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CoServ's system operators make fast-paced decisions for safety and reliability

By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ

Anytime CoServ electric linemen work on a high-voltage line, they gear up with proper PPE (personal protective equipment), including insulated gloves and sleeves.

But most importantly, the job requires precise coordination with someone who can see the bigger picture, like which way the power is flowing, how it can be rerouted to restore power to as many people as possible, which lines are energized, and which are not.

At CoServ, this job belongs to the System Operators in the dispatch center at the headquarters in Corinth.

The linemen trust them with their lives every day.

These unsung heroes are there 24 hours a day, seven days a week watching over the CoServ electrical system. They are busiest when there’s a thunderstorm or other types of outages, but they play a critical role every day while there’s system maintenance, construction or other routine work going on.

They monitor multiple screens at a time including electricity demand for CoServ, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, weather forecasts, and the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system that acts as the nervous system for CoServ’s electrical infrastructure system.

“The decisions we make here affect lives out there. You sometimes have to be able to make split-second informed decisions and you want to make sure before you do anything on SCADA or tell someone something in the field that you’re right,” said Robert Shelby, one of CoServ’s senior Distribution System Operators.

This is why when there’s an outage, CoServ makes it a priority to restore power as safely and quickly as possible – it’s not worth risking property damage, injury or worse by trying to save a few minutes on an outage.

That’s especially true if CoServ has multiple crews working on different sections of the same circuit. Before they reenergize the line, System Operations notifies every single lineman – with no shortcuts or exceptions – to make sure everyone is down and in the clear.

The more routine work includes adding more load to our constantly growing system and ensuring circuits aren’t overloaded, and if they are, rerouting power to balance the system.

Though CoServ’s linemen are visible in the community and should receive appreciation for the difficult and dangerous work they do, they couldn’t do their jobs without the air traffic controllers of electricity.

“I have to see where it’s coming from, where it’s going if it is safely getting there and, if something happens, how I can help to restore or reroute power with our technology and our guys in the field,” said Jeremy Stephens, System Operations Supervisor.

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