Career summary

Details for Power Plant Operators


Description

Control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.

Tasks

  • Adjust controls to generate specified electrical power or to regulate the flow of power between generating stations and substations.
  • Monitor power plant equipment and indicators to detect evidence of operating problems.
  • Control generator output to match the phase, frequency, or voltage of electricity supplied to panels.
  • Control or maintain auxiliary equipment, such as pumps, fans, compressors, condensers, feedwater heaters, filters, or chlorinators, to supply water, fuel, lubricants, air, or auxiliary power.
  • Control power generating equipment, including boilers, turbines, generators, or reactors, using control boards or semi-automatic equipment.
  • Start or stop generators, auxiliary pumping equipment, turbines, or other power plant equipment as necessary.
  • Open and close valves and switches in sequence to start or shut down auxiliary units.
  • Communicate with systems operators to regulate and coordinate line voltages and transmission loads and frequencies.
  • Inspect records or log book entries or communicate with plant personnel to assess equipment operating status.
  • Regulate equipment operations and conditions, such as water levels, based on instrument data or from computers.
  • Take regulatory action, based on readings from charts, meters and gauges, at established intervals.
  • Record and compile operational data by completing and maintaining forms, logs, or reports.
  • Clean, lubricate, or maintain equipment, such as generators, turbines, pumps, or compressors, to prevent failure or deterioration.
  • Place standby emergency electrical generators on line in emergencies and monitor the temperature, output, and lubrication of the system.
  • Make adjustments or minor repairs, such as tightening leaking gland or pipe joints.
  • Operate, control, or monitor equipment, such as acid or gas carbon dioxide removal units, carbon dioxide compressors, or pipelines, to capture, store, or transport carbon dioxide exhaust.
  • Operate, control, or monitor gasifiers or related equipment, such as coolers, water quenches, water gas shifts reactors, or sulfur recovery units, to produce syngas or electricity from coal.
  • Operate, control, or monitor integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) or related equipment, such as air separation units, to generate electricity from coal.
  • Operate or maintain distributed power generation equipment, including fuel cells or microturbines, to produce energy on-site for manufacturing or other commercial purposes.
  • Examine and test electrical power distribution machinery and equipment, using testing devices.
  • Receive outage calls and request necessary personnel during power outages or emergencies.
  • Replenish electrolytes in batteries and oil in voltage transformers, and reset tripped electric relays.
  • Collect oil, water, or electrolyte samples for laboratory analysis.
  • Inspect thermal barrier coatings on integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) equipment for sintering, phase destabilization, or temperature variances to ensure compliance with standards and insulation efficiency.

Interests

  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Education, training, experience

  • Education - These occupations usually require a high school diploma.
  • Training - Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
  • Experience - Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.

Knowledge

  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

Skills

  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

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