The People Behind Electricity: Part 1

As we go about our day-to-day lives, it’s easy to see some of the new, innovative technologies and infrastructure that contribute to powering homes and businesses across our city. What’s a little harder to see is the work that goes on behind the scenes, 24/7, and the people working hard to make sure we stay connected.

So, who are these people in the electricity industry and how are they contributing to making the industry what it is today – from keeping your lights on, allowing you to work from home during these trying times, and allowing our city to expand and optimize its energy capabilities to meet tomorrow’s needs? Because there are so many key members of our crew, we are releasing this as a quarterly series to highlight as many as we can. So, in no particular order, here are six roles to kick-off this series on our electric all-stars:

Generation maintenance engineers

Generation maintenance engineers take care of maintaining, optimizing, and innovating our generating facilities, such as Chaudière Falls (Generating Station 5). They are technical experts and pride themselves in understanding the ins and outs of all generation equipment. They are constantly planning ahead to mitigate potential failures and providing technical guidance to operations and maintenance crews.

Powerhouse operators

Think of powerhouse operators as the captains of generating stations – they are responsible for the ongoing operation and optimized output of all electricity generating equipment. On a day to day level, their job is to monitor the generators, adjusting them based on water levels, weather conditions, and more. They also perform routine inspections, and maintain ongoing communications with the team at the Chaudière dam. Keeping the facility and its equipment clean and safe is always a top priority.

Smart grid engineers

Smart grid engineers are dedicated to the innovation, design, development and system support of grid modernization technologies. Their goal is to undertake cross departmental projects that make the distribution system more resilient, sustainable and accessible in order to leverage flexible loads, renewable generation – such as solar, wind and hydro – and storage as much as possible. Some projects include implementing and integrating advanced operational technology to offer system operators greater visibility and control over devices within the distribution network. Their efforts make integrating renewables into the grid more feasible and allow distribution companies to use these resources and technologies more efficiently. With the hard work and creativity of smart grid engineers, we are on our way to a more energy secure and sustainable future.

System operators

System operators form the backbone of the strong communication between workers in the field and the situational awareness that is crucial for addressing outages quickly. They are the “controlling authority” at Hydro Ottawa and as such the system operator has the responsibility to ensure the integrity and security of Hydro Ottawa’s distribution system which is accomplished through the monitoring of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Outage Management System. The system operator responds to distribution system events, analyzes data and directs field crews, ensuring the safety of personnel, safeguarding distribution system equipment and minimizing the duration and impact of distribution system disturbances (i.e. outages).

Powerline technicians

The primary role of powerline technicians is to repair and maintain power supply to Hydro Ottawa customers. To do this, they work to install and maintain overhead and underground infrastructure such as transformers. When your power goes out, powerline technicians are the ones that come to the rescue, working hard to troubleshoot, diagnose and restore power as soon as possible.

Station technicians

Station technicians play a critical role in the development and maintenance of electric substations. Substations accept high voltage energy and are designed to step that energy down to a more manageable voltage to distribute to surrounding homes and businesses within our community. Station technicians work hard, performing routine maintenance, to ensure that substation equipment and wiring is running smoothly and safely at all times.

It truly takes an elaborate network of talented and dedicated individuals to make it possible to power our city. As we face a time of crisis, across not only our city but the world, we applaud all of the workers behind the scenes working hard and persevering to keep the electricity system as a whole working the way that it should.

To learn even more about the people behind electricity at Hydro Ottawa, check out part 2 of this series.

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