Behind the scenes with our Distribution Control Centre teams part II

In the second part of our look at the SSEN distribution control centre for northern Scotland we meet Olivia Houston, to learn more about her role as technical support assistant.

The centre is integral to keeping the electricity flowing, so to minimise the number of key staff that are coming into contact with each other, there’s been quite a few changes, including re-locating some staff to a back-up centre.

Olivia explains more about these changes and how they are affecting her.

She said: “Everyone who can work at home is doing so, and I’m part of the team that has re-located to our back-up distribution control centre, which is located off-site and away from the rest of our colleagues.

“Just as our colleagues in the normal offices are, we’re doing all we can to keep ourselves and our colleagues safe at work. There’s now a lot more space between our individual workstations to maintain social distancing,  everything we're touching gets wiped down regularly, and we’re all washing our hands regularly.

“I’m proud to be part of a team that is playing such an important role in keeping the electricity flowing to the nation’s homes, businesses, our key workers and the NHS.”

As part of that Olivia also took time to explain a little more about her role.

She said: “I work alongside our control engineers, who not only monitor the network’s performance day-to-day, they can also remotely operate large parts of it to allow our colleagues in the field to safely carry out maintenance and upgrade works.

“I’m also involved in the programming, testing and commissioning of our tele-controlled plant, which allows our control engineers to respond quickly to faults on the network, restoring power to our customers as safely and as quickly as possible.”

Technology such as the tele-controlled plant makes a real difference on the rare occasions there is a power cut.

Olivia said: “In the past our field staff would have had to visit each section of the network to manually operate the switches and restore power, and while in some cases this is still needed, overall the tele-controlled plant has made such a difference to the service we are able to provide our customers.”

Olivia also works as part of the team responsible for maintaining the live high voltage network diagrams, which are an essential part of keeping everyone safe.

She said: “These provide a ‘real time’ overview of our network on the ground. By using these diagrams, our control engineers and teams out on site can all work together safely. When we turn the power off from the control room, because of these live diagrams, we can do so secure in the knowledge that our colleagues out in the field are able to start work on the network safely, as there will be no electricity going through that particular piece of kit."