Let’s build a low-carbon future together

James Kilty | Director Simply Energy and Deputy Chief Executive, Contact Energy | March 2021

We’ve thought deeply about what our vision of building ‘a better New Zealand’ means to us at Contact, and how we can ‘make a positive difference to the lives and prosperity of New Zealanders’. Not just now, but into the future.

We believe in putting our energy where it matters. And one place where it really matters is the addressing the challenge of climate change. As one of New Zealand’s largest generators, we feel a responsibility to create a future where energy is cleaner and more sustainable. And it is why we are putting our energy into leading the energy sector to a low carbon future.

At its heart, climate change is a people issue. It is people who are suffering and will continue to suffer the consequences of forest fires, floods and droughts exacerbated by climate change. And it won’t stop unless we change.

At its most basic, our strategy is about getting people to reduce their total energy consumption by becoming more efficient and switching the energy they do use to low carbon electricity. Then, building more low carbon electricity supply to support that. We are in such a privileged position in New Zealand with our highly renewable electricity system which gives us the opportunity to build a better New Zealand.

Contact's Wairakei Geothermal Power Station
Contact’s Wairakei Geothermal Power Station

Delivering on our strategy, requires action on all fronts, starting with us doing all we can to reduce emissions in our own operations.

Our generation is now 83% renewable. We’ve reduced our carbon emissions by 51% since 2012. We’re a world leader in geothermal development and the first energy company in New Zealand to set science-based climate targets. We also set up an innovative green borrowing programme that was the first of its kind in New Zealand, to create an opportunity for lenders and investors to invest in certified Green Debt Instruments that recognises the value of our low carbon renewable generation assets. We are actively working with industry to advocate for the settings that enable New Zealand to reduce carbon and preparing options that support New Zealand as we rely less on fossil fuels. We have strong foundations through existing options, and we’re developing more.

We are also doing all we can to support our commercial and industrial customers to build a lower carbon, more sustainable, and more prosperous New Zealand.

Underpinning our plans is innovation. It’s the enabler. We are constantly looking for new and smarter ways of doing things and bringing these to our industry and our customers to accelerate decarbonisation. Our recent investment in Simply Energy, our investment in Dryland Carbon and our Demand Flexibility Programme that enables customers to power down or switch off load to give the grid a helping hand all support this. Other examples include working with Open Country Dairy to install an electric boiler and providing geothermal energy to Nature’s Flame to make their wood pellets. This is helping them increase capacity, enter into long-term export agreements and supply Fonterra with wood pellets when they convert their boiler at Te Awamutu from coal later this year.

We’ve found many organisations are wanting to make changes, but are struggling with where to start, how to get momentum and generate the required interest, both internally and externally.

That’s why we developed #changematters. It’s an initiative where we work with our customers, using our resources and know-how, to help us all lower carbon emissions, reduce business costs, develop reputation, reinforce credibility, drive innovation, increase competitiveness, and act responsibly towards our shareholders.

Our goal is to help our customers achieve all of this, while doing something that will ultimately benefit the whole planet.

We will continue to look for ways to build a better, more resilient New Zealand. One we are proud to leave to our children. None of it is easy but it is meaningful and in our global context, it is undeniably putting our energy where it matters.

We hope you will join us on our journey and let us support you to accelerate yours.