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Don Brash to join Transpower board

Former National Party leader and ex Reserve Bank governor has been named as a director of electricity grid operator Transpower.

Dr Brash's appointment was included in a number of new changes, announced today by State Owned Enterprises Minister Simon Power.

Transpower is under pressure to upgrade energy capacity to meet a rising demand for power, but that didn't prevented the grid operator from posting a 27% rise in profit in the first half of this financial year.

The owner of the national electricity grid saw its transmission revenue rise from $289.7 million to $310.7 million for the last six months of 2008.

The larger revenue take saw Transpower’s operating surplus after tax for the half year rise to $67.5 million, compared to $53.3 million the previous year.

Operating revenue for the six months of the year rose 7% per cent to $338.4 million.

The fragilities of Transpower’s supply were exposed last month, when a fault at the Penrose substation caused a power outage that affected 74,000 businesses and homes in the eastern suburbs of Auckland for several days.

Shortly after the power failures, it announced it was bringing forward $50 million of maintenance work on the national grid to April, although the work would not include upgrading the Penrose substation that caused the blackouts.

But the benefits of the major upgrade projects, which the company says are important to the security of the overall power system, are not expected to become obvious for several years.

The $2 billion projects now in various stages of development or construction, are part of an overall $3.8 billion investment planned for the next five years.