Bob Thomson, a Vector director for the past eight years, has spent 50 years in the electricity industry, including almost 16 years running Transpower, both within ECNZ and after its establishment as a separate SOE in 1994.
In 1987 he was appointed to a taskforce charged with developing a commercial structure for the former NZED, and then became ECNZ’s head of transmission. He would go onto serve on the Wholesale Electricity Market Development Group and was also a director of market operator EMCO for four years from 1994.
After his retirement from Transpower in 2003, Thomson became an advisor to the Electricity Trusts of New Zealand. Energy News Editor Gavin Evans says Thomson’s biggest contributions to the sector were probably in that first decade with Transpower, which included construction of Pole 2 of the HVDC link and much of the earliest and most challenging market reforms. Pole 2 – a $568 million development – was one of the country’s largest ever capital projects at the time. The work was completed in 1991, involved the laying of three new cables in Cook Strait, reconfiguring the existing mercury arc valve converters and adding new thyristor valve converters at Benmore and Haywards.
Thomson joined the New Zealand Electricity Department in 1963, and his early career included work on the construction of the Otahuhu A gas turbines and the gas-fired New Plymouth power station, commissioned in 1974. He held a series of regional operations and management roles before he was named to run Transpower in 1988.
Evans says Thomson married the best traditions of the former ‘public service’ electricity supply ethic with the commercial drivers necessary for improving efficiency within the industry.
The Editor's Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Sector is sponsored by MB Century.