Geothermal production managers oversee tasks and operations at power plants to generate power from geothermal energy.
In the search for new energy resources, scientists have discovered ways to use the Earth itself as a valuable source of power. As far back as the 1800s, people extracted water from geothermal hot springs to use in homes or businesses. However, it wasn’t until 1960 that the first large-scale geothermal electricity generation plant began operating in the U.S., at The Geysers in California.
Today, the U.S. has approximately 3,187 megawatts of installed geothermal generating capacity, more than any other country in the world. In 2010, geothermal energy accounted for 3 percent of renewable energy-based electricity consumption in the U.S. In 2012, the geothermal industry is developing 130 geothermal projects in 15 states, according to the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA). As geothermal technologies become more cost-effective in comparison to other power sources, more development might occur.
Those with geothermal production manager jobs are responsible for directing, coordinating, planning and overseeing geothermal plant operations, maintenance, and repairs to ensure compliance with applicable standards or regulations. They identify and evaluate equipment, procedural, or conditional inefficiencies involving geothermal plant systems. Geothermal production managers perform or direct the performance of preventative maintenance on geothermal plant equipment. They inspect geothermal plant or injection well fields to verify proper equipment operations.
A big part of a geothermal production manager’s responsibilities is to supervise employees in geothermal power plants or well fields. They need to effectively and timely communicate geothermal plant conditions to employees. They develop or manage budgets for geothermal operations. They also develop operating plans and schedules for geothermal operations. On a daily basis, geothermal productions managers need to record, perform review and maintain logs, reports, maintenance, and other records associated with geothermal operations.
As part of their job, geothermal production managers select and implement corrosion control or mitigation systems for geothermal plants. They monitor geothermal operations, using programmable logic controllers. They conduct well field site assessments. They also identify opportunities to improve plant electrical equipment, controls, or process control methodologies. Geothermal production managers troubleshoot and make minor repairs to geothermal plant instrumentation or electrical systems. They also obtain permits for constructing, upgrading, or operating geothermal power plants.
Geothermal production managers split their time between the production area and their offices. When they are working in the production area, they may need to wear protective equipment such as a helmet or safety goggles. Most geothermal production managers work full time and many work more than 40 hours per week. In some facilities, geothermal production managers work night or weekend shifts and must be on call to deal with emergencies at any time.
To obtain a green job as a geothermal production manager, it is usually require an associate’s degree. Employers prefer geothermal production managers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. While the degree may be in any field, many geothermal production managers have a bachelor’s degree in business administration or industrial engineering. Sometimes, geothermal technicians with many years of experience take management classes and become a geothermal production manager. At large plants, where managers have more oversight responsibilities, employers may look for geothermal production managers who have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a graduate degree in industrial management.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates a bright outlook for geothermal production managers and expects employment of this field to grow between 3 to 9 percent from 2010 until 2020, a little slower than the average for all green jobs. The BLS projected 49,000 geothermal production manager job openings between 2010 and 2020, and noted 150,000 jobs are currently filled. Titles include Operations Manager, Maintenance Manager, Operations Supervisor, Plant Manager, Site Manager, Plant Supervisor, and Power Plant Operations Manager. The BLS further reports that the median annual wage for salaried geothermal production managers was $89,190 in 2012 with median hourly wage of $42.88. Geothermal production managers are paid most highly in Texas, where they receive average job salaries of approximating $114,090. People working these jobs can get the best compensation in Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services, where they can get average job salaries of $112,570.