Rugby link in Pioneer Investment

Lynda van Kempen  Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Central Otago residents have a vested interest in how well the Highlanders perform this season.

The Highlanders' main sponsor this year is electricity retailer Pulse Energy and the majority shareholder in Pulse is Central Otago-based energy company Pioneer Energy.

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‘‘Pulse has 55,000 customers at the moment and we've secured a 51% stake in Pulse, with the remaining 49% owned by Buller Electricity,'' Pioneer chief executive Fraser Jonker said last week.

The investment was a ‘‘good positive step which puts us on the front foot,'' he said.

Pioneer used to be known as Pioneer Generation Ltd and was formed in 1999, after the electricity industry reforms, evolving from the generation assets of the former Otago Central Electric Power Board.

It started out with a focus on hydro-electricity generation stations in Otago and Southland and diversified into wind farms as well.

Pioneer has also bought an energy efficiency specialist business and now has renewable energy assets, heat plants and offices throughout the country.

Pioneer Energy is owned by the Central Lakes Trust and pays an annual dividend to the trust which helps the trust to provide grants for charitable projects and services in the community.

The more money Pioneer makes, the more money available for the trust to distribute.

Mr Jonker said Pioneer had tried setting up its own domestic electricity retail business but then deviated into providing a service to commercial and industrial consumers.

Buying the majority share of Pulse was an important step for Pioneer, which spent about $21.7 million on the deal.

‘‘I think this is a good thing for the community and they should be proud of what we've done. Half of any profit made by Pulse will come back to Pioneer. The Central Lakes Trust, and the projects it supports in the community, will benefit.

‘‘As well as that, we're supporting the mighty Highlanders.''

Pulse would continue to operate independently.

It employed 90 staff and had a head office in Auckland, he said.

The investment would have other spin-offs for Otago, in creating jobs in this region, Mr Jonker said

The original article may be viewed here.