PJM Seminar Keeps Operators and Dispatchers Current on the Grid

PJM’s State and Member Training department is currently holding its 38th annual Operator Seminar for system operators from member companies. The event keeps generation and transmission dispatchers and operators current on PJM and industry changes and satisfies certification requirements.

The four-day seminars are held at three locations over nine weeks. The first three weeks were at PJM’s headquarters in Valley Forge, Pa., followed by three weeks in Cleveland and three in Arlington, Va.

Each four-day session is filled to capacity with 95 operators attending each week’s session (a total of 850 operators from 74 companies for the nine weeks). The week includes lectures and interactive exercises with hands-on simulations.

PJM uses three simulators in the training, each with its own function.

The PJM day-ahead simulator deals with markets, and the Electric Power Research Institute simulator trains for system restoration after a catastrophe. The third simulator, PowerWorld, operates like a video game, recreating real-time scenarios.

“PowerWorld gives us a big picture,” said Mike Sitarchyk, manager – State and Member Training. “It compresses the day into a half-hour. The operators get a lot thrown at them in a short amount of time.”

PJM designs the training program with an eye toward operator needs. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation then looks at it to ensure it meets NERC’s continuing education requirements.

Operators need 140 continuing education hours over a three-year period for PJM certification and 200 hours for NERC certification. The accreditation process requires an operator have 30 hours of simulation experience.

New this year is an orientation for new operators. On the first day of each week’s seminar, new operators work with instructors on navigation and simulation exercises on the PowerWorld and EPRI software.

The seminar is part of a larger training program, which includes continuing education videos available through PJM’s Learning Management System. The system allows operators to refresh their skills and acquire new ones in the 24/7 work environment.