Karen Frew

Asset management maturity manager, Powerco

Powerco says Karen Frew, the company’s assets management maturity manager, has a ‘rare’ ability to work across both technical and commercial parts of a lines business. And it is this expertise – gained from having worked in the electricity industry for the past 17 years - that has seen Karen successfully lead the company’s work over the past year assessing the need for a customised price path (CPP).

Karen has spent 10 years in various leadership roles at Powerco. Her earlier achievements include leading valuation integrity projects that saw Powerco’s 2004 ODV valuation corrected by almost 20 per cent.

In July 2011, she was chosen to set up a programme to decide whether Powerco was ready to submit a CPP application. And while the company has since decided not to proceed with an application until after the next regulatory price reset in 2015, it has now done the preparatory work and built its learnings into ‘business as usual’ thanks to Karen.

In approaching the project, Karen was required to understand the complex nature of the economic regulation of lines businesses, and the technical and commercial case for future investment that is required to be robust, reflect customers’ long-term requirements and provide for ongoing efficiencies.

She looked at best practice opportunities from Australia and the United Kingdom, and set about communicating with stakeholders - shareholders, executive management, and customers - about what they would need from the process. There was an earlier recognition that decisions would have to be transparent and `evidence-based’ as all of Powerco’s processes and practices would be open for review if it applied for a CPP.

Asset management tool

During the process Karen recognised there were issues with staff not being able to analyse asset data sitting in different systems - for example, not being able to demonstrate the link between the health and performance of assets and future investment priorities.

This led to the design of an asset management tool – part of the firm’s flexible data solution - that collates network and financial performance data with physical asset data into a single source. It now enables bespoke data querying.

Karen set about linking the meta-data relating to assets - such as replacement and residual value, historic expenditure, location, age, criticality, condition and importance - in a way that all staff could view and use to query information to support better decision-making.

A model was designed using four components: a geo-processing engine that takes raw data and groups assets based on commonalities; a modelling tool that provides for performance of business rules, calculation of derived values and production of an analytics database; network performance layers that match up asset performance and condition information with core data; and modelling capability that allows user input to set rules and parameters.

While the decision had already been taken to delay any CPP application until after the DPP price reset in 2015, the new tools Karen’s team created are already in everyday use.

Powerco’s 2013 asset management plan, recently submitted to the Commerce Commission and available on the Powerco website, was a significant rewrite compared with earlier years and incorporates much of that work.


The Young Energy Executive of the Year award is sponsored by ABB