Finalist – Microsoft New Zealand Partner Awards

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Finalist - Microsoft New Zealand Partner Awards

Finalist - Microsoft New Zealand Partner Awards

Total Utilities is proud to have been nominated as a finalist in the 12th annual Microsoft New Zealand Partner Awards. These awards reveal the capability and influence that Microsoft Partners have in empowering customers to create real change and value. As a business we have been known for a number of years for vendor-independent business consulting which enables our customers to make informed and contestable decisions in relation to their migration to Cloud computing. Once the customer embarks on that journey it is crucially important to have the right governance in place to control costs and realise the value promised in the original business case. Total Utilities has developed analytics that ensure our clients gain the value from their cloud environments and provide insights to help save money. “Being finalists for the 2019 Microsoft Partner ‘Optimising Operations Award’ is a significant milestone for Total Utilities as it means we are now also gaining recognition for our independent, innovative and inexpensive Cloud FinOps service which provides that financial governance.” – Kelvin Sargeant

The price of power: monopoly management of the national grid benefits the few

The price of power: monopoly management of the national grid benefits the few

Our national grid pricing needs solutions. And after 10 years of pondering its navel, the Electricity Authority (EA), the Government agency charged with ensuring an efficient and effective electricity industry, plans to release a paper that may or may not gain industry consensus and may or may not actually be the right answer.  A decade in, the EA claims it is past the point where it is seeking an industry consensus, and advises that “you’ll have to show a factual error in our assumptions to change our views.”    This paper attempts to address the question, who pays how much for the right to access the electricity transmission backbone that is the national grid. Just how we derive economic efficiency by perpetuating monopolies, stifling innovation and transferring the costs of transmission to regional small businesses and consumers, is beyond me.   This backbone is owned and operated by a Government-owned monopoly called Transpower, and connects our generation assets to the whole country. The trouble with essential monopolies like the national grid is that they exert enormous political influence. Combine this influence with that of other essential monopolies such as the electricity generators who own our hydro dams, and massive energy consumers like the Bluff aluminium smelter, and the EA’s findings are wholly predictable.    This draft report, citing “economic value created”, suggests transmission costs be moved away from certain major users – notably the Bluff aluminium smelter – and should instead fall most heavily on domestic consumers and small businesses farthest from the point of generation. Meanwhile the hydro dam owners (the generators) will continue to utilise the transmission network without paying anything like the true cost of doing so.     When justifying their recommendations, the gurus at the Electricity Authority have estimated net economic benefits to all parties involved in the electricity market, of between $200 million and $6.4 billion by 2049.  There are clear signs of an agency that has lost track of the most basic financial disciplines, when they can seriously suggest that a business case benefit that has an estimated range of $6.2 billion over 30 long years is somehow rational rather than looking suspiciously like a complete guess.   Virtually all these barely-credible benefits are assumed to come via increases in market efficiency. Just how we derive economic efficiency by perpetuating monopolies, stifling innovation and transferring the costs of transmission to regional small businesses and consumers, is beyond me.   Disincentives to use the national grid The EA’s proposed pricing mechanism builds in disincentives for those seeking to find alternative methods of transmitting, storing and using electricity. The EA will do this in the following two ways: By offering special discounts to people considering using innovations such as battery and solar to avoid using the grid. These discounts will be funded by transferring these costs to other consumers (in other words, not by reducing Transpower’s profits); andBy reducing peak load pricing. This is the mechanism whereby we pay more for electricity transmission at times when the grid is most heavily used: think winter cold snaps and dinner time. Peak load pricing offers a price incentive to those who want to store and use their own electricity at a time when it is most expensive on the national grid. No peak load pricing, no incentive to innovate.    The national grid was bought and paid for over decades by all the taxpayers of New Zealand. This asset was designed to reliably transport one of our most essential services, electricity, and to share the costs evenly to the benefit of all.  Perhaps the Electricity Authority should be paying more attention to mechanisms and policies that have seen electricity prices soar over the past two decades, instead of continuing this futile, decade-long attempt to fix a transmission pricing problem that didn’t exist in the first place.

