Utility System Operator

Job Description



The City of Palo Alto currently has three exciting opportunities in the Electric Operations Division.  The City is currently recruiting for three Utility System Operators in the division.    The Palo Alto Electric Operations division is recruiting for a Utility System Operator to assume the responsibility for operation of the City’s municipal utility system.  As the Utility System Operator, you will provide the primary centralized operating function for the City’s Utilities Operations requiring detailed knowledge of electric voltage regulation and load allocation. In addition to the primary responsibility for Operations, you will deal courteously with the public while assisting with complaints and coordinate switching with individual customers.    The selected candidate will be responsible for monitoring the status of the Utility’s electric, water & gas transmission and distribution systems through the use of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems (SCADA) meters and other equipment.  Additional functions will be to coordinate switching activities on transmission and distribution lines and substations with City personnel, customers and power suppliers; initiate and issue switching orders and clearances in accordance with operating procedures; maintain control of the electrical system and safely direct appropriate personnel and operate equipment to correct system problems and restore service during emergency conditions.  Communication skills are critical in providing detailed reports of system failures, disturbances and unusual conditions; maintaining accurate logs, system outage database and customer count databases; update the wall map, block maps and GIS maps. In this position, you will also provide training and guidance in switching and dispatching tasks, and perform other related work as assigned.  


Essential and other important responsibilities and duties may include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Issues emergency and routine switching orders based on loading limits of high voltage lines and other equipment; removal from and placement in service of transmission and distribution equipment. 
  • Issues clearances on electrical equipment and power lines for testing and other work; coordinates the activities of various units in placing equipment into service; maintains radio and phone contact with field units at all times, or makes frequent checks of SCADA for indication of system trouble and maintains wall map by placing and shifting colored and coded indicators.
  • Monitors the Water-Gas-Storm System SCADA and reports alarms to appropriate maintenance personnel (Turn off alarm and notify stand-by person only.)
  • Notifies appropriate personnel of reported problems to the City’s traffic signals, fiber optic and communications systems, and other equipment related to Traffic Signals department.
  • Reports alarms received on the Fiber Optic monitoring system to the Supervisor of Traffic Signals or the department standby person.
  • Updates wall maps and GIS (Geographical Information System) maps.
  • Assists customers with problems and complaints by determining and contacting appropriate authority to expedite solution; contacts industrial customers possessing sensitive testing equipment and computers prior to and after planned switching.
  • Completes and distributes outage reports; maintains system outage database, customers count database, and performs tasks for Utilities Field Office as requested.
  • Records in Operators Log all system operations, switching orders and subsequent issuance of clearance for work on the system; prepares various other operating reports.
  • Required to maintain an accurate and complete log of activities, including daily, semi-annual and annual outage information.
Related Functions:
  • Perform related duties and responsibilities as required.


The Minimum Qualifications required to be considered for this position are sufficient education, training and/or work experience to demonstrate possession of the knowledge, skills, and abilities which would typically be acquired through:
  • Graduation from high school.
  • Successful completion of a System Dispatch Training Program is desirable.
  • Three years of journey level experience with an electric utility: As a System Operator, or performing substation maintenance, or performing overhead line construction and maintenance and underground residential distribution (URD), or five years’ experience with an electric utility requiring knowledge of electrical transmission and distribution systems, equipment and operation.
  • Completion of a recognized, related apprenticeship and attainment of journey person status.

Special Requirements: 
  • Ability to work rotating shifts, including nights, holidays and weekends on a system operating 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
  • Freedom from color blindness.  Normal hearing.  May be required to work outside their regular business hours, to be available for emergency and/or additional work.  
  • Possession of a valid California Driver’s License and satisfactory driving record as a condition of initial and continued employment.


 The Ideal Candidate will have:  
  • A solid background in distribution operations.
  • A clear understanding of system relays.
  • Completed a training program attaining a journeyman status.
  • A strong background in electric theory.
  • Have computer skills and familiarity with SAP and Microsoft office.
  • Experience and ability to use a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System
  • Ability to communicate effectively with customers, crews, and the general public. 
  • Strong customer service skills and experience.
  • Ability to work rotating shifts, including nights, holidays and weekends on a system operating 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. 
  •   See Job Description for complete details of this position.   This is a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) position.   Candidates will be evaluated based on years of experience, utility experience, education, experience in Utility System Operations or similar operations, and general work experience. 


    Company Name:
    City of Palo Alto
    Approximate Salary:
    47.94 - 58.00 Per Hour
    Palo Alto, CALIFORNIA
    United States
    Lineman/Lineworker - Journey Level
    Position type:
    Full Time
    Experience level:
    Journey Level
    Education level:
    High School or equivalent
    Note: Some listings may also have apply info in the ad itself