The grid is evolving at a rapid pace. Across the country, many states are introducing legislation mandating utilities to make a substantial change toward renewable energy. In addition, private industry is spearheading green initiatives that will challenge traditional energy consumption methods worldwide. As a result, the conventional way of controlling the grid is being challenged and increasing in complexity.
Renewable technologies are being introduced across the grid, from large generation operations on the transmission system down to smaller home-based rooftop solar installations on the distribution system. Each method brings different operating challenges that control rooms face multiple times a day. The classic linear energy delivery from distant power plants to city load centers is changing to a more bi-directional operation. Markets are being opened to the public, unlocking new revenue streams and allowing microgrid systems to compete with traditional generation models.
In response to these changes, control rooms have to adjust their operational philosophies, and operators require new tools and skills to manage the system. Previous methods of bringing in line and station personnel to fill operations positions are being challenged, as many utilities find themselves hiring more operations personnel “off the street” with little to no utility or electricity experience. It is getting harder to obtain the right mix of knowledge and skill to operate in today’s environment. Even the traditional path from the line and station departments requires focused development of new skills as the influx of new technologies has changed the work within the control center.
The good news is that it is not too late for control rooms to shift their approach and respond successfully to in-flight and future changing market dynamics. Relying on traditional “the way we’ve always done it” training methodology is not only an outdated view but also quickly becoming an incomplete view of the operator development. Operations groups that work proactively and efficiently to identify their existing and future pain points and where their strengths and gaps exist will be better equipped to face these market shifts head on.