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Power Distribution and Transmission Training FAQ’s

Shane Sinha July 20, 2018 0

Improving Power Plant Efficiency

The power and utilities industry is growing and changing so fast it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Global energy use is forecasted to grow by one-third by 2040, according the IEA. About 7,000 miles of transmission lines will need to be added, NERC estimated. Renewable are expected reach 50% of generation in the European Union and above 25% in the United States by 2040. There are a variety of employment opportunities in the power and utilities industry, but you’ll need to right knowledge, skills, and training.

Working in electric power generation, transmission, and distribution can be an interesting and hazardous job. Because the production of reliable power is such an important, and dangerous, endeavor, there are many regulations applicable to the industry.

NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation) monitors, regulates, and implements compliance policies for power system operators in the U.S. and Canada. OSHA requires all employers to reduce risks, inform workers about possible hazards, and supply the necessary protective equipment. They also must provide the training needed for employees to safely perform their job duties.

In this latest post, we will discuss the frequently asked questions about power distribution and power transmission training programs:

Power Distribution Trainings

  • What is Power Distribution? The electricity that power plants generate is delivered to customers over transmission and distribution power lines. Transformers at substations increase or reduce voltages to adjust to the different stages of the journey from the power plant through long-distance transmission lines to distribution lines that carry electricity to homes and businesses. Electricity generating technology installed by a customer or independent electricity producer connected at the distribution system level of the electric grid is called “distributed generation.”
  • What is an Electric Grid? An electric grid is a web of interconnected circuits producing and transporting electricity from generators (power plants) to customers. Elements of an electric grid include:
    • Power plants (generators) that produce electricity
    • Transmission system that transmits power from generators to the distribution system
    • Distribution system reduces the voltage through substations and then distributes it over lower-voltage wires to customers.
    • Customers’ access electricity after it has been “stepped down” through a transformer, and a meter measures the electricity used.
  • Who Needs Power Distribution Training? Employers are required to implement the safe work practices and worker training requirements of OSHA’s Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution Standard, 29 CFR 1910.269. Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers need a high school diploma and extensive on-the-job training, which may include classroom and hands-on training. Power plant operators and dispatchers undergo rigorous, long-term training and technical instruction on the job. Years of onsite training and experience are required to become fully qualified and regular training courses are necessary to keep skills up to date. Workers who may need power distribution training include:
    • Technicians
    • Electrical Engineers
    • Mechanical Engineers
    • Power System Operators
    • Operations Managers
    • Project Managers

Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers in positions that could affect the power grid may need to be certified through the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s System Operator Certification Program.

  • What Topics does the Power Distribution Training Cover? A power distribution training course would likely cover the operation and protection of distribution systems in three categories:
    • Distribution system training
    • System protection technology
    • Electrical fundamental
  • What is System Protection Technology Training? Distribution System Training provides detailed information for seasoned and new distribution system operators to help them be more competent in their field. It discusses the operation and protection of distribution systems that enable them to understand their work better. Courses may include:
    • Power Factor
    • Impedance and Voltage Drop
    • System Layout
    • Overhead Lines
    • Underground Distribution Systems
    • Substations
    • Distributed Generation
    • Transformers
  • What is Electrical Fundamentals Training? An Electrical Fundamentals training series gives an introduction to the theory of electricity and the basic concepts of Ohms Law. It discusses the fundamental characteristics of AC circuits and explores the concept of power and the factors affecting it. Courses may include:
    • Basic Electricity
    • Properties of AC Circuits
    • Power and Power Factor
    • Three Phase Systems

Power Transmission Training

  • What is the Electric Power Standard? OSHA requires certain employers to comply with standard 1910.269 Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution. First issued in 1972, the standard was updated for consistency and improved safety. The final rule was expected to prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 118 serious injuries annually. Revised §1910.269 and Subpart V became effective on July 10, 2014.
  • Who Must Comply with the Standard? Employers that operate or maintain electric power generation, transmission, or distribution lines or equipment must follow §1910.269. Employers with employees who perform construction work on electric power transmission or distributionlines or equipment must follow Subpart V.
  • What Employee Training is Required? In a Power Transmission training program, each employee shall be trained in, and familiar with:
    • Safety-related work practices
    • Safety procedures
    • Emergency procedures
    • Other safety requirements. The risk to the employee for the hazard involved determines the degree of training.
  • What Knowledge and Skills are required? Power transmission employees need the skills and techniques necessary to:
    • Recognize electrical hazards to which they’ll be exposed
    • Control or avoid electrical hazards
    • Distinguish exposed live parts from other parts of electric equipment
    • Determine the nominal voltage of exposed live parts
    • Identify and maintain the minimum approach distances corresponding to voltages
    • Use special precautionary techniques, personal protective equipment, and insulating materials and tools for working on or near exposed energized parts
  • When is Retraining Necessary? Employees should receive additional training when:
    • Supervisors or inspectors indicate an employee is not complying with safe work practices.
    • New technology, equipment, or procedures necessitate the use of different safety-related work practices.
    • Employees must use safety-related work practices that are not normally used during his or her regular job duties (i.e., less often than once per year).
  • What is Necessary for Employees with Previous Training? For an employee with previous training, proficiency can be verified by:
    • Making an initial determination, via an exam or interview, that the employee understands the relevant safety-related work practices before he or she performs work
    • Supervise the employee closely until that employee has demonstrated proficiency
  • What about First Aid Training? When employees are performing work on exposed lines or equipment energized at 50 volts or more, persons with first-aid training shall be available for field work and fixed work locations.

Reliable power production is achieved through enforcement of NERC standards and the certification… Click To Tweet

  • Is there Power Transmission Certification? Reliable power production is achieved through enforcement of NERC standards and the certification of system operators. NERC’s System Operator Certification Program seeks to ensure system operators meet minimum qualifications. To earn certification, an operator passes an exam and completes NERC‐approved continuing education every three years.
  • What is on the NERC System Operator Certification Exam? The certification exam is based on job analysis surveys of certified operators across the industry. There are four exams containing 100 to 120 questions: Reliability Exam, Balancing, Interchange, and Transmission Exam, Transmission Exam, and Balancing Exam. Each exam will test the following major knowledge areas:
    • Resource and Demand Balancing
    • Transmission
    • Emergency Preparedness
    • Emergency Response
    • Contingency Analysis and Reliability
    • Communications and Data
  • What is the Required Training for the NERC System Operator Certification? Operators must be sufficiently knowledgeable to pass the certification exam. Then to maintain certification, operators must complete continuing education every three years. Power transmission courses provide in-depth reviews of the fundamentals and advanced concepts of day-to-day and emergency operations of transmission assets. It also takes up monitoring and control processes, according to NERC standards. Power transmission training courses may include:
    • Transmission System Protection
    • Transmission Operations 101 – Monitor, Assess and Respond
    • Transmission Control
    • Power Dispatching
    • System Restoration
    • Control Performance Requirements
    • Synchronizing Islands
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