Expert Grid Innovation Engineer
Requisition ID # 136173
Job Category: Engineering / Science
Job Level: Individual Contributor
Business Unit: Energy Policy & Procurement
Job Location: Oakland
Help us change the electric utility industry from the inside! Join a small, high-performing team within Pacific Gas & Electric Company that is scaling up distributed energy solutions to transform the electric grid from the edges inward. The Remote Grid team is a product vertical spun off from the Grid Innovation department, charting the future of the utility and the energy industry.
The Remote Grid team’s mission is to fight climate-driven wildfire risk using utility-grade, off-grid style microgrids. Specifically, the program deploys local, permanently islanded Standalone Power Systems (typically solar, batteries, and fuel-powered generation) as a full replacement for high-risk overhead or high-cost underground power lines to deliver energy 24/7/365 to utility customers. This radical form of utility service using remote microgrids is being rapidly developed through an ambitious “intrapreneurial” venture with the core focus of reducing wildfire risk for rural electric customers across Northern and Central California. The objective of the Remote Grid team is to validate and scale-up Remote Grid solutions as standard offerings in the utility toolkit. In addition to reducing wildfire risk, Remote Grids and other line elimination tools are a cost-effective solution to address rebuild, reliability and capacity needs for hard-to-reach customers. Currently PG&E has one operational SPS, with 4 units in construction and a pipeline aiming for a fleet of up to 20 units in the next 18-24 months.
This Expert Grid Innovation Engineer will primarily be supporting the design and deployment of Remote Grid projects as part of PG&E’s Remote Grid Program. Depending on skillset and background, Operations and Maintenance (O&M) and performance analytics of operating assets will be an additional key focus once familiar with design and deployment of the core product.
This individual will serve as the project engineer for multiple simultaneous Remote Grid projects, taking full ownership of the technical execution of each project to PG&E standards and developing new standards in the process. The engineer will draw on the vast network of expertise within PG&E and beyond, working in close collaboration with the growing engineering Community of Practice within the Remote Grid team to build the knowledge base of a new utility asset class. The Expert Grid Innovation Engineer will be a thought leader who builds the product vision and collaboratively architects & executes the technical roadmap.
A strong applicant will be an organized and diligent collaborator, proactively driving a broad range of technical and cross-functional tasks to deliver safe, reliable, high-quality Standalone Power System assets within schedule and budget targets. This execution-oriented candidate will collaborate with PG&E technical subject matter experts and external EPC vendors to execute pilot projects, serving as Project Engineer and technical approval authority on contractor deliverables. Project activities range across sales engineering during early development phases and transitioning into owner’s engineer activities in EPC vendor selection, detailed design, construction, commissioning, and release to operations. Once SPS are operational, the Engineer will assist in oversight of asset performance and O&M contractor activities.
This position has the option to be based out of PG&E’s new General Office complex in downtown Oakland, CA or may be based from another work location in PG&E’s service territory. The team has a hybrid work model primarily working remotely. In-person activities will focus on synchronous collaboration, affinity building, ideation, or planning activities. Most day-to-day work (individual and collaborative) will be performed from a home office. The role will also require travel to the field sites throughout the PG&E service territory.
Planning & Development for early stage Remote Grid projects:
- Load data gathering, desktop site assessment & site walk downs
- Preliminary energy and power capacity modeling, sizing & equipment layouts
- Rapidly iterate designs in lock step with active customer dialogs to shape concepts to meet customer needs, managing contributions from microgrid design contractors
Design & Construction for late stage Remote Grid projects:
- Develop technical requirements for RFP packages and evaluate EPC bidder proposals
- Support review of awarded EPC vendor submittals to specification such as plan sets, models, equipment specifications, and test reports
- Become fluent in vendor product configurations for PV panels, inverters, controllers, generators, generator controllers, Automatic Transfer Switches, protective relay packages, switchgear, and other components as needed
- Oversee operational Go-Live and testing activities such as factory, commissioning, functional & performance testing
- Support PG&E performed technical scope such as distribution & service facilities, protection & coordination studies, and relay witness testing
- Lead training of stakeholders involved in Remote Grid Operations
Refinement of deployment processes:
- Capture quantitative and qualitative learnings from SPS installation project experience, identifying improvement opportunities for specifications and standards
- Build an informed technical opinion for system design choices, defending that opinion with a clear rationale and changing it when the data supports
- Develop and improve project engineering processes and tools for safety, quality, & speed
- Develop PG&E processes and procedures as the RG program evolves from “Pilot” stage to “Business As Usual”. Processes will include utility procedures and standards, approved for publication in the PG&E Technical Information Library (TIL) and regularly maintained.
