Last day for EECA Chief Executive
EECA’s Chief Executive Mike Underhill retires today after nearly 10 years at the helm.
Mr Underhill, an engineer by profession, says he has thoroughly enjoyed leading a delivery agency that gets things done.
This includes the Warm Up New Zealand home insulation programme. Since 2009, almost 300,000 homes have been insulated directly with funding assistance from EECA, including 150,000 low-income households.
“The numbers are great, but it’s been even more satisfying to hear from families that are free from respiratory illnesses like asthma,” says Mr Underhill. “We’ve really changed the national psyche on how our homes should be.”
In the business sector, EECA has formed energy management partnerships with businesses that represent 40% of the energy use of all New Zealand businesses in just two years. In the last financial year, EECA Business programmes saved 0.6 PJ of energy – enough to fuel more than 300,000 cars driving from Auckland to Wellington – and 37,000 tonnes of carbon.
The link between energy efficiency, renewable energy and carbon reduction is clear, and is likely to become a greater focus for EECA in the future, says Mr Underhill.
“New Zealand’s climate change challenge is real and it’s urgent, but we shouldn’t feel helpless or overwhelmed. I have confidence for the future, knowing we can modify the way we use our energy and abundant renewable resources, particularly in the transport and industrial heat sectors, to provide a significant contribution to meeting our climate change obligations.”
Mr Underhill is delighted with the government’s new initiative to stimulate the introduction of electric vehicles.
He sees a real opportunity to align the views of government with players in the wider economy to contribute to our climate change obligations in a way that increases our productivity.
EECA’s new Chief Executive, James Hay, will start in mid-January.