The Changing Nature of System Operations
Since the 1950’s, PSP has been involved in an ongoing research program which tracks success factors in Systems Operations work. We have conducted numerous validation studies over the years in order to compare actual work performance of existing System Operators with test results from PSP’s assessment program. We have consistently found that a particular constellation of abilities/aptitudes, interests, and work behaviors distinguish successful System Operators from other performers. In recent years we have noticed a change in the pattern of work behaviors which predicts success. This change has paralleled the deregulation of the electric utility industry, suggesting a “domino effect” on the actual work habits and work behaviors of Power System Operators.
Thus, while it remains important to have the proper intellectual capability to learn the job and genuine interest in the work activities themselves in order to remain a System Operator for many years, work habits/behaviors play an increasingly important role in success in the new, competitive environment. This is true for System Operators in local utilities, and more so in Power Pools/ISO’s. System Operators in ISO settings have additional challenges of quickly learning different power generation networks that are independently operated and utilize different terminology. This requires diplomatic communications skills and the ability to cope with additional learning and job pressure. Time management is increasingly important as are following procedures, sharing information and working together as a team.
Increasingly, system operators are being drawn from groups that lack extensive utility background, which increases the importance of selection and training. The stakes are high in today’s system operations work activities and the selection and training of new and experienced system operators are more important than ever. Assessment of aptitudes, interests and work behaviors helps to insure that decisions on selection and training are made according to the main success factors in system operations work.