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Todd to take controlling stake in Sunergise NZ

Tuesday 28th May 2019

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Todd Corporation is to acquire a 75 percent stake in solar provider Sunergise New Zealand as part of a strategy to expand the range of its Nova Energy business.

The Todd Group has extensive natural gas interests, including stakes in the offshore Maui and Pohokura fields, and outright ownership of the onshore Kapuni and Mangahewa fields.

Its Nova retail arm offers power, gas and broadband and is the country’s sixth-largest power retailer by accounts. Its gas business is the fifth largest by accounts but is the biggest supplier to the industrial and commercial segments and the biggest gas retailer by volume overall.

Babu Bahirathan, Todd’s vice-president for downstream energy, said New Zealand’s energy landscape is changing and all companies are looking for ways to reduce their carbon emissions.

“As an energy supplier, adding commercial-scale solar is an obvious way for us to begin the transition from gas to renewables and help NZ’s leading companies meet their climate change commitments,” he said in an emailed statement.

“The partnership will also bring very real economic benefits to our Nova customers.”

The scale of the investment, through Todd Generation, wasn't disclosed. It will fund the expansion of the New Zealand business.

Todd’s move into solar is not the first by a major energy company. Mercury New Zealand acquired What Power Crisis in 2016 and Auckland-based distributor Vector bought Powersmart Solar the following year. Energy retailers Pulse and Ecotricity are listed as partners by SolarCity.

New Zealand has about 95 MW of solar, with homes and businesses adding about 20 MW in the past year. But only about 17 MW of the total to date is at commercial or industrial sites, according to Electricity Authority data

Sunergise is owned by Sunergise International, an Auckland-based business part-owned by the World Bank’s International Finance Corp.

Its website says the group has installed more than 13 MW of capacity in New Zealand and the Pacific, delivering more than 20 gigawatt-hours of electricity to date.

It lists a portfolio of commercial and government solar projects in Niue, Nauru, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Many of the Pacific projects have been funded as development projects by aid donors.

Sunergise says it will work in partnership with Nova to offer solar to that firm’s business customers and to the wider business community. It believes there is a lot of scope for commercial uptake of solar here, with the ideal customer having a usage profile that matches the sun's generation profile.

Sunergise chief executive Paul Makumbe said his firm helped pioneer a power purchase agreement model that lets commercial clients go solar without committing their own capital to the installation.

“We are currently providing solar for corporates as well as building utility-scale solar farms across the Pacific in partnership" with New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the International Finance Corp and Governments of Fiji and Tonga, he said.

“The time and economics are now right to bring the full-scale model to New Zealand. The Todd partnership and the synergies with Nova will give us the ability to more rapidly supply the New Zealand market with cost-effective renewable energy.”

(BusinessDesk)

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