Trustpower was named Consumer NZ Energy Retailer of the Year at the Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards in Auckland last night.

The Tauranga-based retailer was recognised for its sharp commercial innovation and the extraordinary customer growth it has achieved in the past year.

Stellar Consulting has been providing Business Intelligence services to Trustpower for the past five years, and just three months ago, Stellar partner Travis Barker wrote about Trustpower’s superb performance in retaining customers.

Trustpower logo

Since mid-2014 the company has added almost 30,000 electricity and gas customers, largely thanks to its combined electricity, gas and telecommunications packages. It was the highest scorer of the ‘big-five’ retailers in the 2015 Consumer NZ survey, and was rated highest for its ability to solve customer problems.

“It was a great pleasure to be able to share in the awards evening with the Trustpower team and to see first-hand the respect and recognition they hold within the energy sector,” says Stellar consulting partner John McDermott. “Congratulations to the Trustpower team for a fantastic effort and a well-deserved win.”

Powershop and Energy Online were named finalists in the category, which was judged in conjunction with Consumer NZ for the first time this year. More than 8,000 members of the organisation participated in this year’s survey.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin says increasing customer choice, and the ease of switching supplier, have made retailers much more competitive and innovative. That was reflected in the finalists named last night.

“We’ve been surveying customer satisfaction of energy retailers for many years, and it was very important to us to be able to use the results of that surveying to assist in choosing who would be the Consumer NZ Energy Retailer of the Year,” she says.

“Our role as watchdog is incredibly important, but so is rewarding business and service providers who get it right for consumers.”

More than 640 guests attended the spectacular black-tie event at the Langham Hotel.

The Minister of Energy and Resources, Hon Simon Bridges, was the guest of honour and keynote speaker at the event. The minister congratulated all the winners and finalists.

“These awards set a benchmark for the sector to aspire to. Industry excellence is part and parcel of maintaining a competitive edge, both domestically and in the international arena.

“Enhancing performance across the sector will help us to build credibility in our broader NZ Inc brand so we can help businesses to open doors in global markets, including the promotion of our renewable expertise.”

Fuel retailer Chevron New Zealand won the Community Initiative of the Year award for the driving mentor scheme it runs with community groups, the New Zealand Transport Agency, the Automobile Association and Hyundai.

Mike Dunstall, general manager of geothermal resources and development at Contact Energy, was named Energy Executive of the Year for his leadership of the firm’s $1 billion Wairakei investment programme.

Industry veteran recognised

Former Meridian Energy chief executive Keith Turner was recognised for making an outstanding contribution to the energy sector.

Turner was Meridian’s first chief executive. In his nine years with the business, the company commissioned three wind farms in New Zealand, developed and sold the Southern Hydro business in Australia and completed the second tail-race at Manapouri.

But Energy News editor Gavin Evans says the award particularly recognises Turner’s contribution to the creation of the competitive electricity market during the 1980s and 1990s.

Turner was a member of one of the very first task forces that looked at the structural options for the industry in New Zealand. He served on the establishment boards for Transpower and Contact Energy and was a founder director of electricity market company M-Co.

But Evans says Turner’s biggest and longest lasting contributions probably came from his championing the use of early computer models for optimising generation and his success securing on-going access to Maui gas for the power sector during the 1990 contract renegotiations.

Last night’s awards were the sixth since 2010. Deloitte is the principal sponsor. The event is run by Freeman Media, publisher of online news and information service Energy News.

Chris O’Hara – General Manager Commercial Operations at Trustpower accepting the best energy retailer award

Chris O’Hara – General Manager Commercial Operations at Trustpower accepting the Energy Retailer of the Year award. Photo: Freeman Media

Left to Right: Graeme Purches, Wayne Ramshaw, Matthew James, Matthew van Deventer, Mistie Baldwin, Darryl McConnell, Carolyn Schofield, Sue Chetwin, Michael Carruthers, Paul Bacon, Simon Clarke, Fiona Smith, Jeremy Levy, Chris O’Hara, Tania Champion, Vince Hawksworth, Hon Simon Bridges

Left to Right: Graeme Purches, Wayne Ramshaw, Matthew James, Matthew van Deventer, Mistie Baldwin, Darryl McConnell, Carolyn Schofield, Sue Chetwin, Michael Carruthers, Paul Bacon, Simon Clarke, Fiona Smith, Jeremy Levy, Chris O’Hara, Tania Champion, Vince Hawksworth, Hon Simon Bridges. Photo: Freeman Media

Winners

Innovation in Energy Award – sponsored by Gentrack: Transpower – emsTradepoint

Energy Project of the Year – sponsored by ITL: Contact Energy – Wairakei investment programme

Health & Safety Initiative of the Year – sponsored by the Electricity Networks Association: Shell Todd Oil Services – Zero harm@Ruru

Environmental Initiative of the Year – sponsored by Transfield Worley Power Services: Powerco – Gas environmental programme

Editor’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Sector – sponsored by MB Century: Keith Turner

Young Energy Executive of the Year – sponsored by ABB: Kerry Williamson – Shell New Zealand

Energy Executive of the Year – sponsored by WorleyParsons: Mike Dunstall – Contact Energy

Large Energy User Initiative of the Year – sponsored by Element magazine: Norske Skog Tasman – Minimising energy costs at Tasman mill

Community Initiative of the Year – sponsored by PEPANZ: Chevron New Zealand – Community Mentor Driving Programme

Consumer NZ Energy Retailer of the Year: Trustpower

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