Tutorial 3: System Operator Simulation

Dr. Robin Podmore

IEEE Fellow,
Member NAE,
NERC Certified System Operator.

Date: Tuesday 24th August, 2021

Session: 0630-0830 UTC


Dr. Podmore has a 50 year career in developing new applications for power system operations and control. He was a founder of ESCA, now GE Grid, in 1979 and led the new business development function. He founded IncSys, in 1990 and was a founding contributor to the IEC Common Information Model. Since the late 1990s he has focused on developing simulation tools and curriculum for training power system operators. He has developed and delivered training for power system trainers and operators throughout USA, Canada, Brazil, Iraq, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Kenya and Australia.  Dr. Podmore has research and developed innovative methods creating Virtual Instructors using the Recognition Primed Decision Model as well the SECI Model of Professor Nonaka. Dr. Podmore is also Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of IEEE Smart Village as well as Founder and President of Rotary E Club of Silicon Valley Smart Village. Dr. Podmore has used his knowledge from founding companies and capacity development to mentor IEEE Smart Village Entrepreneurs in India, Cameroon, Nigeria, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia.

Tutorial Abstract

In this one day workshop you will have an opportunity to understand power systems from the perspective of a real-time System Operator. You will be able to assess whether you have the aptitude and desire to be a system operator. You will also be better prepared to work with system operators as a power system engineer.

System operators work from control centers using computer consoles and map-boards to manage the reliable delivery of electricity to consumers, businesses and industry. System operators interact over the phone and radio with field crews, general personnel, substation personnel, and other system operators within their own utility and with neighboring utilities. 

In this class you will work on-line as part of a small team with the real-time PowerSimulator product with a highly realistic hypothetical power system model.  During the class you will play the role of various system operators and perform the following reliability related tasks under normal and emergency system conditions. 

  1. Frequency and Balancing Control – managing capacity emergencies and responding to loss of multiple generating units.
  2. Managing MW Flows – performing generation redispatch and transmission reconfiguration to mitigate thermal overloads and transfer limits.
  3. Managing Voltage and MVAr static and dynamic resources and preventing Voltage Collapse using contingency analysis.
  4. Managing Angle Stability and Preventing Cascading Outages using contingency analysis.

Most of your time as a system operator is spent routinely monitoring the system conditions. As a Transmission Operator you will have to prepare and implement switching orders to support your field crews in de-energizing and isolating system equipment for repair or maintenance and then re-energizing and returning equipment to service. You have to be able to focus with great attention to detail and operating procedures while maintaining overall situation awareness. It is especially important to remain cool and calm under stress and set priorities when there are multiple demands on your time.

System operators typically work on shifts (which vary by utility).  This means that long days are common. On the other hand, when you go home, you can leave your job behind you and pursue other interests such as working as a volunteer for IEEE Smart Village. 

The PowerSimulator product, jointly developed by IncSys and PowerData with the EPRI OTS, is used extensively by system operators throughout North America and internationally for system restoration and emergency operation drills.