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Unison's 2022/23 Annual Report highlights positive performance despite a challenging year

Electricity distributor Unison Networks has delivered a satisfactory financial performance in light of the unprecedented impact of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Unison released its Annual Report today, declaring a $15.8 million final dividend for its shareholder, the Hawke’s Bay Power Consumers’ Trust, which holds all the shares in Unison on behalf of consumers connected to its electricity network in Hawke's Bay.

The Unison Group’s overall financial performance for the year showed a net profit after tax at $27.1 million. This was a satisfactory result in light of the cyclone-related impacts affecting Unison’s network, and some residual impacts on supply chains and productivity from the pandemic.

Regulated line revenue was $146.6 million, and capital contributions remained solid at $11.7 million. Increased capital expenditure of $84.4 million reflects record levels of network investment, including $7 million related to replacement of assets following Cyclone Gabrielle and record levels of customer-driven capital expenditure to support continued growth in residential and commercial sectors.

Unison Group Chair, Philip Hocquard, said the Board was pleased with Unison’s results.

“In the face of challenging circumstances, including responding to one of our country’s worst natural disasters, Unison continued to deliver a sustained performance, and the Board is pleased to declare a dividend on par with last year.”

A new investment for the 2022/23 year included the acquisition of high-voltage electrical contracting services and solutions business Pringle, Beleski & Associates (PBA) by the Unison Group in April 2022. The addition of PBA further positions the Group as a collective of companies delivering innovative and progressive energy solutions to the wider electricity industry. PBA in turn acquired leading Australian-based energy supply services company Magnetic Power Services in April 2023.

Unison continued to support regional growth and customer’s sustainability goals, with 1481 new customers connected to Unison’s electricity network, 690 new solar installations, and a 5% increase in customers connected to Unison Fibre’s network.

Unison’s commitment to sustainability was applauded by the industry when it was awarded the Low Carbon Future Award at the 2022 New Zealand Energy Excellence Awards for its innovative Windsor Substation switchroom, which produces zero carbon, its own energy and water, and was designed in line with the Living Building Challenge – the most stringent environmental building design certification in the world.

“The cyclone demonstrated, in dramatic fashion, the heavy reliance communities have on dependable electricity supply,” says Mr Hocquard.

“We are conscious of the important role lines companies like Unison have in facilitating the electrification of local industry while supporting consumers changing energy needs to enable our communities to prosper. It is essential, particularly in the face of climate change, that we continue to invest wisely in this locally owned asset to ensure the service we provide to consumers is resilient, flexible, sustainable, and affordable.” 

“Unison is working closely with sector allies and regulators to understand and explore how the industry can support the transition to a cleaner energy future, and the investment required to achieve Aotearoa’s climate change goals.”

In April 2023 Unison farewelled outgoing Group Chief Executive Ken Sutherland after 21 years with the business and welcomed incoming Unison Group Chief Executive Jaun Park into the role.

“The Board thanks Ken for his sustained dedication and desire to see the business succeed, growing from a turnover of $33 million in 2002 to $320 million in 2023. The Board is pleased to have Mr Park step up into the role – having Jaun at the helm will ensure that Unison continues to deliver great service to its customers, whilst driving towards the Company’s vision to lead a sustainable energy future that enables our communities to prosper.”

“The Board also thanks the Hawke’s Bay Power Consumers’ Trustees for the valuable role they play in helping to ensure Unison’s ongoing success and sustainability.”

This November, the Hawke’s Bay Power Consumers’ Trustees will undertake a 5-yearly review of the ownership of the shares in Unison, which will go to public consultation.  More information about the review can be found at www.hbpct.co.nz/review-of-ownership

Mr Hocquard considers the future of Unison to be very bright.

“Unison is well-positioned to face the challenges of the future. Our climate is changing, our regions are changing, and our communities are changing. The electricity sector will be required to do much of the heavy lifting necessary to support our country’s transition to a cleaner, greener electric future, and Unison is ready to support that.”

Unison Group Chief Executive, Jaun Park, says “I could not be prouder of the Unison team’s performance, diligence, and dedication to our communities in the face of a challenging year.  

“Unison has strategically invested in adjacent specialist energy businesses in recent years, and as a Group, we look forward to further enhancing the resilience of our networks and leveraging our combined skills, solutions and expertise to support Aotearoa’s decarbonisation goals.

“As demand for these specialist energy services and solutions grows, I’m excited to see the potential of that investment realised in benefits for our business, sector, regions, and ultimately our shareholders, the consumers of Hawke’s Bay.”

To read Unison’s 2022/23 Annual Report visit www.unison.co.nz/annual-report

For more information, contact [email protected]

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