Smart Grid

September 30, 2013

Smart Grid Will Bring More Jobs, Utilities Promise

As technology in the utilities world advances, many employees, like meter readers, have been in fear of losing their jobs. They feel their prospects were dim due to meters that can read themselves and communicate instantly with offices. Representatives from two large Midwestern Utilities recently promised that there would continue to be meter readers and other new positions from the smart grid.

Kathleen Thigpen, senior training specialist at ComEd, says, “For the most part our meter readers aren’t under threat of being summarily dismissed. We try to keep them in the house. Some meter readers will be trained in AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure). Others are already on a track in which they start as meter readers and transition to jobs as line engineers or substation engineers. And then there’s also a population that we do encourage through reimbursement to retool and reskill yourself so that you can apply for another job throughout the enterprise."

More than 6,000 people are employed by ComEd in the Chicago area.

Another company, Ameren, says that no meter readers will be forced out by the company. Ameren provides energy to most of the rest of Illinois, as well as parts of Missouri, and employs nearly 9,000.

Ameron's (News - Alert) Illinois Project Manager for Smartgrid Technology, Mike Abba, explains, “As we deploy AMI over an 8-year period or so, through attrition, through reassignment, through transitioning, we will have a home for all of those or they’ll retire. We’re not going to force them out. A lot of them in the next six to eight years will reach retirement age and will naturally retire and the rest of them we’ll find a home for them somewhere.”

Abba has identified four areas where the smart grid will most likely create jobs.

  1. The installation of the smart grid will create jobs for technicians.
  2. As the need for technicians grows so does the need for relay technicians and communications technicians.
  3. The smart grid's advanced technology creates new positions in cyber security.
  4. There will also be a growing need “behind-the-grid” jobs for solar and wind installers.

Smart grid technology has opened up an opportunity for new kinds of professions and positions to be created. The industry is sees new tasks in old jobs and new jobs coming soon.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey