Operations Supervisor, TriSummit Utilities Inc.
Clean Energy Career Profile
Ever wonder what it would be like to work as a wind turbine technician, 500 feet in the air? Or to work as a solar farm electrician, harnessing the power of the sun, and using it to charge a massive on-site battery system? CanREA’s Clean Energy Career Profiles ask Canada’s renewable energy and energy storage workers what they do, how they got into this line of work, and what advice they have for others looking to work in the renewable energy and energy storage sector.
In 2023, CanREA spoke with Dan McSween, Operations Supervisor, TriSummit Utilities Inc, to find out more about his occupational journey.
|Company:||TriSummit Utilities Inc.|
Dan attended the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) and obtained a Blue Seal Certification for “Power Systems Electrician” (an Alberta trade dedicated to High Voltage Substations). He worked as a supervisor specializing in high voltage substation construction and maintenance, including some renewable energy projects. His passion for sustainability pushed him to look for opportunities to apply his training, skills, and experience in a more direct way with renewables. He researched opportunities reached out to multiple renewable companies, landing at TriSummit Utilities Inc. He started as a wind farm operation supervisor and now manages a site of 34 wind turbines, a high-voltage substation, and a collector/transmission power line. This role as an Operations Supervisor allows him to continue learning and take on more responsibility.
A day in the life
Dan’s day typically starts with driving through a site and looking for any anomalies on the road, wind turbines, powerlines and substation/shop. His next task is to update his daily reports to provide management with the previous day’s production numbers and the plan for the day, which can include managing O&M contractors, doing inspections and maintenance on the substation, utilizing software to analyze data from the power grid and the wind turbines, leading safety meetings, and more. As needed, Dan will also perform high voltage switching, climb wind turbines for periodic inspections, clean up fallen trees, work with his team on WECC compliance tasks, and carry out administrative work such as project planning, budgeting and managing invoices.
“Renewables are the future! It is a very malleable industry and skills from all different backgrounds can become an asset to a lot of organizations. Set goals based on your passions and your job no longer feels like work.”—Dan McSween
- Contractor management – Being able to communicate with different people from different trades and backgrounds.
- Attention to detail – Being able to read procedures, follow procedures and act in emergency situations with safety as a priority.
- Organization – This role brings multiple ongoing maintenance and new projects which Dan has to manage daily. Multiple standards apply, including the North American Electrical Reliability Corporation.
- Resourcefulness – “Knowing everything does not necessarily make you a smart person. Knowing where to get the answer does.” —Dan McSween