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How Does That Work?

OPPD’s Energy Control Center

November 9, 2020 | Jason Kuiper | how does that work, OPPD employees, T&D
Interior of an energy control center

What is the Energy Control Center?

The Energy Control Center (ECC) is the hub of many daily and longer-term tasks OPPD does to ensure the optimal operation of its electrical transmission and distribution system.

When the power goes out in your neighborhood, ECC dispatchers send a troubleshooter to investigate the cause. When electrical equipment needs maintenance or repairs, schedulers at the ECC create the work order and reroute power to other circuits so the equipment can be isolated and de-energized. That way, personnel in the field can safely finish the work, impacting a minimal number of customers.

When system reliability issues arise, Transmission Operations works with the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), and others, to mitigate such conditions. And when a problem arises at one of OPPD’s more than 150 substations, ECC personnel monitor it and are responsible for resolving the issue and keeping the grid reliable.

Who works at the ECC?

The Energy Control Center is home to the OPPD’s Transmission Operations, Distribution Operations, and Energy Management System (EMS) Operations departments. Staffing is a mix of operators, engineers, planners and technicians. Support systems to manage and monitor the grid include the EMS and Outage Management System (OMS).

Real-time operations at the ECC include both distribution and transmission operations. Transmission Operations is responsible for monitoring the utility’s substations in real time. The group works to identify any alarms on the system and ensure overall system reliability.

Personnel are prepared for identified contingencies. Those contingencies number nearly 550 that the utility’s Energy Management System monitors, said Doug Peterchuck, manager of Transmission Operations. That way, OPPD can ensure reliability to the utility’s system and the region in general. The group also works with neighboring utilities and fellow members of SPP on grid reliability.

Distribution Operations manages smaller pockets of outages that may occur due to equipment failures, a bad cable, trees interfering with lines, or animals causing outages. This group manages repairs for these outages as they are requested or needed. They look to minimize the impacts of outages by isolating the issue through a system that involves switching. This process keeps more customers online when outages occur. This focus allows for an improved customer experience during said events.

The two groups work together in one central location to ensure maximum efficiency for OPPD’s customers.

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About Jason Kuiper

Jason Kuiper joined OPPD as a communications specialist in 2015. He is a former staff writer and reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, where he covered a wide range of topics but spent the majority of his career covering crime. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and has also appeared in several true crime documentary shows. In his free time he enjoys cooking, spending time with his wife and three children, and reading crime novels.

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