Chuck Johansen: Searching for Truth

Aug. 15, 2013
Chuck Johansens’ decision to leave line work many years ago and transfer to system operations was the beginning of a life-long search for truth.

Chuck Johansens’ decision to leave line work many years ago and transfer to system operations was the beginning of a life-long search for truth.

Johansen has more than 35 years of electric utility experience, and in his quest, he has been the driving force of custom training in the areas of emergency preparedness, restoration, switching and tagging, and mitigation.

“The emotional and civil unrest of the 60s and 70s was a great influence [in my career decisions]. Suffice it to say, sometimes we realize that inner peace only comes from following the heart and living according to what we truly believe in,” Johansen said. “Along the way there have been discoveries such as realizing that sharing information with neophyte operators and watching them grow in understanding and operating ability brings with it a sense of contentment and satisfaction. So, sharing experiences allows us all to grow. And the journey continues.”

Johansen is lead trainer at SOS Intl and participates in instructor-led instruction and the development of customer training. He instructs courses such as Principles for System Reliability and Strategic Team Awareness and Response. He is a certified in Project Management for Trainers.

He has coordinated and delivered a custom strategic awareness and response seminar at the American Power Dispatchers Association (APDA) conference for more than 100 operators. He has written a customer training template for how to develop custom blackstart and system restoration training with use of a simulator. Johansen has also developed training for an industry transition into a deregulated market-based system as a result of FERC orders 888 & 889.

“System operations is composed of many different disciplines: electrical engineers; planners; field personnel; operators; telecommunications technicians; EMS staff; customer service representatives; and dispatchers. We all take part in operating one of the most complex systems: simply to keep the lights on. We all share in the responsibilities and lean on each other to make the system work, especially in times of trouble,” Johansen said. “We are here to serve the greater good and supply the growing demand for reliable power. It is up to us to understand all of the system components, how they work, and why they work. Then, we are expected to perform mitigating actions and solve complex problems.”

Johansen’s role as training lead includes diverse responsibilities. As facilitator, he believes most important is being able to share operating experiences with other power system operators who participate in the courses. “Being able to relate and share the ‘war stories’ while operating in the control room has a tendency to shift the focus of discussion from the individual to the experiences--the experiences that most of us have in common,” he said. “System operators who have lived through the trials and tribulations and experienced the emotional anxieties of decision making (both good and not so good) during extreme system events sense the comradeship and support from the rest of the group.”

Johansen does have his own experiences and lessons to share in class. Before joining SOS, he served as the Program Developer & Trainer and System Operator for New York State Electric and Gas as well as dispatcher trainer at the New York Independent System Operator, delivering classes in voltage, thermal, contingencies, blackout and emergency preparedness and response. He tells course participants to “nevergive up on searching for or building a better mouse trap. A team of operators can always find better solutions as long as there is a constant search for the truth, honesty, and respect for each other.”

Johansen continues to enjoy his role at SOS Intl citing the opportunity to share in the support of all the folks who work at SOS. “And this is not cliché. They are a supportive group of people who go out of their way to help each other. We are truly blessed with a very diverse and caring staff. Also, being given the freedom to be creative and innovative is part of that support.”

And Johansen couldn’t leave out what he enjoys about SOS clients. “They are among the most professional and competent operators I’ve had the opportunity to meet.  We all learn from one another and grow in the process.”  

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