Trading Knowledge


Capturing institutional knowledge in underground and overhead systems

BY MATTHEW OLEARCZYK, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)

Power cables in underground power systems are not the only aging assets in the electric power industry. It’s the electric utility aging workforce (that is, more than 200,000 line workers, technicians, plant operators, and engineers) that are aging, too. Moreover, when the most critical of these workers retire or otherwise leave the industry, in some cases, their knowledge and experience is lost.

This loss of institutional knowledge grows in concern as the industry continues to adopt more-sophisticated equipment and operating practices, including but not limited to widespread smart grid adoption. Moreover, there is evidence that the pool of qualified entry-level power engineers may not keep up with industry needs. This human crisis may be one of the most serious that the industry faces.

Nevertheless, as the Underground Distribution Channel in this issue of Electricity Today Magazine explains, collaborations between utilities, universities, government, research firms such as the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and others are beginning to address this issue by capturing institutional memory, and by capitalizing on innovative training methods and other creative solutions.

Read the full article in our digital magazine