Equipping the Workforce to Manage Smart Grid Technologies
A comprehensive assessment highlights the workforce impact and guides strategies for introducing new competencies.
Date : August 27, 2015

Southern California Edison, the largest subsidiary of Edison International, is the primary electricity supply company for much of Southern California, USA.

Los Angeles
Understanding impact

To support its smart-grid  transformation plan, Southern California Edison (“SCE”) established the Irvine Smart Grid Demonstration (“ISGD”) project. This end-to-end demonstration of a group of new technologies tested interoperability and effectiveness of key elements of the electric grid—from transmission through the distribution system and into customer premises.

As part of this effort, SCE wanted to:

  • Evaluate the potential organizational impacts associated with system-wide deployment and adoption of ISGD technologies
  • Identify the types of workforce competencies necessary to support successful deployment

For assistance, the utility asked West Monroe Partners to perform:

  • An organizational assessment
  • A workforce competency assessment
  • A scenario risk analysis of the impact of new smart grid technologies on the workforce

The utility recognized West Monroe Partners’ deep industry and domain knowledge and experience, as well as its strong track record for addressing the organizational aspects of smart grid transformation.

Enabling successful transformation

A West Monroe Partners team:

  • Studied the technologies involved
  • Conducted a front-line survey and numerous interviews
  • Analyzed key processes, job descriptions, training, and reporting documents and information
West Monroe Partners applied its Utility Workforce of the Future methodology, which outlines 12 skill sectors and associated competency levels required in a smart grid-enabled utility. Using this model as a basis, West Monroe Partners:  

  • Produced a “heat map” highlighting technology impact (high, medium, low) on SCE’s workforce
  • Offered high-level suggestions for organizational realignment
  • Developed a competency requirements model (knowledge, skills, and abilities) tailored to SCE
  • Developed unique job competency profiles for critical SCE roles that plan, build, and run the new technologies
  • Leveraged legacy systems to integrate new smart grid workforce competencies into current job descriptions and training systems
  • Outlined activities SCE could initiate and accelerate under various scenarios involving the pace and breadth of technology deployment

The Impact

SCE utilized the deliverables to evaluate the “people” dimension associated with implementing new smart grid technologies; a dimension that is often given less attention when assessing new technology. SCE utilized the competency model that was developed to re-shape several smart grid-related job descriptions, including new jobs that combined aspects of current job duties. The company also evaluated new supervisor, engineering and leadership roles to ensure that personnel have a new mix of skills and responsibilities compared to the traditional utility workforce.

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