Over the last decade Top Energy has been delivering an investment programme to improve the reliability and resilience of its Far North network. The programme has covered major upgrades, such as new 110kV and 33 kV substations and lines and the refurbishment of many of the older substations.

Chief Executive Russell Shaw says this investment has strengthened the backbone of the network putting the company in a position to explore new technologies such as batteries and more local generation. These, together with the recent consent approval to grow the Ngawha power station from 25MW to 75MW have the potential over time to make the Far North self-sufficient in renewable energy.

During this time, Top Energy also maintained a strong contracting presence in the Pacific with a number of staff working on projects across the islands. This work was varied and included connecting the Nadi Airport in Fiji; resort developments at Denarau and Naisoso; installing meters and rebuilding the network in Nauru; and working for MFAT to manage a large team from New Zealand power companies to restore supplies following last year’s devastating storms in Fiji.

However, Mr Shaw says, recently, there has been a significant drop in the volume of work available in the Pacific and we can see no change to this in the foreseeable future.

In addition, recent Health and Safety legislation requirements have led to a complete change in the way Top Energy carries out its line maintenance – particularly in respect of its work on live lines.

“The combination of completing our major upgrades, changes to Live Line practices and the reduction of work in the Pacific has affected the overall availability of work – impacting on the services provided by our contracting team.”

In response the company embarked on a review of its Contracting Services business and is currently consulting with staff around proposed changes.

“It was clear that staffing changes were unavoidable with the focus on maintaining the upgraded network rather than on major builds and extensions. The nature of our work is also changing with an emphasis on new technology which will not require large scale infrastructure changes on the network.”

Mr Shaw says the proposed changes will return the company to employment levels similar to that prior to the upgrades.

Top Energy currently employs 175 staff. Mr Shaw says that staff are being consulted on the proposed changes to 17 roles, which could be affected in management, field services, administration, construction and planning functions.

In addition, eight roles are proposed to be transferred from the Contracting Services Business into the company’s Network team. There are also three vacancies that staff could be redeployed to if the changes proceed as proposed. The depots at Puketona and Kaitaia will remain open, albeit with reduced numbers.

“We are a close team at Top Energy and people are understandably concerned about the proposed changes. Our priority is to manage a supportive transition for all of our staff.”

For more information please contact:

Philippa White

philippa.white@topenergy.co.nz / 021-2418740