Saunders will work alongside IPC chairman Sir Michael Pitt, commissioners and deputy chairs. As its accounting officer he will be responsible to parliament for ensuring that the organisation makes effective use of public funds.
After a 20-year career in corporate banking, Saunders moved to the public sector. Most recently he has held chief executive roles during the start-up phase at the Security Industry Authority and at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. He was awarded an OBE in 1998 for services to British businesses.
Kevin Williamson, who has been working with Pitt since April to set up the IPC, will continue as interim chief executive until Saunders takes over.
Pitt said: "Saunders brings strong leadership and business acumen. His appointment ensures that we are equipped to deliver to the highest standards."
The first national policy statements on nuclear power, renewable energy, electricity networks, fossil fuel generation, oil and gas infrastructure and ports and national networks are expected this autumn.