How often do you find a mother and son working together in the new renewable energy sector? Well, that’s what Marion and Ken Birt do – and it works for them.

Marion helps maintain the safety of AGL Hydro, which operates 12 hydroelectric power stations situated in north-eastern Victoria and New South Wales, while Ken is the service delivery lead for the renewables team at AGL.

Marion’s link with the world of hydro started with her dad – who was involved with Dartmouth Power Station, the first-ever hydro station in Victoria, back when it was government-owned.

That link – that interest and passion – has now been passed down to Ken.

‘This is one of the most beautiful parts of Australia,’ he said. ‘Probably why it’s called Mount Beauty.’

According to Ken, people often underestimate – or just don’t realise – the scope of hydro power, and what’s required to manage it.

‘The water in Dartmouth Dam is about seven Sydney Harbours,’ he said.

‘We’re doing so much work with drones now. They allow us to get access to remote places… to give us a closer look without building scaffolding.’

‘We have about 80 workers and engineers – and for bigger projects, we use local contractors.’

While the fundamentals of hydro generation haven’t changed, Ken said, the technology certainly has. He reckons his grandfather would be agog – and excited.

‘I’m third generation working at AGL Hydro,’ he said.

‘And I reckon Grandpa would be looking down and saying “drones and folks 400 km away opening pipes… what’s next?”