Enduring Service Award 2020: EA Networks celebrates 25 years

By Cooperative Business New Zealand | November 2020
Electricity network company EA Networks was recognised with the Enduring Service Award at the Cooperative Business New Zealand Awards 2020 that were held in Christchurch this evening.

EA Networks Network Manager Brendon Quinn accepts the Enduring Service Award from SBS Bank Group Chief Executive Shaun Drylie.

Electricity network company EA Networks was recognised with the Enduring Service Award at the Cooperative Business New Zealand Awards 2020 that was held in Christchurch this evening.

The mid-Canterbury-based co-operative was presented with the award to celebrate 25 years in business.

The award was presented to Brendon Quinn, Network Manager from EA Networks, by SBS Bank Group Chief Executive Shaun Drylie, who accepted the same award last year when SBS Bank was celebrating 150 years.

EA Networks owns and operates the region’s electricity distribution network and advanced fibre optic communications network between the Rakaia and Rangitata rivers and the foothills of the Southern Alps in the West.

EA Networks started life as the Ashburton Electric Power Board. Established in 1921 and based in Ashburton, it took over the operation of generators from a private company and began implementing an option for connecting to the national grid. As society grew and electricity technology developed over the decades, the services offered by the Ashburton Electric Power Board became ever more essential to the well-being of the district it served. 

In 1995 the Ashburton Electric Power Board was transformed into the co-operatively owned company EA Networks.

In the last twenty years, in response to irrigation demand, EA Networks has grown its connected capacity at 9% compound per annum. It now has more than $300M of assets and is one of the most modern electricity distribution businesses in the country. It is designed and maintained by a highly skilled workforce of some 120 people who are passionate in their commitment to ensuring the long-term well-being of the 20,000 network-connected shareholding customers they serve at the same time as maintaining EA Networks’ industry-leading pricing.

In any discussion of the success of EA Networks, the contribution of Gordon Guthrie has to be acknowledged. In early 2020, Gordon retired from EA Networks after serving 20 years in the CEO position and more than 40 years with the company in total. His era was one of growth and his legacy was one of success in enabling that growth.  

As EA Networks celebrates its 25 years as a co-operative in 2020 and looks to celebrate ‘100 years’ in 2021, its focus is on continuing to deliver outstanding value to its community. It is an essential lifeline service making long-term and large-scale infrastructure investments in the community it serves. By building on its co-operative advantages, EA Networks will continue to empower the local community and deliver significant benefits to the Ashburton district.

Cooperative Business New Zealand Chief Executive Roz Henry says the Enduring Service Award is presented annually to co-operative businesses that are celebrating milestones.

“The co-operative business model is highly enduring, so celebrating and recognising their success and longevity is important.

“EA Networks is unique in that is it the only co-operative among New Zealand’s 27 electricity distribution businesses.

“As well as developing a modern electricity network, EA Networks has provided multiple further benefits to its community over the years including supplying fibre optic connections, undergrounding power lines on state highways, and cornerstone investment in an industry-transforming start-up irrigation scheme,” Roz says.

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