POWER FROM THE PEOPLE, TO THE PEOPLE
There's something about renewable energy that really excites folks.
Richard Griffiths, strategic asset manager at Meridian knows this only too well. He caught a glimpse of his future on his rst visit to the Manapouri hydro power station, back when he was 10.
"My Dad decided we should go on a big road trip around the South Island," he says. "We did about six or seven weeks, camping. I remember it as one of the best holidays we ever had, but I was talking to my Mum the other day and she remembers it as a complete e nightmare!
"I remember going across the lake and into the access tunnel. It is extraordinary, going across in the boat. It's just amazing. It is a beautiful lake. There is a real sense of occasion, and because it is the only way in there is a real sense of mystery. Going down the long dark tunnel, it was damp and steep, and then it opens out into this enormous machine hall. There is a sense of awe and wonder.
"As a kid you just sort of take it all in your stride, but when I had the opportunity to work there I still had that same sense of amazement. It's now 11 years since I started doing work there and I still get that when I visit. To think that station is right down at the bottom of New Zealand, producing enormous amounts of energy without burning any fuel, just using water, that is something to behold."
Richard studied mechanical engineering at Canterbury University. He spent most of his twenties overseas, with some of that time working on mines in Africa and Australia before work with an engineering consultancy company brought him back to Manapouri, where he made enough of an impression to be taken on by Meridian.
After going from engineer, to now managing other engineers, he relishes his responsibility for maintaining power stations like Manapouri and his involvement in decisions on future major projects.
"My team and I are accountable for some of our country's iconic hydropower assets, and for protecting those assets for future generations," he says. "That's quite a privilege. By default these stations are extraordinarily environmentally friendly, and they are not short-term investments. These will be around for a century or more and there is no reason why they won't be as efficient and effective as they are today."