Cypress Creek Renewables is one of the country's leading solar and storage companies. They develop and own projects, and provide O&M Services and Asset Management Services for owned and third-party assets.
As one of the largest and most experienced solar O&M providers in the country, there is no one better positioned to know what matters most to solar PV operators. We asked Julien Glover, Senior Manager of Control Center Operations for Cypress Creek, to share essential reporting metrics for solar PV SCADA operators.
1. Which reporting metrics matter most to solar PV operators?
Operators focus on what's happening in real time. In general, they need to know about plant and inverter level outages (both production and communication-wise), and they need to know about them as quickly as possible. Anything below the plant and inverter level is typically caught during a separate audit. Because solar PV plants produce a massive volume of data, it's important to limit the scope of what operators look at in real time.
Any metrics related to safety are always of utmost importance to solar PV operators. Operators must focus first on safety, followed by operational compliance, and then on plant performance metrics.
2. How do these metrics make solar PV operators’ jobs easier?
Knowing about issues quickly makes operators' jobs easier and more efficient. The faster operators can identify an issue, the faster they can troubleshoot and then fix, escalate, or pass it to the next responsible party as necessary.
The quality of information operators receive can determine how frustrating their job will be, and how quickly and effectively they can resolve issues.
3. What are some overlooked metrics operators should know about?
Overlooked metrics can include metrics that do not pertain to plant performance, but to operator performance. Operators can benefit from knowing their:
- Average call time
- Time to acknowledge an alarm
- Time to create a work order
This information isn't always useful in real time, because operators should not get caught up in their personal performance numbers while looking out for the safe operation of the plant. However, knowing this information over time can highlight opportunities for personal improvement. Operators may need to speed up their response time in some areas, or may actually need to slow down in response to other issues.
There are also more qualitative metrics for operators to explore, such as quality of log entries and work orders. Operators are responsible for providing information to other parties to make informed decisions. If that quality isn't there, a speedy operator response time doesn't matter. Someone down the line will have to spend more time solving the issue due to poor intel. Operators should know where they stand, where they need to improve, and how they’re doing beyond just checking boxes.
4. What factors determine which metrics are necessary? (PPA, ISO, Utility, etc.)
Again, safety metrics are of utmost importance to plant operators, owners, and third-party off-takers.
From an operational compliance perspective, the metrics may be driven by utility, ISO, or PPA requirements in terms of being able to report outages within a specified timeframe. The same can go for contractual requirements for third-party owners. For example, owners may require notification within a certain time frame at a certain failure level. On the performance side, operators may have general performance targets to hit as far as fleet availability and weather-adjusted production.
5. Are there internal metrics O&M providers and owners can use to measure operator workload and performance?
Knowing how operators are doing and what their workload is like can help O&M companies and site owners not only improve operator performance, but also make better business decisions.
Metrics tracking operator work volume include:
- Number of work orders
- Work order creation time
- Number of phone calls
- Time spent on phone calls
- Alarm response time
It's important to monitor operator overtime and workload. This can help determine if there is an understaffing issue. It can also help your team determine if operators are handling too many facilities (on the transmission side) or too many megawatts (on the DG side).
It's also important to track operator performance and professional development. At Cypress Creek, we continually work to develop our operators with robust training programs and platforms. Some examples of what we keep track of are:
- Safety issues operators actively identify
- Progress on training and individual qualifications
Solar PV Operations Training Helps Operators Succeed
Nor-Cal's 3-day Operator Fundamentals course offers a deep dive into operator fundamentals as they pertain to SCADA systems. The training is system agnostic, meaning the principles and topics apply to any SCADA system hardware and software.
Graduates will understand the "big picture" as it applies to solar PV plant operations within the utility-scale sector. By understanding the workings of SCADA systems inside and out, operators can truly take ownership of their projects post-commissioning and during the operational phase.
Contact us today to schedule an upcoming class, or learn more on our training page.