Over recent years, SIEA has been receiving technical assistance from overseas utility companies.
This year was no different with many international consultants supporting SIEA with trainings to build staff capacity and assist with planning studies to improve the service delivery of the country’s power provider.
On the morning of Monday, May 5, everyone was surprised to see that the international consultant who was here to carry out training on Protection Relays with the Distribution team was none other than Simon Atomalefo.
Simon hails from North Malaita, but has been living and working in New Zealand for the last fourteen years. Protection Relay equipment help in isolating and keeping track on the occurrences on faults in the network as well as with the generators at Power Stations.
Mr. Atomalefo currently works with North Power, a New Zealand power company specializing in building and maintaining electricity networks. “My job is to test new equipment and commission them.”
He said with a smile. Simon has come a long way from his humble beginnings as a student from Adaua Provincial Secondary school, to the then Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE) to take up Electrical Studies.
After completing his studies, he spent a year working for SIEA. In 2000, he left the country to undertake a diploma in Electrical Engineering at the Manukau Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
After completing his studies in 2003, he remained and worked with ALSTOM Manufacturing, which later became Trans field Services, an operations, maintenance and construction services business in New Zealand. In 2010, he left Trans field Services and Joined North Power.
SIEA has had a long standing relationship with North Power, as they have done a lot of work that have greatly aided the operations of SIEA. North Power is currently contracted to install new switchgears at the Honiara Power Station. Since the purchase of the Relay Testing equipment, Simon was brought in to train SIEA engineers on its use and “show them the ropes”.
Mr. Atomalefo, was all too happy to give something back to his country, and has been carrying out the training with SIEA engineers for the last two weeks. At the closing of the training program, he stressed that although practices such as Relay Test Protection is relatively new to SIEA, he is happy to see that SIEA is moving in the right direction in improving the network performance to reduce fault and provide a reliable service to its customers.
“I am very happy to come back and help SIEA, to share my knowledge and experience and to the men that I have trained, I hope that they learnt as much as possible and they are able to apply the knowledge that I have imparted to them.” Mr. Atomalefo said.
SIEA Engineers acknowledged the fact that Mr. Atomalefo was indeed very helpful and they were happy with the new skills that they have acquired and will put it into practice.
Mr. Atomalefo will go back to Auckland, but he has left a lasting impression at SIEA. He was a local and a former employee of SIEA, who left the country to pursue further studies and a career in New Zealand. He was able to come back to SIEA, even if it was just for a short while, to train staff and pass on what he has learnt.
Mr. Atomalefo has indeed given back to the community what he has gained from his chosen career in Electrical Engineering and we will be able to see the fruits of this labor when faults are quickly detected and addressed.