System operations comprises an aging work force, and as experienced people leave the industry, their knowledge and experience leaves with them and that has a huge impact on the grid, according to Linda Perez. “This causes a large human performance gap that affects organizations large and small. The only way to close this knowledge gap is through training.”
Filling this gap is Perez through her role at SOS Intl: senior advisory services manager. She has more than 25 years of experience leading, facilitating, and supporting compliance operations and engineering efforts in large, grid-management system environments. Her efforts have focused on compliance issues in the power industry and helped facilitate a culture of compliance within organizations. Perez brings that experience to assisting SOS clients in building an effective compliance program.
T&D World discussed highlights of Perez’s training career and how much she has learned from students, as well as the importance of NERC compliance training to keep the lights on:
Q: How does your current position help you in training/compliance advising —and how does your past experience help you in this role?
As a Senior Advisory Services Manager for SOS Intl, I have the opportunity to interact with regulators, individual registered entities, and trainees. This helps me to bring real world experience to each engagement and training event.
I have over 30 years working in the utility business. I started my career designing gas and electric services for customers and moved into various roles including working rotating shifts as a system operator, designing and delivering training to office and field employees, managing operations organizations, and green fielding transmission operator’s centers and reliability coordination centers. I’ve also conducted compliance audits as well as participated in Operations & Planning and Critical Infrastructure Protection standards compliance audits. In addition, I have been an active participate in NERC and Regional committees and subcommittees.
Q: When and why did you decide to go into power systems training?
It was more fate than choice. I was working as a data entry billing clerk for Consumers Energy Company while attending college to be a registered nurse. An opportunity became available in the Engineering Department as a design technician. My supervisor as well as my peers encouraged me to apply, and the rest is history.
Q: Best thing about your job right now?
The ability to make organizations and individuals successful. Whether it is helping a person understand a particular learning objective, or providing advice to organizations on what processes will enhance their position of compliance - the job is always exciting and new. Each day is different and challenging.
Q: What courses and content have you trained/advised on in the past, and what’s coming up?
- Highlights of my training career include instruction in:
- NERC system operator certification prep for BA’s, TOP’s & RC’s
- Switching and tagging for distribution and transmission systems
- Transmission and distribution equipment identification
- System restoration using a dynamic training simulator
- Cyber infrastructure protection awareness
- Fundamentals of electricity
Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your past experience as a trainer/advisor that you want to communicate to trainers, students or participants?
The trainer ALWAYS learns the most! Students and participants bring their individual history to each training session which enables the trainer to experience different view-points regarding system dynamics. For example, grid operators from a 30,000 MW utility and a 300 MW utility may have a completely different response to a system disturbance, due to their size and potential for impacting or mitigating the event. These real life examples are great tools for the trainer to use when teaching system operations concepts.
Q: Why do you think your particular job as a trainer/advisor is important to the industry? How does it help the students and the utilities?
A well designed systematic training program can expose trainees to fundamentals, concepts, theories, events and system operations in an orderly manner. What took a system operator 20 years to learn through an unstructured on the job training program, can become standardized, sequenced, and presented in a more effective way. The pure beauty to structured training is that system operators don’t just blindly follow procedures when operating the system, they actually understand the reasons behind their actions and the impact of their choices. This enables future system operators to make decisions in our ever-changing, fluid environments that prevent rather than react to system disturbances.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time—do you see that as a complete escape or an extension of your career?
I spend as much time with my grandchildren as I can. I forgot how fun it was to swing or slide until I took my two-year-old granddaughter to the park! Children are an open book and they look at everything from unbiased perspectives. I try to remember that when I approach a training or compliance assignment. I don’t have all the answers, but together we come together to arrive at the best solution.
Q: Anything else you would like to add about your training/advising philosophy or that would add to your profile?
This is an exciting industry with lots of opportunities, whether it’s in the field, in management, or in advising services. We should all be proud that even in a dynamic regulatory environment, with the system often being stretched to its limits, we continue to keep the power flowing and the lights on.