DSO training: preparing operators for a complex future
June 13, 2022

John O’Hehir & Dale Irwin

The increasing sophistication of electric service delivery for commercial, industrial and residential needs is placing more demands on Distribution System Operators (DSOs) to identify interruptions, isolate damage and restore electric service. New applications and systems have been developed to aid the DSO in rapidly identifying disturbances and sectionalizing faults through Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) or other SCADA options.

The modern DSO is expected to provide updated restoration information, prioritize response to outages, provide accurate data to expedite repairs and notify the required agencies.

This new era of energy management makes having the right skills and training to understand and manage rapidly occurring events essential.

The DSO opportunity

The 21st-century energy industry comes with many new challenges and opportunities. The need for qualified DSOs who understand the expectations of today’s power supply services is higher than ever. According to the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently more than 9,500 power distributors and dispatchers in the US. This need for highly trained and qualified DSOs increases as electricity customers’ demands increase.

DSOs need solid, comprehensive training to administer the advanced control room software and tools that enable utilities to provide stable, efficient, clean energy with the continuity of safe, reliable and economical electric service.

Increased safety

  • DSO training increases safety for field personnel by providing accurate blocking and tagging when parts of the system need to be de-energized and re-energized for routine work or emergency repairs.

  • During an outage or an emergency situation, DSOs work quickly to restore power. Training prepares operators to prioritize restoring critical services to our infrastructure and ensuring the safety of those most vulnerable when the power is interrupted.

Keeping energy grids reliable and economical

  • Learning and implementing industry best practices helps to maintain a steady, reliable supply of power and protects the businesses and individuals who depend on it.
  • Understanding how to maintain and monitor equipment safety increases system availability during both normal and emergency conditions.
  • DSOs who possess a working knowledge of the principles of efficient system operation contribute to the electric utility’s ability to provide more cost-effective services for end-users.

Career advancement

  • Trained dispatchers are more proficient at real-time problem solving, adapting as the industry evolves, and addressing new challenges that arise.
  • Dispatchers must be prepared to pass rigorous government certification exams.
  • DSO training is an investment that allows for rewarding career advancement possibilities.

Building 21st-century skills with PSC

PSC has been a specialist consulting company to the electric energy industry for over 27 years. Our global reach allows us to draw upon experience from many areas of the world, and now specifically here in the USA. We are a vendor-neutral consultancy and can complement most utilities existing training programs with our expert-level operations staff.

Using real-world simulations and instructor-led training, we can deliver a comprehensive learning experience around topics including:

  1. Classroom training for Operators as requested by our clients – such as but not limited to
    • Distribution Basic Operations
    • Basic Electric Theory for Operators/Power Dispatchers
    • Use of Outage Management Systems and tools
    • Distribution Automation Equipment
    • Voltage Control
    • Contingency Analysis and Control
    • Generation Scheduling and Control
    • Distribution blocking and tagging for worker safety clearances
    • Distribution outage restoration, voltage control, and load shedding
  1. Proper control room communication skills and practices
  2. Detailed instruction for emergency operations and system restoration.
  3. Designing and building EMS/DMS one-line line diagrams. (Also, in validating such diagrams if they are converted between vendors during system upgrades or replacements. This includes validating database links following conversion or enhancement modifications.)
  4. System protection relay schemes and relay operation interpretation for substations
  5. Scenario development and delivery for operator training simulators – OTS and DTS systems – and generation simulator systems
  6. Operational procedure writing and development
  7. Record keeping for client and regulatory requirements
  8. Electric Blackstart restoration techniques and methods, including load pickup factors, critical load identification and voltage control
  9. EMS and SCADA point-to-point head-end testing with client field personnel, using NERC COM-002 and NERC COM-001 protocols and requirements for proper compliance
  10. Workshops to prepare for the introduction of new front end comms facilities and scheduling/planning resources for conducting various system checkout and field testing functions of same

Your future-ready dispatcher workforce starts with PSC

Contact us today to discuss your operator training needs and find out how PSC will collaborate with you to support your mission-critical service offerings.