Mike Fox, Mighty River Power’s generation infrastructure manager, has shown the technical capability and leadership skills to successfully manage a complex, large-scale refurbishment of the company’s core Waikato River hydro assets. The work will span more than a decade and will deliver long-term benefits.
The Waikato hydro system is the backbone of Mighty River Power’s generation portfolio and provides about 60 per cent of its annual generation. Mike was chosen to be the man to ‘lift the bonnet’ on the nine hydro plants and each of their 39 discrete generation units.
Each station has a different hydraulic capacity, was built at a different time, by different suppliers – and demands a unique solution to raise its peaking capacity, efficiency and reliability. They operate according to their differing hydrology and require their own unique maintenance plan.
Two large projects – at Ohakuri and Arapuni – have been carried out to-date, with the work at Ohakuri completed and that at Arapuni close to commissioning.
Under Mike’s guidance, results to-date include increased efficiency in generation, higher output and improved reliability.
At Ohakuri, the company has installed four new turbines that lifted efficiency to 96 per cent – from 89 per cent – and increased annual production by 28 GWh. At Arapuni, stator and rotor poles in four generators are being replaced, significantly extending the life of each unit and increasing each machine’s capacity by 1.3 MW.
In addition to physical asset maintenance, Mike has been hands-on in all stages of the control systems upgrade project, which saw control and instrumentation equipment from the 1990s replaced. This effort has allowed for extra functionality over the existing control system and greater integration with the company’s IT system.
Mike leads a team of 80 people in five locations, and has shown skill in streamlining a team structure across a wide business unit, reorganizing his team into four units: asset management, engineering, project delivery and business.
The Young Energy Executive of the Year award is sponsored by ABB