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Grid Mod: New dynamic training tool prepares BPA staff for modern operations
2/18/2020 12:00 AM
Photo by Jun Deguzman
A new training program is equipping Power Services’ duty schedulers and real-time traders with the skills they need to address increased automation and other industry changes. The program is designed to offer faster, higher quality, more effective and efficient training for new staff, along with refresher training for existing staff on new or non-routine tasks. This will help staff quickly get up to speed and ensure smooth implementation of grid modernization projects or operations changes, such as the flexible spring spill requirement and the Western Energy Imbalance Market that BPA may join. The improved training program will lead to more cost-effective use of staff time and reduce human error, ultimately saving money for both BPA and its customers.
The project leveraged the existing structure of a successful training program in Transmission Operations and applied it to Power Services,” said Grid Modernization Director Steve Kerns. “This is an example of excellent one-BPA cross-agency collaboration that is critical for the successful execution of the grid modernization portfolio.”
Duty Scheduling consists of real-time hydro duty schedulers and Slice desk operators, while Real-Time Trading is comprised of hourly schedulers and marketers. These employees carry out Power Services’ mission to maximize the value of the Federal Columbia River Power System while meeting all of BPA’s high-priority operational objectives. Both groups work 12-hour shifts and ensure 24/7 coverage in the Duty Scheduling Centers at BPA’s headquarters. This new training program is designed to work in conjunction with on-the-job training that occurs in the Duty Scheduling Centers.
“The Power Services’ Training Program uses a systematic approach, which provides a consistent, measureable and repeatable training program for new hires, and cross-training of staff within Power Services,” said Sharon Blasingame, Duty Scheduling training specialist. “This will ensure staff are properly trained in order to successfully perform their job tasks.”
The main vehicle to implement the training program is a learning management system that allows training coordinators or supervisors to assign training topics and track training progress. It also allows trainees to track their own training progress and increases accountability. The system will evolve to offer a searchable resource library that will give staff access to self-guided learning opportunities at their fingertips.
It also provides additional functionality that allows for new content to be added and disseminated to employees, with the ability to test staff’s knowledge of industry changes and further adapt the material to each individual’s needs. The ability to assess knowledge retention will allow for targeted training adjustments and analysis on training effectiveness.
“The hydro duty schedulers’ training program has not had this significant of an effort since the early 1990s,” explains Duty Scheduler Tony Klement. “With new digital training and a learning management system, the constantly changing parameters of the work will be managed and incorporated, bringing value and clarity for years to come.”
The new system will enable succession planning and cross-training by eliminating silos of knowledge and the potential for single points of failure should a continuity of operations situation arise. This will help BPA preserve the reliability of the grid.
“The training program will be vital for BPA as we embrace internal and industry changes on the horizon,” said Alex Spain, Trading Floor manager and lead sponsor of the project. “The program is designed to keep staff current on the systems and business practice changes as they happen. The goal is to reduce training time, improve training effectiveness and to provide the trainees and trainers with a better training experience with quality material, defined training objectives, and quality reference material that staff and management can easily access in a well-designed learning management system.”
The training program will be agile and appropriately staffed with a dedicated training coordinator to ensure the program continues to evolve through time to address future training needs. “The program yields many improved training efficiencies, which translate to improved operations and corresponding financial outcomes, and reduced agency costs, meaning the savings can be passed on to customers,” Spain added.
The second phase of the project will prepare the schedulers, traders and planners who will be heavily involved in BPA’s EIM participation, in anticipation of a March 2022 go-live date. The new training program is expected to serve as Power’s primary vehicle for training staff on EIM participation duties. Having a standardized training program that better prepares staff to optimize river management and financial decision-making while ensuring reliable power delivery is a win-win, regardless of EIM participation.
The new training program is being used to onboard real-time schedulers and traders now, and content for the hydro duty schedulers and Slice desk operators is 50% complete. Training content for day-ahead trading and pricing and short-term planning is scheduled to be available at the end of the calendar year.
The Power Services Training Program is one of several grid modernization projects that support the implementation of BPA’s strategic goals to modernize federal power and transmission system operations and supporting technology, and to provide competitive power and transmission products and services. To learn more about the portfolio of projects or to see all that’s happening with grid modernization, click
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