The Young Energy Professionals Network is aiming to grow its currently sparse membership in the South Island and could establish a Christchurch branch.
Co-chair Mark Todoroff says there is “not much” of a YEPN presence in the South Island at present.
But he notes the garden city’s heavy energy sector presence with Christchurch home to local power distributor Orion, the University of Canterbury’s electrical engineering school, and consulting firms.
“There’s definitely an opportunity to have a Christchurch branch,” Todoroff says.
Todoroff, a senior analyst at TESLA Forecasting Asia Pacific, recently became a YEPN co-chair alongside BECA senior power systems engineer Harsharan Singh. They replaced the outgoing Nicolas Vessiot, of Powerco, and Transpower market analyst Emily Calvert.
Membership of the network – now at around 330 – has grown significantly since it was founded in 2015 with the funding support of the BusinessNZ Energy Council.
Todoroff says the network’s membership remains “overwhelmingly” based in Wellington. But he notes growth in Auckland and New Plymouth where YEPN branches were established last year.
South Island expansion presents a future opportunity for YEPN but Todoroff says the first priority is to expand the network’s Auckland presence.
Todoroff says he would like to hold events in the country’s largest city every two months. He is confident YEPN membership can quickly grow to at least 400 on the back of greater involvement from Auckland’s young energy professionals.
Mercury will host the network’s first Auckland event this year. The company’s regulatory and government affairs manager Nick Wilson will give an overview of the 119 MW Turitea wind farm, which Mercury is set to build near Palmerston North.
YEPN will seek members’ views on how the network should develop during that May 30 event. That discussion may feature subjects of interest for future presentations, possible “speed mentoring” events or whether members want more peer networking opportunities.
Todoroff also urged members to contact the network directly to give their thoughts.
“If they have any ideas, email us immediately.”
YEPN’s next Wellington event – on May 29 – will feature a presentation by Robinson Bowmaker Paul principal Sue Paul on how growing amounts of solar and wind generation plus energy storage have affected the Philippines’ wholesale spot power market.
Conversation will follow on possible implications for New Zealand as this country looks to expand the presence of variable renewable generation.
Escaping the bubble
Todoroff says a major benefit from membership in the network – which he joined about two years ago – was the chance to learn how different parts of a “complex” sector fit together from others in the industry holding roles different from his own.
Many people within the sector work in highly specialised positions, he says, and it is easy to “get stuck in one’s own bubble”.
“You just don’t know what else is going on until you speak to someone that’s actually doing something differently.”
Both Todoroff and Singh highlighted the benefit of YEPN’s monthly mentoring programme – established last year.
Todoroff has met top professionals in the legal and wholesale market teams at generator-retailers and consultants through the programme’s monthly meet-ups. “You really learn about all different parts of the business,” he told Energy News.
Singh, a YEPN member for about a year, says his mentoring experience led him to encourage friends and colleagues to sign up and ultimately for him to seek the co-chair position.
“This is when I knew that I would like to further contribute to the network by joining the leadership team,” he says.
Todoroff says he and Singh, based in Auckland and Wellington respectively, will focus on specific events for their particular regions while also developing a wider national strategy.