September 22, 2022

PowerNet scoops EEA’s 2022 Workplace Safety and Engineering Excellence awards

  • Kathryn McCoy
  • 4 min read

Southern electricity distribution management company PowerNet is this year’s winner of the Electricity Engineers’ Association (EEA) Workplace Safety Award and the Engineering Excellence Award.

EEA President, Stephen Jay says, “The EEA each year supports a number of awards that recognise outstanding achievement within the electricity supply industry. The fact PowerNet has taken out two of our awards this year is a testament to their commitment to workplace health and safety and delivering engineering excellence.”
PowerNet Chief Executive, Jason Franklin says, “The awards are for Workplace Safety and Asset Management. Winning these categories is even more special, given these are the foundation requirements for the electricity distribution sector. This is external recognition that we are doing the core very well, and recognised as industry leading.”
EEA Workplace Health and Safety Award:
PowerNet’s innovative Critical Control Framework (CCF) is a powerful digital tool that connects people directly with operational processes using a mobile phone or tablet. Replacing three separate paper-based tools, the CCF is a significant step forward in achieving consistency in critical safety practices.
“Our innovative CCF is not only improving the management of critical risks, meaning more people are likely to go home unharmed, it is also leading the way in which we are bringing safety, consistency, and clarity to managing and making all decisions relating to everyday critical safety points in all our on-the-job operational work. This is crucial to our business success,” says Rangi Solomon, General Manager Health, Safety and Environment at PowerNet.
Before starting a job, field teams use the CCF to ensure the right controls are in place to manage critical safety risks. The impressive list of features provided by the CCF include links to field safety actions with legislative obligations and the EEA industry safety rules, an onsite audit trail for ‘as found and as left’ (beneficial when working with Councils); information detailing where project managers and leaders need to improve work-pack information relating to critical controls; verification of critical controls; improved reporting; and the ability to increase workers’ understanding and knowledge of effectively managing risks.
“Digital technology is transforming every aspect of our lives, providing endless opportunities for improvement including in the health and safety of employees and other persons working around electricity,” says Jay.
“We were very impressed with PowerNet’s commitment to providing a modern, more practical, and efficient way of ensuring the health and safety of their employees. As a result of their focus on critical risk controls along with other safety initiatives, PowerNet’s incident rate has dropped dramatically.
“This project was innovative, effective, and went beyond compliance. Its success is founded
on strong staff engagement. “
The EEA Workplace Safety Award is open to all ESI safety stakeholders to recognise excellence in health and safety including achievement or contribution to workplace safety by an organisation or individual.
EEA Engineering Excellence Award:
PowerNet’s 2020 installation of its first stand-alone microgrid is delivering safe, sustainable, reliable electricity and cost savings for their customers on the edge of the Fiordland National Park.
“Coastal erosion and other environmental factors were frequently disrupting power supply to the Rowallan area meaning the existing electricity line route was no longer sustainable,” explains Kavi Singh, General Manager of New Energy Development and Strategy at PowerNet.
“We designed a microgrid solution, comprising solar generation, battery storage, and a backup generator to produce a clean, renewable, primary source of electricity.”
The microgrid is a modular, flexible system design which allows for expansion that can be tailored to individual customer’s needs, meaning the system can increase capacity if more power is needed. This design also avoids the cost of overbuilding, allowing for growth and ensuring portability of the system and redeployment if a customer no longer requires
electricity supply. In addition to offering a comprehensive range of benefits to the customer, the microgrid design also minimises impacts to the natural environment.
“Exploring new energy solutions is key to the delivery of a net zero carbon energy future,” says Jay. “PowerNet’s innovative design is an excellent example of how electricity network operators can develop alternative ways of supplying power to customers.”
Over the next five years PowerNet intends to commission more microgrids, replacing traditional poles and lines with a more efficient and economical solution, making a significant step towards sustainable energy living for new customers considering building in locations far from the existing reaches of electricity networks.”
The EEA Engineering Excellent Award recognises recent projects or activities associated with the development of new infrastructure or the improvement of existing infrastructure for the generation, transmission, distribution, or utilisation of electricity within the New Zealand electricity supply industry.
PowerNet was presented with the awards at the EEA’s annual conference in Hamilton on Wednesday, 21 September 2022.