About Empower Energy

Empower Energy is a Charitable Trust that aims to address energy affordability through peer-to-peer donations.

We began our journey at the Orion Energy Accelerator, where we won ‘Most Impactful Solution‘.

Since then we have been developing our platform, running a successful trial (that delivered more than $12,000 to Kiwis in energy hardship) and are now signing up ‘Early Empowerer‘ donors as part of our nationwide rollout plans.


Michael Fitzgerald

Co-Founder & Chief Empowerment Officer


Michael has 30 years of experience in customer service, administration and management gained at Air New Zealand, the New Zealand Army, the Maori Land Court and the Christchurch City Council. He is is graduate of the University of Canterbury, Lincoln University and Te Wananga O Aotearoa .

The Empower Energy concept came from his work assisting the Christchurch Mayors’ Welfare Fund, and wanting to find a sustainable system to mitigate energy hardship utilising unused roof-space and solar panels.

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Brian Stephens

Co-Founder & Chief Platform Energiser


Brian is an engineer and scientist who has been working in the manufacturing and energy sectors for 15 years, solving complex problems with practical, innovative, holistic solutions have been his focus.  

Brian is passionate about renewable energy, energy efficiency, and social justice.

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Paul Deavoll


Paul is currently Head of Customer and Communications for Orion NZ Ltd, Mid Canterbury’s
local electricity distribution business. Paul is responsible for Orion’s external relationships
including communications, stakeholder and customer relationships, internal engagement
and Orion’s sustainability strategy and actions.
Previously, Paul spent 20 years within Spark NZ, holding several senior roles including three
years as Head of South Island. With all these years of experience within the
telecommunications sector, Paul has a sound appreciation for the difference infrastructure
and technology can make for businesses of all sizes, and communities, especially in digital
experience. Having worked in rural communities across the South Island, Paul has first-hand
experience in the opportunities and challenges for those living and working regionally.
Paul has mentored in the business start-up community and is highly experienced engaging
with local and central government.
As an experienced people leader, Paul has a broad range of business capabilities that extend
across human capital, change management and culture, commercial, customer
management, technical leadership, sustainability, sales, marketing, channel development,
communications and engagement.
As an active supporter of the redevelopment of a vibrant new Christchurch, Paul has been
involved in several reference groups associated with City redevelopment. He is well
networked across Canterbury.
Paul has a strong engagement with his local community and currently is President for the
Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce Board and trustee on the Christchurch
Foundation. Previously Paul was Chairman on the Ronald McDonald House SI Trust Board
and had three years on the NZ Technology Industry Association Board.

Advisory Board

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Ian Fitzgerald

Experienced Director


Ian is an experienced company director and adviser. Ian is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Directors and holds a number of Governance roles across a range of organisations including the World of Wearable Arts, Niue Development Bank and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Trade Audit & Risk Committee.

As an adviser, Ian specialises in resolving complex organisational problems and supporting major negotiations.

Ian has held senior roles in the public and private sectors with management experience in a wide range of areas including change management, financial management, banking, human resources, information technology, operational risk, legal, internal audit and public relations.

Pam Walklin

Ara Ake LinkedIn

Pam has a depth of strategic, commercial, business development and transformation experience and she has extensive stakeholder engagement and relationship building in the energy sector. Prior to joining Ara Ake as the Head of Commercialisation, Pam led the Horticulture Technology Catalyst Project at Callaghan Innovation, a High Impact Project within the AgriTech Industry Transformation Plan, tasked with positioning NZ as a global leader in horticulture technology. Prior to this role Pam successfully completed the establishment of Ara Ake in her role with Venture Taranaki. Pam’s energy leadership experience spans electricity distribution, MEP services, retail, generation, upstream and downstream energy services.

Pam is impact led and sees innovation and the power of connectivity and relationships, both within Aotearoa and globally, as a key enabler to supporting our energy transition to a low emissions future.

As Aotearoa New Zealand’s future energy centre, Ara Ake works with businesses – from start-ups to large organisations – to facilitate and support demonstration projects of new and emerging technologies. They help innovators access financial and technical support to develop their technologies, bring in offshore technology and expertise and help unravel regulatory and commercial barriers.

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Sheralee MacDonald


Sheralee is passionate about supporting innovators, entrepreneurs and commercialising technology that contributes to a lower emission future. Her career has spanned commercial roles at various energy related organisations in NZ and Canada including EECA, Windflow Technology and ElectricAir (NZ’s first electric plane) and commercialisation of innovative wool products at Wool Source. 

Post the Christchurch earthquake she was a business growth advisor and commercialisation specialist at ChristchurchNZ across various sectors and a mentor in the innovation ecosystem.

With a current focus on supporting an equitable energy transition, she recently started in the Energy Futures team at Orion Group and is also on the Board of Generation Zero, a youth-led climate action organisation, and an Advisory Board member for Empower Energy.

Charity Details

Empower Energy Charitable Trust is a registered charity under the Charities Act 2005, registration number CC59516.
Empower Energy has Donee Status from IRD, meaning donations of $5 or more may qualify for a tax credit.
Empower Energy Charitable Trust IRD number is: 134-995-701.

Key Documents

Our pitch deck is available for download for people interested in working with us to help address Energy Hardship.

Is your business looking to be more sustainable and socially responsible?  

Download our Solar Donor letter to start the discussion in your organisation about installing solar to save on powerbills, reduce emissions, and donate your solar export credit towards people in energy hardship.

Do your employees and customers expect you to invest in socially responsible initiatives?

Download our Cash Donations letter to start the discussion in your organisation about corporate donations that will go directly towards lowering power bills for people in energy hardship.

Do you have, or are you planning to setup community energy projects, but are unsure about how to share or distribute the energy to your community?

Download our Community Energy letter to start the discussion about how using a ‘white label’ version of Empower Energy’s distribution platform can seamlessly allow you to distribute the credits earned from a generation resource, directly to the powerbills of the community members – regardless of which energy retailer they are with!