MainPower CEO stepping down

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By ROBYN BRISTOW

MainPower chief executive Bruce Emson, who has been in the job less than three years, is stepping down from the role with the North Canterbury electricity lines company.

Mr Emson is departing later this year to pursue “new opportunities”.

Previous to MainPower he was EQC’s customer services general manager for more than two years, moving to become business development manager of Christchurch company Corbel Construction prior to being appointed to MainPower.

His decision comes as the North Canterbury News continues to receive emails and phone calls from people concerned about redundancies at MainPower, the closing of its garage, leasing its vehicle fleet and MainPower workers working outside the North Canterbury lines company’s area for other companies.

One person who contacted the NC News earlier this year, and who wishes to remain anonymous, believes the company was being positioned for sale while others questioned the work force’s ability to effectively deal with an adverse event if crews were not working within the distribution area when it hit.

But Mr Emson rejected it was being prepared for “sale” in a front page article in the NC News on June 1, saying instead MainPower was positioning itself to meet the “challenges of the future”.

He said at the time he had the support of the MainPower board and the MainPower Trust which owns the business on behalf of the community and electricity distribution company – which supplies electricity to the North Canterbury and Kaikoura regions – to re-position its business to meet a challenging and changing electricity environment.

“The industry is experiencing enormous change, change it has not experienced for 50 years,” he told the North Canterbury News.

A concerned shareholder in the MainPower Trust said at the time shareholders needed to know there was an “unbelievable amount of asset stripping going on in Mainpower.

“The redundancies since Christmas and over the next few weeks in particular are of concern.”

Mr Emson said on June 1 there had been five redundancies.

“In positioning the business for the future, I announced to staff a few weeks ago a re-organisation of the administration. The net affect was the loss of three jobs,” he said.

There had been one redundancy in the garage which was closed and one other.

However, he admitted this number did not include people who took redundancy after declining to apply for positions within the company that were offered to them when their position was up for review.

The North Canterbury News understands there were around 19 redundancies at that time with several of those long term MainPower employees who were unhappy with the positions and remuneration offered.

Incoming MainPower Board chair Tony King, who replaced retired chair Gill Cox in July this year, has acknowledged Mr Emson’s commitment to the role, during a period of significant change for the business.

“Bruce has contributed to the foundation of a new strategic direction for the business, in response to the changes and challenges emerging from the transformation of the electricity sector in New Zealand.

“He has been a strong advocate for creating a customer centric business with a focus on innovation and improvements in health and safety,” said Mr King.

“The change led by Bruce will be built-on under a new chief executive, with the Board fully committed to ensuring the company’s long term financial sustainability,” said Mr King.

Mr Emson will remain with the business until November this year, during which time the Board will start the search for a successor.

Mr Emson says a lot had happened since he joined MainPower.

“The past 12 months have been very much focused on the development of a strategic plan for the business and ensuring we have the right structure and people to deliver on the strategy.

“Alongside my leadership team, we have been working to meet changing customer expectations and deliver a business for the future,” says Mr Emson.

Mr Emson joined MainPower in January 2015, he is on the Board of the Electricity Networks Association, as well as MainPower subsidiaries Hurunui Water Project and VirCom Energy Management Services.

He will leave in November.