Development of operational and asset management processes
- Drive stakeholder support for the full-scale operationalizing of Remote Grids, including presentations to leadership, educating other lines of business about the program, and persuading stakeholders to lend support.
- Bring an electrical engineering perspective into collaboration with asset management staff to address contract management, communicating Operations & Maintenance (O&M) feedback to inform asset strategy.
- Oversee root cause analysis, led by 3rd party O&M contractors, to understand issues in the field and the ‘so what’ implication for design, operations, maintenance, and asset management.
- Develop a strong understanding of operational trends and identify needs to iterate design concepts or standards.
- Represent Remote Grid Engineering's interests for IT work associated with Remote Grid program scale-up and operations. Develop a Remote Grid engineering position on quality and efficiency improvements for IT system investments and IT improvement initiatives. Collect IT related pain points and opportunities with associated benefits for ongoing IT enhancement project scoping.
- Represent Remote Grid Engineering in management of the software application used to remotely monitor and control SPS assets. Collaborate with PG&E IT to manage the application.
- Coordinate & synthesize PG&E technical stakeholder input (Standards, Distribution Operations, IT, Automation, and Asset Management).
- Act as a technical subject matter expert in relevant policy and regulatory discussions, working groups or proceedings.
- Bachelor’s in Engineering (Electrical preferred) from an accredited college or relevant job-experience that provides an understanding of the underlying physics of how the electric grid is engineered and operated
- 7 years of job-related experience
- Demonstratable technical knowledge of solar PV, inverters, energy storage, fuel-powered generation, microgrid controllers and/or off grid energy systems
- Experience in domains of utility, energy, infrastructure, or commercial/industrial buildings, specifically for Engineering Procurement and Construction, with a role as a Product/Application Engineer, Sales Engineer, Project Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Owner’s Engineer, or field service engineering supporting O&M and asset management
- Strong verbal / written / visual communication and presentation skills
- Ability to work in a matrixed environment and a positive execution-oriented mentality
- Ability to be creative, versatile, efficient and productive in the face of ambiguity
- Electrical Professional Engineer (P.E.) license
- Master’s in Engineering
- Electric utility industry experience
- Understanding of distribution grid design, system planning/operations engineering practices and tools (e.g., CYME, Synergi-Electric or other equivalent software for power system modeling)
- Knowledge of applicable laws, codes, and standards
- Experience deploying distributed energy resources with a developer or EPC firm
- Experience with data analytics (Excel and SQL minimum; Pandas, NumPy, or R desired)
- Experience modeling and designing microgrids using tools such as HOMER
- Experience in procurement solicitations for technology solutions and EPC including vendor bid process, technical specification and technology selection.
- Power system protection engineering experience
- Experience driving technology R&D, pilots, and scale-up
- Bias toward action
- Sense of ownership for tech you build and empathy for users operating that tech for years to come
- Ability to effectively communicate highly complex ideas with credibility, confidence, and clarity to diverse audiences using verbal, written, and visual means
- Nimbleness in communication, execution and problem solving approaches when coordinating across various stakeholders.
- Ability to solve unique and complex problems, anticipating issues and developing innovative solutions
- Ability to handle multiple projects and stakeholders and work in a fast-paced environment