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Transforming the SysOp

Strategic pain points require an artful approach.

Fortnightly Magazine - March 2008

type of work environment, along with economic and professional development incentives, will go a long way in ensuring utilities retain the best talent available.

Prioritizing SysOp Talent

System operations is a critical area within utilities—one literally responsible for “keeping the lights on.” The role of the system operator arguably can be defined as one of the more diverse functions within a utility—someone who understands technology and the behavior of power systems, and also has the ability to work effectively with the field workforce. These complexities and challenges facing system operators are increasing, due to more usage of renewable and intermittent resources, increased spans of control, more data available for analysis, and limited system predictability due to aging grid infrastructure. While the problems the system operator faces may be shared with others within the utility and the entire industry, answers to these problems are being customized to reflect the unique and critical nature of system operations and the critical role it plays.

A combined talent-management approach takes into account the specific nature of the challenges facing those who work in system operations. To develop effective solutions, utilities will consider industry best practices, tailor solutions aligned to their particular business goals, and develop comprehensive plans for implementation. In addition, this work is being recognized as a high priority from top executives within the organization by multiple stakeholders ( e.g., employees, HR, and management) due to potential complexities in hiring, learning and retention.

As momentum for these drivers builds, and the nature of the workforce continues to change, utilities have a tremendous opportunity to increase customer satisfaction and exceed regulatory standards and requirements.