Team of the Month > February 2022< All Stories
Whether rain, snow, sleet, or sunshine, there are always a minimum of two System Operators working in the Energy Control Center (ECC). The ECC doesn’t close for Christmas and it doesn’t take a break for Fourth of July. Even in a global pandemic, the ECC has provided continuous, 24/7, onsite support so that that the PUD can respond when customers need us.
“Working in the ECC is being the heartbeat of the PUD,” said Jeff Moss, System Operator 2. “Not only do we dispatch the appropriate personnel, but we also prepare for multiple contingencies while the first responders are en route. It’s a team effort between ECC and the Servicemen to develop a plan that is safest for the crews, while being able to restore power to as many customers as possible.”
In 2021 alone, ECC operators processed 154,891 outage calls, 105,667 of which occurred on grey sky or storm days. On average, a grey sky day equates to a 28-fold increase in calls over what is typically processed on blue sky days.
Staffing a 24/7/365 operation comes with issues on a good day, and then came the COVID-19 pandemic. The ECC had to overcome many challenges over the past two years with the impact that COVID has had on staffing levels due to clean teams, voluntary pandemic leave and retirement attrition. In 2021, the ECC lost 10 System Operators to attrition, and those positions had to be filled during the pandemic. Since this group must do their work in-person, there were also the additional challenges of maintaining a safe work environment. These factors created a situation that required veteran and new System Operators to go above and beyond to continue to maintain critical operations.
“The System Operators have been faced with a lot over the past few years,” said Paige Olson, Energy Control Superintendent. “The Team has stepped up to ensure continued operations 24/7. They have been diligent about COVID safety protocols to ensure that critical staffing levels are maintained. They also have had to adapt to learn how to work with support departments that are now remote or hybrid.”
The ECC Team is committed to supporting field personnel, customers and the PUD while ensuring the safe operation of the electric system. System Operators have had to work additional 12-hour shifts with many of those shifts back-to-back to ensure continuous coverage in the ECC, provide additional support for storms, and maintain North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) compliance for the transmission system. In addition to the long hours and extra shifts, the Team has been focused on providing extensive training to the new System Operators and Apprentices who were hired during the pandemic.
“We have a great team of veteran Operators, several of whom were new to the PUD last year,” said Mark Flury, Senior Manager Transmission & Distribution System Operations & Engineering. “This Team rose to the challenges presented by two-years of staffing shortages. They were never unable to fill a shift. Their sacrifice and dedication did not go unnoticed. I want to thank each of them for their extraordinary efforts.”
“Recognition of the ECC System Operations Team is well deserved and I am very proud of their dedication, professionalism, and perseverance through these challenging times,” said Paige.
Congratulations to the ECC Team:
- Steph Carpenter, System Operator 1
- Billy Chen, System Operator 1
- Debbie Jaeger, System Operator 2
- Ted Kimball, System Operations Training Coord
- Allan Koski, System Operator 2
- Lindley Latham, ECC Operations Coordinator
- Shane Mahoney, Apprentice System Operator 1
- John Mantow, System Operator 2
- Breve McLendon, System Operator 2
- Doug Metcalfe, Apprentice System Operator 1
- Jeff Moss, System Operator 2
- Paige Olson, Energy Control Superintendent
- George Ott, System Operator 2
- Jeff Rife, Energy Control General Foreman
- Robert Riojas, ECC NERC Compliance Manager
- Craig Rogass, System Operator 2
- Ron Verburg, System Operator 2
- David Whittenberger, Outage Coordinator
- Perry Williams, System Operator 2