“Accelerated Electrification” Misses the Mark on Process Heat

Most of us now agree that climate change is all too real and we therefore all need to do something about it, sooner rather than later.However, some impulsive political changes in the past 18 months, like unilaterally banning all new offshore oil and gas exploration, can be environmentally counter-productive. For example, NZ coal usage in 2018 was the highest for a decade! Undoubtedly, this is a decision our political leaders didnt want to see happen.Wood biomass however is a great renewable resource and therefore represents an important and growing energy solution.At this time, NZ needs a genuine cross-party accord on the best way to tackle climate change, much like the superannuation accord back in the 1990’s. The superannuation accord worked well and served to de-politicise a potentially highly contentious area. A similar approach is needed now. Richard Gardiner - Managing Director of Total Utilities The policy advice preoccupation with electrification in process heat is not aligned with experts or industry trends, because in many cases it is simply not economically viable. In some high temperature hot water and steam production scenarios, wood energy (biomass) is about one quarter of the cost of electricity, yet the major recommendations for process heat from the ICCC report is “reducing regulatory barriers relating to electrification”.We are seeing New Zealand’s largest companies, and multinationals operating in New Zealand trending towards and investing in biomass projects, it seems the breaks need to be applied when it comes to accelerating the electrification of high temperature process heat. Jonathan McKeown - Bulk Wood Fuels Business Development and Marketing Manager, Azwood Energy The following was a recent press release from Azwood Energy. biomass Azwood Energy welcomes the Interim Climate Change Committee’s “Accelerated Electrification” report, which investigated the potential of electricity in greenhouse gas reduction.  Azwood Energy agrees with the Committee’s view: “The challenge is clear – it is not so much about reducing emissions from the generation of electricity in a narrow sense, but it is about using low or zero-emissions energy to fuel the economy.” https://www.bioenergy.org.nz/documents/resource/Information-Sheets/IS32-GHG-reduction-using-wood-energy.pdf

What does a risk-free cloud migration look like?

The below article was published recently in IT Brief New Zealand magazine. The -aaS consumption model is nothing new when it comes down to brass tacks - it's exactly how we've been consuming electricity ever since Edison and Tesla were squabbling. Over the last 130 or so years, electricity consumption has risen and with it, the cost. This is why Total Utilities stepped in to help businesses in New Zealand ensure that their power costs were being thoughtfully managed through analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. Now, the team at Total Utilities have brought their years of experience and the array of tools at their disposal to help enterprises transition to the cloud in the most cost-effective and outcome-focused way possible. Total Utilities strategy and transformation director David Spratt explained that as a company that specialises in the analysis of data, migration to the cloud is a no-brainer. “The intellectual battle over the cloud is done,” Spratt says. “if you haven’t heard about the multitude of advantages that public cloud can bring to any organisation, then you haven’t been listening. To be competitive from our corner of the world, you need to be using world-class technology and today, that means public cloud." Every day, more enterprises move onto the cloud. Every day, another startup is born there, ready to displace their predecessors. And every day, you have someone else tell you that if you don’t move now, you’re done for. Total Utilities is not interested in this kind of manic hyperbole. In fact, the team’s knowledge and expertise in the cloud was inspired not just by their love of the tech, but more importantly by their passion for saving money for their clients. “As a completely vendor-agnostic consultancy, we aren’t trying to convince anyone to spend more or upsell to products they don’t need,” Spratt explains. “If your company has brand new servers that are fully functional and ticking along happily, you probably aren't interested in migrating everything right now. We understand that and want to guide both IT specialists and C-level executives to make the right decisions about what should be moved, how it should be moved, and when to move it.” Total Utilities helps organisations bridge the communication gap between IT and the C-suite, speaking both languages, and suggesting clear, evidence-based options that are all about making life easy for the techies, and making money for the execs. This is not some upstart company aiming to build their experience - for the last five years, they have worked with New Zealand’s major kiwifruit exporter and agricultural giant Zespri, providing financial insights and ongoing evidence of the value that migrating to Azure has brought. “We said to Zespri, ‘Are you really in the business of owning and operating IT?’ And of course they’re not,” Spratt elaborates. “But certain key services they have to deliver. So how do you get out of the business of owning and operating tin boxes that go ping, and into the business of providing all the services that give a business strategic advantages?" Total Utilities performed assessments in every area to see what the cloud could offer. They looked at the obvious benefits like the ability to copy/paste their systems for deployment in any country, simplified disaster recovery and backup, and the ability to scale up or down based on crop yield. Scalability ended up being a key driver for Zespri as this transformation occurred at the same time as the much-publicised Psa disease that threatened to wipe out their gold kiwifruit stock. Zespri wasn’t sure if it would end up with shipping numbers dropping from 80 million to 40 million, or if a new strain of fruit would take successfully and end up yielding 140 million. Total Utilities showed them how being in the cloud would mean they were ready for any eventuality. But then they even dug deeper, looking at the cost per square metre of housing private servers, power costs, and the depreciation of hardware over time. Today, Zespri still sits on Azure and continues to work with Total Utilities to ensure that it is always in the best position to achieve its goals as one of New Zealand’s biggest organisations. Now, Total Utilities wants to help your organisation be as profitable and streamlined as it can possibly be - get in touch today to find out how.

