Power Systems/Transmission Engineer

Position TitlePower Systems/Transmission Engineer
Alternate Title(s)Electric Power Engineer, Electrical Interconnection Engineer, Electrical Design Engineer
Education & Training LevelAdvanced, Bachelors required, prefer graduate degree
Education & Training Level DescriptionPower Systems Engineers typically have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, but may also qualify for positions with a civil, industrial, mechanical, or construction management degree. Employers value practical experience, so graduates of cooperative engineering programs, in which students earn academic credit for structured work experience, are valuable. Certification as a professional engineer (PE) or the ability to achieve this certification may be required.
Brief job description A Power Systems Engineer may work for a wind owner/developer, turbine manufacturer, or electric utility. They may be responsible for evaluating interconnection standards and transmission feasibility, system impact and facility studies or testing new electrical components of wind turbine designs. Their responsibilities may also include working on transmission and/or distribution systems.
Preferred Level of EducationMaster's degree
Preferred Level of ExperienceSee the Bureau of Labor Statistics for more information.
Estimated/Expected SalarySee the Bureau of Labor Statistics for more information.
Job Profile

A Power Systems Engineer in the wind industry may be involved in a wide variety of activities in which they apply their power systems and transmission expertise. They may support the design and testing of wind turbines and the electrical components that power them or they may be involved in planning the layout of wind farms. They often lead the design of electrical substations, switchyards, underground and overhead cabling or communications systems for wind farm projects.

A Power Systems Engineer’s role in project development is to help the project developer and project manager determine optimal locations for the placement of wind farms. They manage, organize, and analyze interconnection studies, providing feedback and recommendations to project managers. As the project develops, electric power engineers lead or assist the developer in negotiating Large Generator Interconnection (LGIA) and Transmission Service Agreements (TSA). They are very familiar with regulations associated with interconnection and transmission service and will assist in this process as appropriate.

When working on a project, power systems engineers may also be responsible for designing the electrical transmission systems that transfer energy produced from the wind turbines, connecting it to the power grid. In accordance with transmission service agreements and power purchase agreements, they determine how many electrical substations are needed in order to properly transmit the correct amount of energy to a given number of customers. They also study existing power transmission systems to determine how they can best be expanded, and test power lines and transmission equipment to determine how they perform under specific conditions.

During construction, a Power Systems Engineer focuses on the design of the collection system, interconnection facilities and generator tie-lines and the implementation of that design.

Power systems engineers may also work for a utility. In this capacity, the engineer would assess the impacts of interconnection and validate interconnection protocols. They may be involved in analyzing existing power transmission systems from the point of interconnection to the utility, in order to develop solutions for increasing transmission capacity. Electric power engineers working for a utility will also test power lines and transmission equipment to determine how they perform under specific conditions, ensuring that the transmission systems are functioning properly and finding ways to improve the system. 

In summary, they typically do the following:

  • Provide power systems design and support to development and construction teams working on power plant projects
  • Design collection systems, including cable routing and cable sizing
  • Manage and perform system studies such as interconnection, power system or grounding system studies
  • Support the negotiation of LGIA and TSAs
  • Review interconnection standards, establish interconnection requirements and ensure compliance
  • Develop procurement specifications for substation, transmission line and other subcontracts
  • Develop specifications for interconnection switchyard and wind plant substation including transformers, breakers, and power factor correction equipment
  • Prepare drawings of grid interconnection and collection system for interconnection applications
  • Collect system data from client, utility, suppliers, and subcontractors for system modeling.
  • Optimize power transmission systems
  • Ensure construction and interconnection protocols have been met.
Job Skills
  • Detail oriented. They design and develop complex electrical systems and electronic components and products. They must keep track of multiple design elements and technical characteristics or requirements during these processes.
  • Math skills. They use the principals of calculus and other advanced topics in mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.
  • Communication skills. They work closely with other engineers and technicians. They must be able to clearly explain their designs and reasoning and to relay instructions during product development, production and construction. They may also need to explain complex issues to customers who have little or no technical expertise. Additionally, they may need to review and be involved in contract negotiations.
  • Project management. When designing or implementing, a power system design or other project, these engineers must be able to manage the various aspects of the project in order to complete the tasks on schedule and within budget. Where applicable, Power Systems Engineers must be able to monitor and evaluate the work at the job site as a project progresses.  
  • Writing skills. Power Systems Engineers must have good technical writing skills. They write reports and summaries on the interconnection studies they manage, contribute to standards development, prepare specifications and requirement documents, and provide status reports on projects. The findings and specifications identified in these reports and other documents need to be easily understood by individuals from technical and non-technical backgrounds.
  • Leadership skills. Power Systems Engineers play a significant role in driving innovations and successfully implementing projects. They often support managers with project planning as well as lead teams from various technical backgrounds such as other engineers, surveyors, construction managers, or technicians.

In addition to these skills, an electric power engineer should also be familiar with the following:

  • ERCOT and other Grid Code
  • Standards and compliance strategies for projects
  • Contract terms, discrepancies and negotiation process
  • Construction process, where applicable.
Resources

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Power Systems and Transmission Engineer

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