Transmission Planning Engineer
Challenges and Opportunities Facing the VELCO Transmission System Planner
For those energy planning engineers committed to making a difference, to serving as a key leader on a team tackling the defining energy challenge of our time, look to VELCO and Vermont.
Vermont has taken bold action to reduce greenhouse gases. The total nameplate capacity of Vermont generators is nearly 100% renewable. Wind generation nameplate capacity accounts for about 15% of the summer peak; large-scale solar PV accounts for 2%, with several other projects in the interconnection queue; landfill gas and biomass generation accounts for about 8%; hydro generation accounts for about 15%. The fastest growing technology is small-scale distribution-connected generation, which equals nearly 50% of the summer peak, the vast majority of which is solar PV generation.
Energy efficiency continues to be a critical resource accounting for about 12% of supply at the summer peak, as seen in tab 5.2 of the ISO-NE forecast report. Vermont continues to be a leader with respect to load control with demand response accounting for 5% of the summer peak. Small-scale storage is growing quickly, and is currently at about 5% of the summer peak. As we have noted in our most recent long-range plan analysis, the electrification of transportation and heating is expected to almost double the peak demand over the next twenty years. Serving such a load reliably will require not only additional transmission, but also the utilization of load control strategies, including load shifting, vehicle to grid, and storage.
VELCO is coordinating with its affiliated distribution utilities to gain a better understanding of controllable loads and DER, and develop load control strategies. VELCO is extending its fiber optic network to access production data from DG as small as 150 kW connected to distribution feeders. VELCO initiated a project to develop a database and a DER management framework to orchestrate controllable loads and DER to reduce greenhouse gas and energy cost. VELCO is helping the distribution utilities modernize their distribution systems to gain more visibility of DER. VELCO is partnering with the University of Vermont, the distribution utilities and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to test DER control strategies. One of the use cases will help us understand how to adjust under-frequency load shedding schemes depending on the amount DG operating in real-time.
Vermont policy makers are not resting on their laurels. New bold initiatives were recommended in the latest Climate Action Plan and Comprehensive Energy Plan. The legislators are considering doubling the amount of DG requirements to twenty percent of energy sales, which would lead to over 1250 MW of DG if the preferred technology continues to be solar PV. Vermont is also considering establishing a clean heat standard, which would accelerate the adoption of cold climate heat pumps. Renewable energy advocates, such as ANR, REV, and others, are urging the legislators to do more at a faster pace given the impacts of climate change and the falling behind on reaching our greenhouse gas reduction targets. It is very likely these discussions will lead, at a minimum, to greater incentives for electric vehicles and heat pumps.
What is certain is that Vermont’s electric grid needs to evolve to not only facilitate the adoption of renewable energy, both supply and load, but also to do so in a way that leverages the capabilities of DER and controllable loads to maintain acceptable levels of reliability, as reliability standards evolve to take into account the challenges posed by integration of inverter-based resources, particularly DER. To that end, we constantly try to develop new planning tools and processes. Over the last ten years, we have partnered with IBM to develop weather forecast methods that account for renewable resources; we have developed a time-series power flow software with the help of the University of Vermont; we have helped Daymark Energy Advisors develop software to conduct planning under uncertainty. We have long realized we need to conduct analyses that consider several possible futures, and ensure that our decisions minimize regret and are structured in a way that allows us to change course with minimal stranded cost. This has been our fundamental challenge combined with the need for greater collaboration with our affiliated distribution utilities, regional planning commissions, the Department of Public Service, and other energy stakeholders.
Vermont grid uncertainties are magnified by regional and federal developments. The FERC is about to fundamentally change the way planning is conducted. VELCO agrees that a holistic approach, accounting for interconnection needs, renewable energy integration, reliability needs, and economic operation will lead to the best decisions over the long term. Vermont borders New York and Quebec, Canada with its provincial utility Hydro Québec (HQ). Vermont imports roughly 20% of its energy from HQ, which is looking to increase energy sales to neighbors. New York is looking to better integrate and increase renewable energy in northeast NY. The New England states, with its attendant coastline, are looking to develop a significant amount of off-shore wind generation, and increase imports from HQ. Vermont will have a role to play in facilitating the transfer of renewable energy to, through and among HQ, NY, and New England. We are starting to think about how to synthesize these renewable goals into a cost-effective, sustainable growth strategy.
The work is challenging. It doesn’t always bring a lot of glory. You need to be smart of course but also intuitive, innovative and motivated. Our state and this planet is a beautiful gift. Come join VELCO and helps us makes sure we as humans can stay.
The Senior Transmission Planning Engineer at VELCO is a trusted partner excited to help us realize our Vision to create a sustainable Vermont through our people, assets, relationships and operating model.
Why you should join our team
As VELCO’s Transmission Planning Engineer, you will develop and analyze transmission system improvement scenarios to maintain and improve the operation and reliability of the Vermont integrated transmission system as an integral part of the New England regional transmission system. The Transmission Planning Engineer will perform and document planning studies, such as load flow and stability studies, to ensure compliance with regional and national reliability standards. The individual will plan and conduct work requiring judgment in the evaluation, selection, and adaption or modification of standard techniques, procedures, and criteria.
