Generation Technician (Electrical) Level 8
Who do you work for?
I work for Hydro Tasmania, a company that prides itself on being known as Australia’s leading clean energy business. Hydro Tasmania is the largest water manager in Australia. Owned by the Tasmanian Government, it employs over 900 people and has assets worth around $5 billion.
We generate hydropower and wind power in Tasmania and trade electricity and energy-related environmental products (such as Renewable Energy Certificates) in the Australian market.
Hydro Tasmania also owns and operates a hybrid energy system on King Island and a diesel power station on Flinders Island. Both islands are located in Bass Strait. Our logo includes the statement The Power of Natural Thinking. This is to show that we work with Nature and look for smarter ways to do things.
What does your job involve?
As a generation technician I am employed to operate, maintain and improve Hydro Power-Generating plants, mainly in the Mersey-Forth generating area, which is located in North-West Tasmania. This involves day-to-day operations, maintenance, equipment upgrades and fault-response, as well as after-hours fault-response activities.
Why did you choose to work in the renewable energy industry?
Having always been destined to follow in my father’s footsteps, I was fortunate enough to gain an electrical apprenticeship as an electrical fitter in the former Hydro-Electric Commission (now Hydro Tasmania). I then went on to gain power station operational qualifications.
I have spent some time working in other areas as well, including seven years teaching at TAFE Tasmania in the electrical/ instrumentation department.
I enjoy the technical challenges involved in working for Hydro Tasmania, and even after 24 years, am still fascinated by hydroelectric turbines and other generation equipment.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the technical challenges that exist in the plant and enjoy some freedom to make improvements that result in better operational efficiencies. We have an excellent team and always strive to help each other out when and where necessary.
What has been one of your recent achievements?
It is difficult to pinpoint any particular achievement. However, in years gone by it was unheard of for operational staff to become involved in electrical protection systems design and testing. Thankfully, this has now changed and I have had ample opportunity to be involved in systems protection testing and modifications.
One of my ‘on the job’ achievements has been the re-design and implementation of the temperature protection and control equipment for Yeates Creek Pumping Station. At this station some ageing 1970s vintage equipment was removed and subsequently replaced with modern temperature-sensing equipment, which incorporates microprocessor-controlled monitoring and control equipment.
What do you hope to do in the future?
As I am approaching the ‘twilight’ of my career, my hope is to pass on some hard-earned knowledge and passion for the equipment, to the upcoming generation technicians who will eventually take my place.
What are some of the other benefits of your job?
My working conditions are second to none. My ‘office’ consists of thousands of square kilometres of the most picturesque scenery you could ever hope to see, with the cleanest air to breathe. Hydro Tasmania prides itself as a family-friendly employer and the job pays well.
What training did you have for this job?
Having left high school in Grade 10, I went on to gain qualifications in electrical fitting, before gaining post-trade endorsements industrial electronics, industrial instrumentation and programmable logic controllers.
I later undertook training in Hydro Tasmania’s Operator Training School to complete the Hydro Power Station EHV (Extra High Voltage) operator’s ticket.
During my TAFE years I completed a Diploma of Adult and Vocational Education (TAFE & Vocational) at the University of Tasmania and also gained a Diploma of Electrical Engineering. I went on the complete the Advanced Diploma of Engineering in the Electrical (Control) stream. I also hold a Diploma of Generation Operations and a Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment.
What is your advice to students?
I always hear the words of my own father and thoroughly believe this to be the case. When I started work he said, “Take every job you are given – say thanks very much – do it to the best of your ability and it will stand you in good stead for the coming years”. It is still good advice.
Ninety per cent or even more of what we achieve is through motivation; the rest is through our abilities. In other words, you will nearly always achieve what you purposefully set out to do if you set your mind to it. Never let anyone talk you out of being able to achieve what you want to achieve. Learn some theory but always reinforce this with the practical since, in my experience, the best engineers mostly come from practical backgrounds.