Is the Grid on Autopilot?

Is the Grid on Autopilot

Can the electric grid operate without people? PCS Vice President & Managing Partner, Francis Esselman, recently shared a conversation he had regarding the current pandemic and his thoughts about the individuals that are working 24/7 to keep the electric grid safe, secure, and reliable. We thought it was important to share this with the industry in support of all the individuals who contribute to this daily effort. Below is a post from Francis regarding his conversation.

I was recently discussing the pandemic with my neighbor when he posed a question that got me thinking. Our conversation was a normal, neighborly chat, and because he knows I provide consulting services to the utility industry, he asked about the effect of Covid-19 on the electric grid. As the conversation went on, he eventually asked, “The electric system is pretty much on autopilot, isn’t it?”

I wanted to explain how complicated the electric delivery system is and how, although challenged by the situation, thousands of utility employees continue to make sure he has power for his home and the businesses he relies on. Thinking better of it, I replied that we should talk about that over a beer sometime.

As I left, his question resonated. Autopilot? That’s an interesting concept, but unfortunately, there’s no such switch to throw when it comes to the perpetual delivery of electricity, gas, and other utilities that are used by hundreds of millions of people in the world!

For the past several months we’ve been reminded on a daily basis about the efforts of many who continue to provide services and products during this crisis. Like you, I am grateful and very appreciative of the healthcare workers, police, firefighters, and grocery store workers, as well as many other essential workers who have provided the care and necessities that are critical to our day-to-day lives. But, I find it is less often that we see expressions of recognition and thanks for the utility workers that continue to build, maintain, and operate the gas, electric, and communication systems that are needed by everyone, especially those deemed as essential.

Utility workers, whether they are managers, engineers, technicians, line crews and field personnel, operators, and all of the support staff, are still building, repairing, maintaining, and operating the grid and other infrastructure. They continue to operate the fuel supplies, generation resources, control centers, and all equipment that requires human input, including what is required around the clock every day.

Those that are planning and designing generation plants, solar farms, wind farms, battery storage, gas lines, and transmission/distribution facilities are hard at it and although some of the work can be done remotely, you can be confident that it is getting done!

When a storm comes through, a car hits a pole, or a forest fire rages near power lines, please rest assured there will be a response from those dedicated employees that are managing and operating that infrastructure, and there is no autopilot switch for that!

Special thanks to all the utility employees! Thank you for keeping the lights on, the gas, the phones, and the rest up and running. Thanks for being the “Autopilot”!!

Proven Compliance Solutions Inc. (PCS) provides NERC Reliability Standards compliance consulting services that cover all aspects of the Operations & Planning Standards and the Critical Infrastructure Protection Standards. For more information about PCS and the services we offer, please visit our website at


More Posts