Power System Dispatcher

DESCRIPTION
Power dispatchers are responsible for the control of the flow of electricity through transmission lines to customers. Power dispatchers control and monitor a variety of power distribution equipment. They are responsible for collecting data and recording important operating information that helps in the control of the flow of distributed electricity. Operators must have good computer skills in addition to accurate data collection, documentation and record-keeping skills.

Dispatchers must anticipate the energy needs of customers and try to accurately forecast the power generation output that will be needed.

Power dispatchers communicate with other dispatchers, operators, and other energy stakeholders to ensure the safe and adequate distribution of power from generating plants to customers. Dispatchers must be familiar with regulatory standards to ensure that their plant operations are in accordance with associated regulations.

Power plant dispatchers spend most of their time working in a control room. Even though it is not typically a very physically demanding job, dispatchers must remain very alert to be ready for any system problems that might arise. Since supplying electrical power is a 24-hour job, dispatchers usually work on a continuous basis in rotating shifts.

Many states require power dispatchers to hold special licensure or certification. Operators are required to attend continuing education courses to maintain their licenses.

EMPLOYERS
Utility companies, electric power generating plants, private contractors.

EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS
Employers may only require a high school diploma along with an established minimum level of technical knowledge and experience.

Most dispatchers have attended career or technical school or have participated in extensive on-the-job training or apprenticeships. An associate degree or bachelor’s degree might be required by some companies.

LINKS TO CAREER/INDUSTRY RESOURCES
Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers Career Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug9QtgaRplo
Get into Energy Career Profile: Plant Operator: http://getintoenergy.com/plant-operator/
American Public Power Association: https://www.publicpower.org/
O*NET Online: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/51-8012.00
North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC): https://www.nerc.com/Pages/default.aspx

Photos courtesy Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

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