Integrated Water Management — Field Trip to PowerEx
MEL in Integrated Water Management field trip to PowerEx’s offices — a subsidiary company of BC Hydro.
Imbedded into the curriculum of the Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) programs is a hands-on, industry oriented approach to higher education that prepares students to excel in their careers. This was exemplified on Thursday March 15 as the current Integrated Water Management cohort went on a field trip to the offices of PowerEx, a subsidiary company of BC Hydro.
Established in 1988, PowerEx is an electricity marketing subsidiary of BC Hydro — Canada’s third largest electric utility — responsible for marketing British Columbia’s energy surplus in the west. Today, they are a key participant in energy markets across North America, buying and supplying physical wholesale power, natural gas, ancillary services, and more recently, environmental products with an ever-expanding list of trade partners. As such, PowerEx is a key part of the energy sector in Canada and an invaluable source of information and potential network for our MEL students.
During the presentation, students were introduced to the type of work that the Planning, Scheduling, and Operations Shift Engineers do to manage the BC Hydro’s hydropower system, with relevant examples covering real-time generation command centers. This enables next-hour to next-week planning and optimization to balance the load with available resources. The students learned about BC Hydro’s power trade operations strategy that is influenced by the bilateral needs of location, quality, and price. This gave them invaluable insight on when is the optimal time to buy or sell considering several factors, for example-weather, transmission, planned and unplanned congestion, hydrological conditions, emission markets, available generation and natural gas, etc.
The students also toured the PowerEx trading floor and command centre; being given hands-on instruction of how their system works and their data monitoring process. Finally, the students were able to talk and network with current staff and experience the culture and environment of the office along with information about career opportunities at PowerEx. This type of introduction to a company can be incredibly useful to students once they begin looking for employment post-graduation.
The opportunity to view and learn about how their studies will translate to future careers is one of the benefits of the MEL curriculum. The program’s applied nature ensures that meaningful instruction with real-world relevance is a primary concern and students are given exclusive opportunities to have that experience. Beyond education in the classroom, it is opportunities to connect with industry partners and learn from their practise will benefit student’s career trajectories in the long term.