Douglas G. Price, Key Project Leader of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Power Scheme, Dies at Age 87

August 26, 2014

Douglas G. Price, F.ASCE, who was a key project leader on the 23-year, $1 billion-plus hydroelectric project in Australia known as the Snowy Mountains Scheme, and the first CEO and managing director of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Co., died on July 10 at the age of 87. Located in Australia’s southeast, Snowy Mountains was one of the world’s largest and most intricate multipurpose water projects. Generating more than 4,000 megawatts of power before releasing the water to irrigate the continent’s dry interior, the massive project included the construction of 17 large dams, 145 kilometers of tunnels, 2,000 kilometers of roads, and 80 kilometers of aqueducts. The project, which began in 1950 and involved work by more than 100,000 workers from 30 countries, has been identified as an ASCE international historic civil engineering landmark and was named by the Engineering News-Record as one of the world’s Top 125 projects over the previous 125 years. Born in Campbelltown, New South Wales, on February 9, 1927, Price received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Sydney in 1950. Following graduation, he worked for a short time in the U.S. with contractors who had built the Boulder and Hoover dams before he took a job as an engineer in Australia with the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. Price was then asked to join the first of several Australian government overseas aid projects that included construction of large dams on the Mekong River in Cambodia and road-building in Thailand. He was named the authority’s assistant commissioner in 1967 before becoming assistant director in 1970. Five years later he became the first CEO and managing director of the newly formed Snowy Mountains Engineering Co. (SMEC), a government-owned firm that specialized in water, power, and road engineering. He retired from SMEC in 1988 and became managing partner with D.G. & E.F. Price Consulting Services until his recent death. Price, who was a fellow with the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, earned Australia’s highest engineering award, the Peter Nicol Russell Memorial Medal Career Achievement Award in 1984.

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