This level builds on the skills of a practicing engineer capable of making competent engineering recommendations and decisions and managing technical projects with minimum level of oversight. It is typical for an individual to be in this job classification for a large part of their career.
How you will make an impact
The Transmission Planning Engineer is self-sufficient in developing and analyzing transmission system improvement scenarios to:
· enhance transfer capability
· integrate generation, electric demand and storage
· reduce losses
· simplify system operation, and
· improve the reliability, resilience, environmental sustainability and power quality of the Vermont integrated transmission system as an integral part of the New England regional transmission system.
The Transmission Planning Engineer will demonstrate sufficient talent and skills to make competent engineering recommendations and decisions, and manage projects with a minimum level of oversight. The Transmission Planning Engineer devises new approaches to problem solving, makes decisions and recommendations that are recognized as authoritative and have an important impact on extensive engineering and related activities of the company. It is expected that expertise in a majority of the systems and applications in a particular area of engineering has been developed in this classification.
Expectations are that the individual consistently demonstrates the knowledge to fully and competently complete engineering assignments by independently evaluating, selecting, and applying the appropriate techniques, procedures, templates, criteria, judgment, and change management processes. The individual should have an excellent understanding of a majority of the Planning systems and applications described in the Engineer job summary.
Will guide others in the performance of technical analyses of the transmission system, including related studies, such as evaluating transmission economics in support of the overall power delivery system.
Communicate in writing and verbally in a clear and effective manner with fellow engineers, management, other transmission utilities, system operators (ISO-NE, NYISO, etc.), members of the public and regulators.
Work collaboratively with other VELCO Departments and within study teams comprised of participating utilities and other affected/interested parties to develop solutions, including non-transmission alternatives, to system deficiencies.
Manage data organization and reporting to make valuable information available where needed in a comprehensive, coherent form.
Apply planning processes, procedures and standards for system model updates, system studies, reporting, and demonstrate compliance with planning standards.
Be a contributing member of the VELCO technical team, as well as provide technical information and advice, to ensure that the evaluation of system enhancements and other projects is performed with maximum efficiency and resource utilization. Contribute to the improvement of procedures and templates with an appreciation for succession planning and greater efficiencies within the department and the company.
The individual will have a solid understanding of a majority of the systems and applications outlined for the Engineer level. Expectations are that this individual is capable and willing to supervise or coordinate the work of less experienced engineers, cross-train other team members (including interns with the Manager of Planning) on a majority of the systems and applications described in the Engineer job summary.
Who you are
To thrive in this role, you must have BS in Electrical Engineering or related engineering field and experience in the same field with electrical system planning applications required. A Master’s Degree in Engineering or a specialized industry credential such as a Certificate in Power Systems Management, together with a history of sustained exceptional performance, is preferred.
Will demonstrate proficiency with electrical system planning tools, specifically PowerWorld, PSLF or PSS/E power flow and transient stability. A strong computer aptitude is a must. Critical thinking and complex problem solving skills as they relate to electrical system planning modeling as well as efficient programming skills in C variants, Python, Visual Basic, etc.) are requirements.
VELCO’s commitment to our employees
• Paid Time Off – Everyone needs time off to recharge. New employees are frontloaded with prorated time off dependent upon date of hire
• Sick Leave – We advocate for staying home when you are sick
• Paid Holidays – We observe 11 paid company holidays
• Medical – Select from two comprehensive health plans. Employees have access to a Health Savings Account and Flexible Spending Account. We allow documented Domestic Partners on our plans
• Dental & Vision – Offers a wide range of covered services
• Wellness Program – Allows you to receive reimbursement of approved wellness expenses
• Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – Aids with mental health, stress management, work-life balance, financial and legal matters, and much more
• 401K – We offer a very generous employer match and profit share contribution
• Short Term Incentive Bonus – VELCO proudly offers a yearly incentive bonus based on individual contributions and key performance indicators
• Life Insurance – VELCO paid life insurance and supplemental coverages are available
· Starting pay will be determined at the time of offer based on the experience, education, and training of the successful candidate.
· Eligible applicants must be authorized to work in the United States.
· Any offer of employment will be contingent upon successful reference check, background check, physical examination, drug screening, and documentation of Covid-19 vaccination
· VELCO utilizes a hybrid work schedule. Travel to the Rutland campus is expected at least twice per week
· VELCO is an Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran
The Fine Print
This role requires a proven ability to maintain strict adherence to procedures and policies designed to maintain reliability and safety in critical systems and to ensure planning is conducted consistently throughout New England. The ability to scope and review transmission projects, with proven ability to assess, develop and communicate model requirements is essential. Superior communication skills are critical as this role will interface directly with a variety of stakeholders. Self-motivation, innovation, and organization are essential.
Prolonged periods sitting at a desk and working on a computer.
Must be able to lift up to 15 pounds at times.
Must be able to travel to various meeting sites.