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How a Systematic Approach to Training Ensures Safe, Reliable Power Operations

Muddassir Katchi July 19, 2013 0

High voltage

As a system operator in bulk power, you’re responsible for ensuring the safety and reliability of the power system. Operators deal with load forecasting, power generation management (coal, gas, nuclear and hydro), plant maintenance, upgrades, fuel costs, and unplanned outages. They ease overloaded sections of the grid. They often do all this working a 12-hour day/night shift rotation.

Operators also have to take part in ongoing professional training. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), uses internationally-recognized procedures to guarantee that systems operators are qualified. New operators are certified via four available exams:

  • Reliability
  • Balancing, Interchange and Transmission
  • Transmission
  • Balancing

Once an operator has been certified, the credential is maintained by meeting continuing education requirements every three years. Compliance, HR and operations managers at power and utility companies can help keep employees up-to-date by developing and implementing a compliance program. To do this, employees and their supervisors have to agree on performance standards, which answer the following questions:

  • How long should it take to perform a task?
  • How accurate must the outcome of the task be?
  • What is the acceptable outcome of the task?

Performance standards require reliability coordinators, balancing authorities and transmission operators to establish training programs, verify workers’ ability to perform tasks, and provide emergency operations training. NERC calls these performance standards a “significant step in strengthening the quality of operator training programs as necessary for the reliability of the bulk power system.”

One of these standards, Reliability Standard PER-005, ensures system operators performing real-time, reliability-related tasks on the North American bulk electric system are competent to do their job safely and effectively. The key element of PER-005 is the Systematic Approach to Training. This approach combines knowledge, skills and behavior. It breaks core competency requirements down to a granular level, identifying tasks specific to an area of responsibility. Assessments are regularly conducted to identify where additional training is needed.

PER-005 applies to reliability coordinators, balancing authorities, and transmission operators. The Systematic Approach to Training means having a company-specific, reliability-related task list relevant to Bulk-Power System operation. Training objectives and materials are developed based on the task list performed by its system operators and must be evaluated on at least an annual basis to assess their effectiveness.

To understand The Systematic Approach to Training, let’s break down each word:

  • Systematic: Planned, documented, repeatable, logical and structured.
  • Approach: Methodical, process, management, tactic and attitude.
  • Training: Instruction that achieves desired levels of performance.

The approach manifests itself in a company’s training program in five distinct phases:

  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Development
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation offers a System Operator Certification Program that uses internationally-recognized procedures to guarantee that employees are qualified. There are no eligibility requirements, and applications are accepted year-round. The System Operator Certification and Continuing Education Database (SOCCED) is used to submit coursework for approval, verify continuing education, and register and pay to take NERC certification exams. You’ll find it’s the easiest and most effective way to keep employees up-to-date on safe and effective operations.

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