Our Environment

Through strong governance, Trustpower’s Environmental Policy sets our direction for going about activities in an environmentally responsible and legally compliant matter.

Trustpower is dedicated to minimising the impact of its operations on the environment.

We want to have a positive impact, not only on the environments in which we work, but also on the communities we share those environments with. Through strong governance, Trustpower’s Environmental Policy sets our direction for going about activities in an environmentally responsible and legally compliant matter.

Trustpower recognises the multiple uses of the water that passes through our stations and is stored in our lakes. We work actively with the other users of the waterways to ensure the optimal use of the resource while it delivers electricity for New Zealand – be it recreation, flood management or community events. This includes popular recreational fishing spots.

Some of our large hydro schemes are an important source of irrigation water for the surrounding agricultural community. Utilising storage lakes to hold water during a flood, and then for use by farmers during dry periods, offsets the need to construct alternative facilities. Constructing alternative storage facilities would be costly and potentially adverse to the environment.

Trustpower partners with community groups on initiatives that deliver environmental and social outcomes, offering financial, technical and physical support where possible. Trustpower has partnered with BRaid (Braided River Aid) in Canterbury, which aims to halt the decline in braided river bird species through projects such as pest trapping, weed clearance and education.

The Rangitaiki River Environmental Fund was established in 2015 as a result of the resource consent renewal for Trustpower’s Matahina power scheme in the Bay of Plenty. The fund, a partnership between Trustpower, the Rangitaiki Hapu Coalition, Te Runanga o Ngati Awa and Fonterra, has funded a number of local projects including improvements to local marae, wetland restoration, native flora planting and Edgecumbe town beautification. These are important commitments not only for the environmental benefits, but also for maintaining close and enduring relationships with our stakeholders.

Other partnerships include Trustpower’s support of the Bay of Plenty’s Ngamanawa Incorporation, and Ngati Hangarau hapu’s investigation of kiwi activity within their rohe.

Trustpower produces more than 99% of its electricity through hydroelectric power generation. We believe we are well placed to support the transition to a low emissions economy, and are closely following how climate change policy will soon be taken into greater account by all councils and consenting processes.

We have recently re-examined our operational activities to identify potential actions to minimise climate change and environmental impacts.

As acknowledged in the Chair and Chief Executive’s Report, the proposed mandatory climate-related financial disclosures for listed companies adds further impetus, and means Trustpower will identify, assess, take action, and disclose material climate-related financial risks to our stakeholders and investors in future.

Trustpower has looked closely at operations and processes to identify where we can reduce carbon emissions. Trustpower’s current carbon impact is primarily diesel for generation purposes and gas purchases from producers.

We have collected scope 1 and 2 data and have started to collect data for scope 3*.

Emission Sources by Scope

C02-e (tonnes)

Total scope 1


Total scope 2


* Direct Scope 1 emissions: these occur from sources that are owned or controlled by Trustpower;

Indirect Scope 2 emissions: Indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy (in the form of electricity, heat or steam) that the organisation uses and;

Indirect Scope 3 emissions: these are a recommended reporting category that accounts for all other indirect emissions which are a consequence of the activities of Trustpower, which occur from sources not owned or controlled by Trustpower.

We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint. We are currently working on setting short, medium and long-term carbon reduction targets that Trustpower will commit to. In addition, we will embed climate change response in our core business strategy, financial planning and risk management framework. We will prioritise adapting our generation assets to mitigate climate change impacts and build resilience. We will continually seek opportunities to grow our renewable generation investment.

Trustpower generation stations operate within the constraints of 429 resource consents authorising their operation and maintenance. These consents list a total of 3,520 conditions, of which 472 are actively managed for compliance. In the past year, 42 environmental incidents or near misses were investigated, resulting in 13 resource consent non-compliances and seven instances of non-compliance not covered by existing consents (classified as unauthorised activities that occur where a resource consent would be required to authorise the activity). Of all the incidents, 19 were classified as low impact and one as medium impact, based on a ranking system that considers the environmental, reputational and legal effects of an incident. Following an initial ‘triage’ process, all incidents that are considered to carry the potential for non-compliance are investigated more thoroughly. Our investigation procedure follows the People, Process, Equipment, Environment and Organisational (PEEPO) data collection process to ascertain the root cause of the incident. Once the root cause is established, actions to prevent a repeat of the incident are developed and assigned for implementation. All investigations for the reporting year have been closed out.

Scientific investigations regularly assess the effects of Trustpower’s hydroelectric power stations on stream biodiversity, riverbed erosion, fish passage and water quality.

We have continued to implement environmental management plans for all our activities in physical environments, in keeping with our continual improvement philosophy and guided by incident investigation recommendations on risk reduction and environmental improvement opportunities. Coupled with our Generation Project Management Framework, this ensures robust works planning through early engagement across our Generation teams, and has contributed to a reduction in environmental incident investigations.

In 2018, Trustpower revised the environmental induction and awareness training in its new learning management system, meaning all staff become competent in environmental management.

Trustpower actively participates in the shaping of government policy on resource management, including freshwater and indigenous biodiversity and reforms to the Resource Management Act. Water quality and native fish passage are current topics of discussion and new areas of research. While our operations don’t have a material impact on water quality, understanding the environment in which we operate ensures we are responding appropriately.


Native fish helped on their way

More than 2.6 million elvers, mostly shortfin eels, were transferred upstream of Trustpower’s Matahina Dam in the Bay of Plenty in the 2018-2019 season. Hundreds of kōkopu fish (banded, shortjaw and giant kōkopu) were also transferred.