The Young Energy Professionals Network aims to have an autonomous chapter in Auckland by September as it looks to grow its membership in 2018.
The group has about 120 members. Most of these are based in Wellington but YEPN co-chair and Powerco gas asset strategy manager Nicolas Vessiot says the group wants to reach those outside of the capital city.
“We’ve got a big membership base here in Wellington. Some former members have moved away from Wellington so we’ve got a few people based in Auckland and we want to organise more events in the different centres.”
Auckland will be the test case for YEPN. It is a natural choice for the network to expand into because there are a number of industry players there, Vessiot says.
Auckland University also attracts quite a few future energy professionals, he notes.
YEPN was founded in February 2015 and is supported by the BusinessNZ Energy Council which has given the network a platform and some funding to organise events, Vessiot says.
The network exists to upskill members through knowledge-sharing and collaboration and to provide leadership development opportunities.
A three-year strategy through to 2020 sees the network holding more regular quarterly events, expanding its presence into Auckland and then looking to other regions such as Christchurch, Tauranga and New Plymouth.
Vessiot – pictured above alongside co-chair and Transpower market analyst Emily Calvert – says an online survey will soon be sent to members to validate that plan.
YEPN events in 2017 included a presentation by New Zealand’s three future energy leaders on their visit to the World Energy Council’s summit in Portugal. How last year’s dry winter affected the security of electricity supply was discussed at an earlier event.
YEPN has been invited to the Downstream conference in March. Vessiot says the network is organising a workshop similar to those it has held in previous years.
Members are supposed to be under 35 and have less than eight years’ experience in the energy industry – but this is not strictly enforced.
“We’ve got some people who would not match the definition of young.”
Belonging to YEPN is a great opportunity to better understand the “bigger picture” of the energy sector as a whole and discuss issues in a safe environment, Vessiot says.
“It’s good for people to expand their horizons.”
Members work across the sector within the distribution, generation and retail side. Policy analysts and university students are also members.
The network’s existing structure of two co-chairs, plus a group of volunteers who help give direction to YEPN and organise events will be reviewed this year.
Vessiot says the network wants to open nominations for offices to more people.
How the new Labour-led government pursues its agenda around the environment and energy will be of great interest to the sector this year, Vessiot says. YEPN looks forward to contributing to those policy discussions.
The new administration has set a target for New Zealand to deliver 100 per cent renewable electricity, in a normal hydrological year, by 2035 and wants the country to become a net zero-carbon economy by 2050.
Winter energy payments for beneficiaries and super-annuitants were announced at the end of last year and the terms of reference were released for a review of electricity pricing.
Vessiot says it will be interesting “to see where the new government will take us”.