A day in the life of...a Power System Operations Controller

An Le

PSO Controller

What’s a typical day as a Power System Operations (PSO) Controller?

I am part of the National Electricity Market Real Time Operations team that manages the real-time power system and wholesale electricity market across five NEM regions on a 24/7 basis. Our core role is to ensure the power system is secure, reliable and efficient. My typical 12-hour shift (either day or night) as a Controller would involve:

  • Hand-over – my shift always starts with a comprehensive handover from the previous shift when my colleague gives me a summary of what is currently happening around the system, and the system outlook for the next 12 hours.
  • Managing the real-time power system and wholesale electricity market for the designated regions – this involves performing dispatch, voltage and security functions in real time, managing outages, and responding to incidents. I use a range of Power System and Market Analysis applications and work with the support of my shift partners and shift manager, and in coordination with relevant transmission network service providers (TNSPs) and generators.
  • Outage planning for the next day – we perform analysis and provide an indication of “Likely to Proceed” for outages planned on the next day.
  • Hand-over – my shift concludes with another hand-over when I brief the incoming team with critical information.
My career at AEMO so far?

I have been with AEMO (and its predecessor organisation) for more than 13 years. I started as a Support Engineer in the System Operations and Performance team, where our main responsibilities concentrated on medium-term forecasting and planning. I then went on a nine-month rotation with the Market Operations team where I learned how to investigate and produce pricing event reports. In 2015, I joined the Operations Planning team, where I was mainly responsible for managing various short-term operational aspects of the Queensland and Tasmania regions. When the position came up with the NEM Real Time Operations team in Brisbane three years ago, I took the opportunity to join the team and have been loving it.

What have you learned so far in your role?

Clear, concise and accurate communications – this is vital in my role, especially when we coordinate a response to an incident.

Keep calm and prioritise my tasks – it can get very busy in the control room, and prioritising the tasks at hand helps me focus on the important jobs and be more efficient.

Value teamwork and knowledge sharing – we are all working together towards a common goal and each of us has skills that complement each other.

What is the best thing about working at AEMO?

Definitely the people I get to work with. Joining the company fresh out from university, I have had the privilege of working with many knowledgeable and talented people who have taught and guided me along the way and got me to where I am.

I also enjoy having a job where no two days are the same. The different challenges we face each day keep the work interesting.

What are you most looking forward to at AEMO?

I am excited to be part of the frontline team that operates today’s energy system to keep the lights on, while we continue changing and adapting the way we operate to accommodate the energy transition.

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