Callide Power Station

In profile: Manager Production David Pearce

26 Mar 2024
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David Pearce body copy


One of David Pearce’s happiest moments during nearly 40 years working at CS Energy’s Callide Power Stations was being able to bring his family to the site for a Christmas event.

“They just loved it,” David said. "They said they thought it was awesome, and I’ve had similar feedback from other people at the site.”

The moment was full circle for David, who recalls visiting his uncle at Callide A when he was a child.

“Power stations were never in my mind when I was thinking of what I’d do after school – I knew nothing about them, except my mother’s older brother lived in Biloela and worked at Callide A Power Station where I had visited him a couple of times with my family,” he said.

“I must say, it was massive, and an eye-opening experience – but I didn’t ever think I would work there.”

An opportunity to apply for one of four apprenticeships at Callide A opened up when David was completing Year 12, and he was soon learning to be a mechanical tradesperson.

“I knew nothing about fitting and turning and never had a prior interest; but once I started, I became very interested – and I’m still learning,” David said.

The apprenticeship saw David complete three years of technical college blocks throughout his four years at Callide A, after which he left the industry to work at a machine workshop in Gladstone for six months, and 1.5 years at a commercial abattoir back in Biloela before returning to Callide Power Station in 1988 to work at the recently built Callide B.

“So, my latest stint at Callide Power Station has been for 35 years, and if you include the four-year apprenticeship, I’ve been here for 39 years,” he said.

David’s held a number of roles during that time, starting as an apprentice fitter and turner before doing further studies to get a steam ticket and being able to also join the operations team.

“I was a Relief Operator and doing both maintaining and operating where relief was needed,” he said.

“And then over a period of time, I left maintenance altogether with a full-time shift job, and worked up through the ranks – I could drive all the Callide A (now retired), B, and C units.

“I’ve also worked as a shift supervisor, and on a lot of overhauls. And now, I’m the Production Manager.”

An industry in transition

The industry has evolved and grown considerably since David first started, including people who come in from other places to work.

“There weren’t so many people living out of town when I started, whereas folks travel a lot now, and you have so many people living on the coast. It’s nothing now to have operators from as far away as Brisbane.”

The energy transition is another reason David continues to enjoy working in the industry.

“It’s a challenging time for the industry as we transition, and it’s a slow thing, moving from one form of producing power to another - or multiple – forms,” he said.

“And I think that I’m one of those people that can help with that transition; I’m the right sort of makeup and have the right kind of personality to help see it through. I care for the people, that we’re doing alright, and that we will make it through to the next stage.”

“I look at the energy industry like the trading market. It goes up and down all the time. So, as we transition into the future, there’ll be ups and downs – there’s never total smoothness.

“But if we’re wise in how we do it, I think it’s a very bright future, it will only be better. Hopefully we’ll get cheaper power, and we’ll get some different technologies to bring the price down.”

A path unimagined

David said that CS Energy has been a great place to work, proven by how many people keep coming back.

“If I had to give some advice to someone that’s just starting their career at CS Energy, I’d like them to consider the potential of where it could lead them,” he said.

“Understand that you may have applied for a job, and you might be starting here – but there’s so much opportunity in an industry like this. It’s so varied, and I think it’s only going to increase when we go to the different kinds of ways of producing and distributing power,” he said.

“Within this industry alone there is so much variety and so much coming in the future – just knuckle in, be faithful, learn what you can.

“You don’t know where it’s going to lead you in the future – it could be on a path you might never have imagined, like it did with me.”