The COVID-19 pandemic forced Genesis Energy to dust off the emergency management plan they had hoped they’d never have to use. As New Zealand’s biggest power company, hundreds of thousands of households, hospitals, and other critical services rely on Genesis for their electricity.
Classified as an essential service during lockdown, the risk that Genesis’ critical operations and maintenance staff might get sick and be unable to maintain and operate its power plants across the country was a prospect they had to address when the pandemic started to take hold in late March.
Genesis Power Schemes General Manager, Scott Westbury, said that the staff who manage their power plants are highly skilled engineers and operators who cannot easily be replaced if they were to get sick, and supporting their health and wellbeing is vital.
“We talked to Wilderness about supplying us motorhomes that we could park up at our power plants while we were on Level-4 high alert. If the virus became prevalent in the community, we could keep our staff safe on site, and ensure that the nation’s power supply was not interrupted.”
Wilderness Motorhomes co-owner Pip Managh said that with international borders closed, they had motorhomes available, especially for these kinds of non conventional use cases. Ten were delivered to Genesis’ Huntly power station, with another 9 on standby for use at Genesis’ hydro power stations across New Zealand.
“We were happy to provide motorhomes we had expected to rent to tourists to Genesis instead. If push came to shove, we understood that these staff were making a big personal sacrifice if they had to be sequestered to the power plant for extended periods,” said Managh.
“Genesis wanted to make sure the motorhomes were not only fully equipped with a kitchen and bathroom but also comfortable, and the high-end European motorhomes from Wilderness were a perfect fit for this use case.”
The motorhomes have now been returned to Wilderness’ Auckland base as the government has lowered COVID-19 lockdown levels. Westbury is thankful that Genesis had a good partner to help them plan for these unforeseen worst-case scenarios.
“We were also pleased to be able to work with Wilderness, who have themselves been affected by the pandemic. We also wanted to support local kiwi businesses - it’s been a great opportunity to find a win-win solution for both of us,” he said.
The team at Wilderness are now hopeful the experience has them considering taking a Wilderness motorhome on their next holiday, says Managh. “We’re looking forward to helping some of our friends at Genesis see New Zealand before the rest of the tourists come back.”