Jan 29, 2016

Q&A with David Taylor at Transfield Worley Power Services

Utilities
Australia
Asia
Tomas H. Lucero
7 min
Since its establishment in 2004 as a specialist provider of operations and asset services to the power generation sector in Australia,

Since its establishment in 2004 as a specialist provider of operations and asset services to the power generation sector in Australia, Transfield Worley Power Services (TWPS) has led the industry with innovation, expertise and skill.

Working for large-scale utility owners, project developers, institutional investors, private equity firms, mining and oil and gas owners that require power generation for remote facilities, TWPS continues to support the needs of clients such as AGL, Synergy, Genesis Energy, and BHP Billiton to deliver energy safely, efficiently, and cost effectively.

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In a recent interview, David Taylor, executive manager of strategy and development at TWPS, discussed the company’s expansion into New Zealand and Southeast Asia, the art of customer attraction and retention, and how one company continues to lead the provision of operations and asset services to the power generation sector.

Q: How has TWPS managed to remain a leading force and what separates it from the competition?

The two key things that make TWPS so different from everyone else are definitely safety and innovation. TWPS has a very strong track record, particularly in the improvement of safety outcomes over the last three years, and is now leading the power industry sector.

The second key factor is the innovation that is shown by everyone throughout the organization, and the ability to develop new solutions and approaches that either enhance safety, increase productivity or deliver cost savings to our clients.

Q: What is the relationship between TWPS and its parent companies Transfield Services and WorleyParsons?

TWPS is a fully-incorporated company with both of those companies each owning 50 per cent of the business. We have a board of directors comprising representatives from both WorleyParsons and Transfield Services, and an executive management team responsible for the management of the business

We -regularly engage with our shareholders—whether it be from a strategic perspective, a business development and marketing perspective, or from an operational execution perspective. Our ability to draw on the depth of expertise and resources of both of the shareholders as required enables us to mobilize to  sites quickly and access world class expertise in power generation.

WorleyParsons has worked on over 190,000 megawatts of power generation around the world, so we have access to that global expertise. With Transfield Services, we leverage their systems for delivery and resources in three countries around the world. 

When we do need support, it is great to have those two large companies standing behind us, and this also provides comfort for our clients

Q: How does TWPS ensure customer satisfaction and retention?

The major focus we have in terms of retaining our customers is ensuring that we successfully meet the safety,  performance and commercial outcomes that our customers have engaged us to deliver. Our business is structured around four key values: Commitment, Performance, Innovation and Collaboration. Based on these values, we ensure that we perform to the requirements of our contracts. We make sure that the safety of everyone is at the forefront of our minds and everything we do.

Our other key focus to ensure customer satisfaction and retention is on maintaining strong relationships with our clients, right from the top of the organization down to the site—then comes the innovation. The combination of all those four values really goes a long way to us retaining our contracts and our customers. 

Q: What led to the venture into Southeast Asia?

Southeast Asia is experiencing strong economic growth and demand for power, and therefore we see that there is a lot of potential to deploy our knowledge, systems, processes and expertise to assist clients in the management of new power generation assets, as well as enhancing the performance of existing assets which may not be achieving the levels of performance envisaged during design and commissioning. Southeast Asia is very much our growth engine. 

Q: How do you plan to enter this new market?

There are two components. The first will be assisting customers to improve the efficiency and output of existing power stations—really applying our expertise in how to improve the availability of power generation assets, how to improve the efficiency and output and fix problems or issues that they currently have. That will mobilize us to develop our presence and our brand name in Southeast Asia.

The next phase will be to deliver full operation management services to owners, and particularly financial and institutional investors, in power generation assets in the market. 

Q: You recently expanded into New Zealand last year—what is the 5-year agreement between TWPS and Genesis Energy?

Genesis Energy engaged TWPS to carry out routine maintenance and outages across their portfolio of thermal and hydro assets throughout New Zealand.

Q: How do both corporations benefit from this relationship?

For us, it was very much part of our growth strategy to establish ourselves outside of Australia. From our perspective, gaining such a major contract in New Zealand gives us a strong foothold and a strong presence that will enable us to grow over time.

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For Genesis, the real advantage was achieving cost savings for them from a much more streamlined contract than they had before. They had around 80 suppliers covering their maintenance before and now they've got one—us. The contract is also very flexible and allows for Genesis to change the generation profile and we respond to that in terms of our labour and maintenance profiling. We can bring a lot of expertise to the table in how to drive productivity efficiency and that was one of the major gains that Genesis Energy was looking for.

Q: Safety is a top priority in the power generation field—what initiatives do you have in place to offset risks?

We have a robust safety management system across our business. We place a large focus on hazard identification and reporting, which aims to eliminate any safety risks before they occur, and controlling the risk as much as possible. There are daily toolbox meetings that discuss any safety issues and every job has a JSA (Job Safety Analysis) prepared that identifies potential risks associated with a particular task being carried out.

Q: How does the leadership team recruit and maintain a solid workforce at TWPS?

We have a very loyal group of people that are passionate about power generation. Being one of the largest employers in the power generation sector in Australia also creates its own benefits in terms of attracting and retaining employees.

We also maintain databases of casual employees that we can call upon as required to meet peaks in demand such as during outage season. They understand our culture and how we do things so that when they come onto a site, they know how TWPS operates, which reduces risks and improves delivery outcomes

We also provide opportunities for people to progress throughout the company, which provides career paths for people resulting in higher retention rates.. On the innovation perspective, we run an internal program called “The Better Ways Program” where individuals are rewarded for coming up with innovative solutions for clients. It’s a monetary award as well as a recognition award.

Q: TWPS engages in a broad range of sectors—from coal to wind power—can you give me a breakdown of your work within these?

Coal fired power stations represent around 40 per cent of our business at this point in time, with gas around the same (40 per cent) and renewables is the remaining 20 per cent.

Globally, there’s a much larger push towards renewables and our business is certainly seeing more requests from customers to assist them with their renewable assets. We expect that over the long term that mix might change to an even share between the three, but it really comes down to a large number of market, regulatory, environmental and social factors. If there is a major shift away from coal fired power stations, which we don’t see in the short to medium term, then we will respond to that.

Q: What can consumers, competitors and industry insiders expect to see from TWPS in the next year or so?

We will definitely be establishing a local presence in Southeast Asia to engage with clients and start to build our business in that region. I expect that we will be putting people up there to solve some of the operational problems that the plants are having in the next year or so.

From a New Zealand perspective, we will continue to work closely with our key client, but we will also be looking to see how we can leverage some of the lessons that we've learned in the in the last 12 months and helping other customers outside Genesis Energy to improve their productivity.

In terms of services to our customers, our focus will continue on delivering safe and efficient operations and asset services, but we will also have a greater focus on how we can leverage our expertise asset management to optimize the performance of our customer’s power generation assets. 

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Jul 26, 2021

Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April

Ofwat
Utilities
water
prices
Dominic Ellis
3 min
Ofwat confirms levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue

Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.

The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.

Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.  

In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue. 

Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”  

There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:   

  1. Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps. 
  2. Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold. 
  3. Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice. 

Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.

Anita Dougall, CEO and Founding Partner at Sagacity, said Ofwat’s decision comes hot on the heels of Ofgem’s price cap rise in April.

"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.

"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."

United Utilities picks up pipeline award

A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.

The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.

“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.

Camus Energy secures $16m funding

Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent VenturesWave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.

As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.

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