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Job Classification Impacts of Grid Modernization

The one constant that all electric power utilities share is change. Grid modernization efforts are nearly continuous from generation facilities across transmission lines and into distribution networks around the world. One of the most pressing challenges faced by power utilities is maintaining accurate Job Task Analysis (JTA) records and implementing training strategies that ensure personnel stay abreast of these constant changes.

The JTA is the most critical component of workforce analysis that should to be performed by a power utility, as it provides benchmarking for operational events and the minimum expected response. It also facilitates creating a training schedule for new and experienced personnel alike.

For both North American Electrical Reliability Corporation (NERC) functional entities (FE’s) and non-NERC regulated power utilities, the three most significant challenges are:

  1. Maintaining a “single source of truth.”
    • Companies must maintain a single source of truth that accurately reflects as-operated field conditions in the network model managed by controllers and operators in near real-time. Company-specific JTAs/RRTs provide the foundation for the company’s duty as a power utility or FE. This single source of truth allows all roles to have visibility and various touchpoints to update the source of truth.
    • Beyond good practice, power utilities identified as FE’s by NERC are required to create and maintain a company-specific JTA list known as Reliability Related Tasks (RRT’s). These serve as the keystone for the organization’s real-time operating and operations training practices.  Because of continuous modernization efforts, these listings should be treated as “living documents,” meaning they never stop changing.
    • NERC requires JTA documents to be reviewed at a minimum once per calendar year, with documented evidence of review and revision always readily available to demonstrate full compliance. In addition to the potential operational upsets, failure to comply with PER-005-2 can be extremely costly because the standard carries five (5) medium and one (1) high Violation Risk Factors, with the potential for a “severe” Violation Severity Level.
  2. Implementing new or upgraded ADMS, EMS, and/or OMS software.
    • The deployment of new or upgraded control room and field software is never an easy process. In most cases, the education and training that comes along with the product are generic and not customized to end-user needs. Because significant time is invested in customizing the application for go-live, even more time should be invested in training end-users in both basic and advanced functionality.
    • Workforce impacts, analysis, training needs, and related curriculum and deliveries should be divided into three workstreams: pre-purchase, purchase/pre-go live, and post go-live. Each of these workstreams should have milestones that are flexible and not flexible. This approach increases the likelihood that end-users are learning a nearly finished product in terms of functionality by the time the operator begins to learn how to use the new software.
  3. Failing to document and train personnel on system modernization.
    • There is a dangerous mentality around the power industry that assumes what has been sufficient in the past is enough for today and will be adequate for tomorrow. While this may be accurate for fundamental concepts such as how AC and DC work, modernization requires that our operators stay abreast of a variety of challenges and conditions.
    • The process of tracking changes, integrating those changes into RRT’s and JTA’s, and developing quality training to reach all necessary end-users is daunting but necessary to avoid operational upsets, fines, and loss of customer confidence.

Do you have questions about JTA’s RRT’s or grid modernization software training, contacts us at info@themosaiccompany.com