Energy Holdings.

The end of Mr Dixon’s 27-year relationship with the company comes as the gas distribution group changes ownership.

A consortium linked to Hong Kong billionaire, Li Ka-Shing, is paying around £760m for full control of Phoenix Energy Holdings.

Peter Dixon initially joined Phoenix as commercial director in February 1997 and served as group chief executive from 2000 until 2014.

He has spent the past decade as group chairman.

In his time, the group’s gas network grew from around 70km in 1997 to around 4,000km today.

Mr Dixon also served as a commissioner of Belfast Harbour and as the inaugural chairman of the Energy for Children Charitable Trust.

He was also involved in a row with members of Stormont’s Public Accounts Committee in 2010, where he sent a letter describing a line of questioning around his relationship with former NI Water boss Laurence MacKenzie as “disgraceful”.

Mr Dixon had been one of three appointees to an independent review looking at NI Water contracts, set up by former permanent secretary of the Department for Regional Development, Paul Priestly.

It later transpired Mr Priestly had been involved in the drafting of the letter to the committee.

The senior civil servant was later demoted from his post.

Former Phoenix Energy chairman, Gerry Loughran, sided with the committee in the dispute.

The current CEO of Phoenix, Kailash Chada, said Mr Dixon’s 48 years in the gas industry represented “remarkable service”.

He said his contribution to Phoenix “will leave a long legacy that will continue to support NI decarbonisation journey for generations to come”.