Dr. Keith Turner - 2016 Meritorious Award Recipient

This award recognises an outstanding contribution to the field of power engineering by an industry leader who has demonstrated visionary change that has brought significant benefit to our electricity supply industry and to New Zealand.

Over the 89 year history of the EEA there have been only 16 recipients.

Keith will be well known to many of you. He has 39 years of Executive experience in the power industry, and for the latter 25 years, held senior executive positions in Meridian Energy (as CEO), the former Electricity Corporation of New Zealand (as COO), and its predecessor NZED. Since 2008 he has been a Professional Director on major NZ and Australian boards.

Keith has participated extensively in the major reform initiatives that have reshaped New Zealand's electricity system into a market driven industry including:

  • The "Electricity Taskforce" which reported in 1989 and laid out the blueprint for the New Zealand electricity industry reforms;
  • The TransPower Establishment Board which undertook the separation and valuation of the New Zealand high voltage transmission company TransPower in 1992;
  • Founding Director of the Electricity Market Company, EMCO, set up in 1993 to establish the New Zealand Electricity Market;
  • Member of the Electricity Market Rules Committee during 1995;
  • Member of the Development Group set up in 1995 to split ECNZ's generation and form Contact Energy;
  • Member of the Market Surveillance Committee for the New Zealand Electricity Market; 1996 - 1998
  • Independent industry advisor to NZ Government during 1997 on the further split of ECNZ into three more generation companies;
  • Advisor to New South Wales (Australia) Treasury on industry reform and corporatisation;
  • Ministerial appointee to Auckland Power Failure Inquiry; in 1998
  • Project Manager for establishment of 2300 MW South Island Hydro power company.

Over the period 1988-2008, his roles have involved extensive Government liaison over many electricity industry and wider national economic matters as advisor and policy contributor.

As CEO for 9 years of Meridian Energy, NZ's largest generator, (Meridian owned and operated 9 hydro stations totalling 2300MW and permitted and commissioned 4 wind farms, 1 in Australia, totaling 378MW) he delivered strong commercial success. The enterprise value of Meridian was $2.04B at start-up and $6.7B at departure, having paid out over $2B in dividends and delivered profits in excess of $800M p.a. (following the sale of Southern Hydro).

His planning and development roles have given him a deep insight to the sectoral drivers of growth and competitive advantage in economies. He has extensive experience of working with the major economic and environmental policy departments of government, (eg Treasury, MED, Reserve Bank, DPMC, DoC, MfE, Labour, Transport).

During 1989 - 2008 he had unparalleled engagement with politicians and the inner workings of the political process, winning the confidence of Ministers from all political persuasions. This was evidenced by the representation and appointment roles he was granted and through the freedoms granted Meridian as an SoE (ahead of his sister SoE's)

Since stepping down from Meridian, in 2008, he has become a Professional Director and undertakes selected consulting assignments.

He is Chair of Fisher and Paykel Appliances (now 100% Haier owned), a director of Chorus NZ Ltd (split from Telecom (NZ) Ltd in 2011, a listed, network only, company). He is also a director on Spark Infrastructure (ASX100) and its 3 asset companies, (South Australia Power Networks, Victoria Power Networks and TransGrid in NSW ), and has involvement with a number of small start up companies.

He was formally a director of Auckland International Airport Ltd 2004 - 2014 and its Deputy Chair from 2007 - 2014.

I have had the pleasure of working with Keith in establishing the Power Engineering Excellence Trust and Electric Power Engineering Centre at Canterbury University in 2001. Big project or small project Keith brings a vision, passion and commitment to making things change for the better. The model he established is a unique partnership between the NZ industry and academia. The result is an internationally recognised world class power industry research centre which is producing great work and great young talent for our industry.

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