Inaugural ENR SIG Event

About 35 people attended the first meeting sponsored by the ENR SIG in Wellington, on 21 March.  The venue was provided by Victoria University of Wellington, who now occupy a much refurbished Rutherford House, where many in the sector used to work in the old MoE/ECNZ days, so it seemed a fitting venue for a presentation on modelling a decentralised electricity sector. Many thanks to Vicky Mabin and Bob Cavana and the VUW team for making it happen.

We had a pleasing mix of old and new faces, ranging from senior policy advisers to active modellers from both energy companies and Government agencies, with 20-30 signing up for the ORSNZ ENR SIG newsfeed.  It was a great opportunity for networking, both pre-seminar over coffee/tea provided by VUW, and over nibbles/drinks paid for by and Robinson Bowmaker Paul (RBP) and EGR consulting, whose support is much appreciated.

Prof Michael Ferris focussed on the application of equilibrium modelling using PATH to analyse interactions between risk averse participants in an electricity system approaching a 100% renewable target and on managing upstream / downstream interactions in hydro systems.  The audience were thoroughly engaged, and the speaker responded brilliantly to their probing questions.  Clearly, there was still much more to be said, and discussed, at the end of the presentation, but several lines of discussion were picked up in smaller meetings with Michael the next day, and we expect some productive interactions to continue.  You can download his presentation slides here.

Steve Batstone and David Reeve, of Whiteboard Energy, then presented the first part of their video series on the history of innovation in the New Zealand electricity sector. It’s a high quality production, and well worth seeing (you can watch it online here).  Although not overtly about “OR”, the series indirectly raises two very important questions.  First, why has OR been so successful in this particular sector?  And second, what is the “optimal” organisational structure for an electricity sector as it passed through various development phases?  So thank you Whiteboard for your participation.  We are now looking forward to Episode 2, which will be about the impact of central govt initiatives on the sector.

E. Grant Read.