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Power Trustees get down to work

6 October 2017

Newly elected HB Power Consumer trustees held their first meeting of the new triennium on Friday. Elected Chair, Diana Kirton provides an update.

"It was a real honour to be elected to the position of chairperson with deputy chair Ken Gilligan. Receiving the unanimous support of trustees with the nomination of Helen Francis and Kevin Atkinson indicates a great start for a cohesive team approach.

This term of the trust is likely to be extremely challenging. The trust must respond to the wishes of consumer shareholders through a mandatory ownership review. Shareholders will have the opportunity to have their say on continuing ownership and use of the dividend.

However, the biggest challenge will be positioning a regional asset worth over $500million. The energy sector faces major technology changes. Operating a lines company in an environment that will see vastly different types of energy production and transmission, offers great opportunities but also threatens existing business.

We will be putting several options to shareholders as part of the ownership review. We need to consider if all the capital should be retained in Unison. We need to ask if there should be a diversified portfolio to “de-risk” the shareholding. Options include applying some of the capital to other strong revenue producing assets, not necessarily held by Unison. 

 We will be asking if “out of region” holdings are in the best interests of our Hawke’s Bay shareholders. Continued consumer ownership is likely to be a strongly held sentiment. However, moving away from direct lines company operations could be a possible outcome of the review, providing the consumers retain ownership of the assets. Options such as concession holding partnerships may be proposed, which offer opportunities to free up considerable capital.

The trust has some amazing talent and experience. These skills will be tested to the full as we navigate the challenges in front of us.

Of particular note is the strong representation of women on the trust. Having the 60% representation is probably a first for a publicly elected body in Hawke’s Bay. The mix of community and business skills is as real plus for the trust over this term."

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