New Branding and New Services

Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings. Drawing is the honesty of the art. Salvador Dali Today Total Utilities announces its new branding. Over the last 18 years we have worked hard to assist companies in controlling consumption and cost. It's an exciting day for us and we are proud to share this with you. From today you'll see a change in the way we look, including our new ribbon logo. The spherical shape represents the whole as we take a 360 degree approach to understanding our clients and their utility requirements, whether it be Energy, Waste and ICT or Insights, Strategy and Solutions. What doesn't change is our desire to create a sustainable future for New Zealand businesses and how they manage their utilities by continuing to deliver ongoing value for our clients. We continue to work hard to provide new services to assist our clients such as Energy Monitoring and Targeting through wireless non-intrusive energy senors, Cloud Computing Analytics for consumption of computer services and qualitative and quantitative reporting aligned to overall financial strategy. Total Utiltities About Us Presentation We remain committed to delivering a personalised service and assisting our clients navigate a rapidly evolving commercial market place by underpinning strategic thinking. I would like to thank our existing clients for your continued loyalty and confidence in our company. To prospective clients, I hope that you will partner with us to discover real world solutions for sustainable utility consumption and cost optimisation.

Articles

Just a moment: are you feeling okay?

Posted 17 October 2019 by David Spratt

This isn’t an easy article to write. I am over 60 years old and have had a wonderful, successful life full of variety, excitement, joy and challenges. Throughout, I have seen myself as a solid kind of person with an optimistic view of the world and a generally even temperament. Now I find myself admitting to the world that I am not bulletproof after all.   A few weeks ago, I was juggling some pretty big issues at work, at home and in the political realm. That’s not unusual in my world, and for many of us in business this is very...
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Searching for ecological nirvana in energy supplies

Posted 14 August 2019 by David Spratt

“A society grows great when people plant trees whose shade they know they will never lie in.” - Greek Proverb I spent the best part of Saturday planting trees, flaxes, and ferns along a stream bank with my son, Tom, and his best mate. The task was “wholesome” according to Tom, as the plantings should facilitate the recovery of a stream that was once badly polluted but now runs mostly clear following positive steps by my dairy farmer neighbor to abide by the Fonterra clean stream accords. As I patted my own back for my newly enhanced green credentials, I turned my...
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Sustainability now considered economic and environmental

Posted 7 August 2019 by Chris Hargreaves

New Zealand has set a target under the Paris Agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, and to adopt increasingly more ambitious targets in the future. Per capita, New Zealand's emissions are one of the highest in the world with an output of <1% of the total world's emissions. Business New Zealand recently released a report which concluded that "opportunities to improve our performance in productivity and renewable penetration lie in every part of the energy supply chain. While productivity and renewables are not necessarily mutually...
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Tech That Keeps The Planet Cool

Posted 31 July 2019 by David Spratt

I lit my first fire at home for the year on the unusual date of May 31, just one day before the official beginning of winter. I live in the sunny north side of Auckland, but I would have expected to see my dog sleeping in front of the fire by around late April. There are some of us who believe that to the detriment of future generations the planet is suffering from global warming and others who feel that the scientific consensus is still a long way from being agreed. Either way, I do believe there is a general accord that we can’t keep consuming the planet’s resources at the rate...
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Power Factor - Are you installing the right tools for the job?

Posted 16 July 2019 by Chris Hargreaves

In the electrical industry, Power Factor is widely known as a bit of a dark art. Over the last few years, advances in technology have brought new types of correction systems to the market along with a range of off the shelf cheap products that can be ordered online and promise the world but deliver little. The below paper was written by Allan Ramson (NZCE, BEng, MBT), General Manager of kVArCorrect Ltd and provides an insight into the pros an cons of active versus passive power factor correction for different applications. For a full copy of this paper please click here. History...
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Business at the Speed of Light - Podcast with David Spratt

Posted 20 May 2019 by David Spratt

Recently David recorded a podcast as part of Umbrellar's Key Technology Hub series. The podcast covers a wide range of topics including: The business reasons Cloud computing is now the norm rather than the exception The business impact of SaaS, PasS and IaaS services “doing business at the speed of light” The cost, consumption and spend issues around a variable cost IT model Changes to the way IT teams are structured in a cloud environment The critical role of partnerships in running and optimising cloud...
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Can New Zealand Electrify Industry?

Posted 20 May 2019 by Chris Hargreaves

The Government has set a target for New Zealand’s economy to be net-zero emissions by 2050. Does our current approach stack up? Methanex - adding 15% to national electricity demand? In a recent submission to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Methanex, New Zealand’s largest single gas user suggested that should the company transition from gas-based manufacturing of methanol to electricity, this would increase New Zealand's national electricity demand by around 15% (5,800 gigawatt-hours). In other words, there would be a Rio Tinto Aluminum Smelter-sized...
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