Renewable Energy Jobs

Power distributors and dispatchers manage and distribute electricity from power plants to industrial and end users

Power Plant Dispatcher Jobs and Green Career Profile

Those with power plant dispatcher jobs control the flow of electricity from the power plant through transmission lines to industrial plants and substations, and finally, over distribution lines to residential users. Power plant distributors and dispatchers monitor and operate current converters, voltage transformers, and circuit breakers. They also monitor other distribution equipment and record readings using a map of the transmission grid system showing the status of transmission circuits and connections with substations and industrial plants.

Understanding Power Plant Dispatcher Jobs

Understanding Power Distributors and Dispatchers JobsPower distributors and dispatchers’ main responsibility is to control, monitor, or operate equipment that regulates or distributes electricity, using data obtained from instruments or computers.  They distribute or regulate the flow of power between entities, such as generating stations, substations, distribution lines, or users while keeping track of the status of circuits or connections. Those with power plant dispatcher jobs also monitor and record switchboard or control board readings to ensure that electrical or steam distribution equipment is operating properly. Using transmission system maps, they record and compile operational data, such as chart or meter readings, power demands, or usage and operating times.

Power distributors and dispatchers are responsible in responding to emergencies, such as transformer or transmission line failures, and route current around affected areas. They use drawings of power systems to prepare switching orders that will isolate work areas without causing power outages.  Power distributors and dispatchers track conditions that could affect power needs, such as changes in the weather, and adjust equipment to meet any anticipated changes.  They manipulate controls to adjust or activate power distribution equipment or machines. They also calculate load estimates or equipment requirements to determine the required control settings.

Those with power plant dispatcher jobs coordinate with engineers, planners, field personnel, or other utility workers to provide information such as clearances, switching orders, or distribution process changes.  They direct personnel engaged in controlling or operating distribution equipment or machinery, such as instructing control room operators to start boilers or generators. Power distributors and dispatchers inspect equipment to ensure that specifications are met or to detect any defects. They implement energy schedules and optimize them for energy efficiency, including real-time transmission reservations or schedules. They also manage auxiliary equipment used in the power distribution process.

To perform their job, power distributors and dispatchers use a variety of tools and technologies. They use hand tools to repair, maintain, or clean equipment or machinery. They work with electrical control panels for generators or distribution board such as integrated power system switchboards, multi-metering switchboards or panelboard switches. They use industrial control software such as ABB MicroSCADA Pro DMS, OSI monarch/SGP, Siemens Spectrum Power TG, and supervisory control and data acquisition SCADA software to control and monitor processes.

Power Distributors and Dispatchers Green Job Summary

  • Power distributors and dispatchers coordinate, regulate, or distribute electricity from the power plants over transmission lines to industrial plants, substations and residential users.
  • Power distributors and dispatchers job outlook is projected to be with little or no change due to advances in technology and smart grid projects that automate some of the work of dispatchers. However, job opportunities are expected to be excellent due to a number of new more efficient power plants to replace old ones or those that are better for the environment due to regulations.
  • Power distributors and dispatchers jobs are expected to have 3,600 new jobs filled by 2022.

Work Environment for Power Distributors and Dispatchers

The majority of power distributors and dispatchers worked in the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution industry. Some work for the state and local government. Power distributors and dispatchers who work in control rooms generally sit or stand at a control station. The work requires constant attention although not physically strenuous. They also may do rounds, checking equipment and doing other work outside the control room, at transmission stations and substations. Because electricity is provided around the clock, power distributors and dispatchers usually work rotating 8- or 12-hour shifts.

Power Distributors and Dispatchers Education, Training and Licensing

To enter a green job as a power plant distributor and dispatcher, one usually needs a combination of education, experience, and extensive on-the-job training which may include a combination of classroom and hands-on training. Power distributors and dispatchers need at least a high school diploma. However, employers may prefer workers with college or vocational school degrees. Employers also prefer people with strong math and science backgrounds for these highly technical jobs. There are 3 recognized apprenticeable specialties associated with this green job, which are Substation Operator, Switchboard Operator and Load Dispatcher.

Many companies require potential candidates to take the Power Plant Maintenance (MASS) and Plant Operator (POSS) exams from the Edition Electrical Institute to see if they have the right skills for this work. These tests measure reading comprehension, understanding of mechanical concepts, spatial ability, and mathematical ability. It is important for candidates to understand electricity and math, especially algebra and trigonometry. Those who are selected undergo rigorous, long-term on-the-job training and technical instruction. Several years of onsite training and experience are necessary to become fully qualified. In addition, power distributors and dispatchers must take regular training courses to keep their skills up to date.

Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates a bright outlook for Power distributors and dispatchers and expects little or no change in employment of this field. The BLS projected 3,600 civil engineer job openings between 2012 and 2022, and noted 12,000 jobs are currently filled. Titles include System Operator, Load Dispatcher, Transmission System Operator, Electric System Operator, Control Operator, Distribution Operations Supervisor, Distribution System Operator, Power System Dispatcher, Control Area Operator, and Power System Operator. The BLS further reports that the median annual wage for salaried Power distributors and dispatchers was $71,690 in 2012 with median hourly wage of $34.47. Across the US job market, he lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,210, and the top 10 percent earned more than $96,840. Power distributors and dispatchers can receive the best compensation in Nevada, where they earn compensation, on average, of about $93,380. People in this job function are compensated at the highest average salary in Management of Companies and Enterprises, where they get average pay levels of $78,420.

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