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Eastland Group Appoints New Chief Operating Officer Energy

Gisborne-based regional infrastructure company Eastland Group has appointed a new Chief Operating Officer Energy as part of a significant restructure due to the company’s growth and the expansion of its geothermal energy portfolio.

Alice Pettigrew

Eastland Group operates Tairāwhiti’s port, electricity lines network and airport, along with three geothermal power plants in the Bay of Plenty and a hydro scheme near Wairoa.

Alice Pettigrew, formerly the company’s GM Business Development, was promoted into the newly created role. The position involves managing and growing the non-regulated electricity/energy sector, while working closely with the other members of the Senior Leadership Team.

Eastland Group Chief Executive Matt Todd said the restructure was an important part of the company’s growth plans.

“Eastland Group has grown rapidly in recent years, and now has over $835 million in total assets. It also has a strong pathway of future growth projects which, if executed, will soon see the balance sheet reach $1 billion.

“Alice’s role as COO Energy is part of refining the structure into two key business divisions: essential regional infrastructure and energy (non-regulated),” he said.

“It’s also consistent with the approach the company took in 2019 when it appointed Andrew Gaddum as COO responsible for regional assets in Tairāwhiti - a role that has recently been extended to also cover the local electricity distribution business, Eastland Network.

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“With considerable growth in the geothermal business, it became clear there was a need for more focus and leadership in the renewable energy sector.”

Ms Pettigrew started with Eastland Group, then called Eastland Infrastructure, back in 2007 and has been part of its expansion from 18 employees in 2003 to more than 150 today.

She has led a number of successful projects including the construction of the new Gisborne Airport terminal, along with securing $5m funding from the government’s then Provincial Growth Fund. She was instrumental in the creation of Electric Village, New Zealand’s first energy hub, which showcased emerging technologies and offered home energy efficiency advice.

More recently Alice worked with the Eastland Generation team on the TOPP1 acquisition - the purchase of a $83 million 25MW geothermal plant in Kawerau with geothermal resource consent for the next 35 years.

“The purchase of TOPP1 is key in enabling us to deliver on our strategy of >100 megawatts of renewable generation by 2025,” Ms Pettigrew said.

The company has also negotiated a project development agreement with landowners for the Taheke Project, at the Okere Falls site at the northern end of Lake Rotoiti. Ms Pettigrew led the work to secure crown funding for the exploratory drilling stage.

“We are hoping this geothermal resource will eventually fuel another power station of at least 25MW.”

The generation business already accounts for 32 percent of Eastland Group’s revenue and this is expected to go up to around 38 percent.

“A top priority is managing our existing energy businesses safely and efficiently,” Ms Pettigrew said.

“We are also working on renewable projects in Tairāwhiti, such as the airport Solar PV, waste to energy projects and other solar and wind opportunities.

“It’s an exciting challenge and I am pleased to be given the opportunity to make a significant contribution to Eastland Group’s further growth in the energy sector.”

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