Network Waitaki chief hails ‘fantastic result’

Network Waitaki chief executive Geoff Douch. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN
Network Waitaki chief executive Geoff Douch. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

A $4.6 million after-tax net profit for Network Waitaki, in a year of disruption and uncertainty, is a "fantastic result" for the company, chief executive Geoff Douch says.

The consumer trust-owned electricity lines company released its 2022 annual report this week, which revealed revenue for the year ended March 31 was $29.3 million, up from $29.1 million the previous year.

The net profit of $4.6 million was ahead of the $3.9 million target, and was achieved despite a very wet summer reducing irrigation demand for electricity, and the Covid-19 lockdown in August.

Like many other businesses, Network Waitaki had faced a year of uncertainty and a changing environment due to Covid, Mr Douch said.

More recently, it had felt the effects of global supply chain disruption and pressures due to cost inflation.

"Despite this we delivered a fantastic result and made great progress towards our strategic goals," he said.

The report noted the company’s capital investment of $13 million into its network, which increased the company’s total assets to $130.1 million. Plant and equipment was up from $10.8 million the previous year.

The highlight of Network Waitaki’s "solid programme" of works was the completion of a 17km subtransmission line linking the Maheno and Five Forks substations, Mr Douch said.

The company has also started planning for a new 220kV grid exit point in the lower Waitaki Valley, to address a long-standing transmission capacity constraint into the district.

A business case has been approved, and it is set to be commissioned in about 2027.

Network Waitaki’s contracting business continued to grow last year, securing more than $4 million of external projects in the wider Otago region.

Developing talent and capability remained a top priority, especially in the present tight labour market, Mr Douch said.

The company now has 11 trainee line mechanics, electricians and arborists in its contracting team.

Mr Douch acknowledged the company’s network performance over the year was "slightly unfavourable", not meeting the system average interruption duration (SAIDI) target, largely due to some high-impact faults on the network, many associated with adverse weather.

The company also faced scrutiny last year when Fire and Emergency NZ’s report into the Lake Ohau fire found an electrical short circuit on a Network Waitaki power pole was responsible for the 5000ha blaze that destroyed 48 homes.

In the report, Mr Douch and chairman Chris Dennison said Network Waitaki "strongly disagree with the conclusions that Fenz have made".

"As we said then, this fire had a devastating effect on the Lake Ohau community and surrounding areas.

"We owe it to the community who lost so much to get this right."


Geoff Douch
Geoff Douch

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