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Inside a System Operations Center

When you walk into any of our four System Operations Centers in Massachusetts, you're surrounded by cool tech and highly-skilled operators whose every move keeps the electrical system running safely and efficiently for millions of homes and businesses throughout the state. There are also centers that manage our electric systems in Connecticut and New Hampshire.

A system operator manages our electric system from our New Bedford System Operations Center.

When a tree branch falls onto our power lines or a car crashes into a utility pole, an audible alarm sounds and the large monitors begin to flash.

“There’s no better way to explain how the system works than to experience it firsthand,” said our Manager of Electric Service Erik Shott.

Our System Operations Centers leverage smart tech like the Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, which enables our system operators to remotely monitor and control our electric distribution system with the help of self-healing smart switches and fuses.

When there’s a trouble spot, an alarm sounds and the large monitors begin to flash.

The smart switches that we’ve installed onto our distribution system allow our system operators to isolate the power outage and reroute power to our customers from a backup source within minutes from the System Operations Center.

A lineworker installs a smart fuse on our electric system in Plymouth.

And when a tree branch contacts our wires, a smart fuse will remain closed for approximately three seconds before reopening to give the branch a chance to fall away before causing a power outage. If the branch doesn’t clear after three attempts, the circuit remains open and our system operators dispatch a crew to assess the damage and make repairs.

Tree branches contacting our overhead wires are among the most common causes of trouble spots on our electric system in our heavily forested region, as well as the number one cause of power outages for our customers during storms.

“Our priority is always the safety of our team, our communities, and the 1.4 million customers we proudly serve,” said Director of System Operations Paul Dardinski. “Each day in the System Operation Control Center is unique as we respond to outages caused by severe weather, periods of high demand that put a strain on the grid like heat waves, and damage to our overhead and underground electric system. A culture of safety, continuous improvement, and performance-guided metrics help keep the team focused on delivering reliable energy and superior customer service as we operate our system.”

Our continued investment in strengthening and modernizing our electric system is delivering significant reliability benefits to our customers.

Of all the Massachusetts customers we restored power to last year, more than 40% were restored by our remote system operators in fewer than five minutes using the smart switches we’ve installed to our electric system.

As part of our continued efforts to harden our distribution system to withstand increasingly frequent and extreme weather and to enable new sources of clean energy and electrification to help meet the commonwealth’s ambitious decarbonization goals, we plan to invest $4.5 billion in electric operations and $1 billion in clean energy enablement over the five-year period beginning in 2025 as laid out in our Electric Sector Modernization Plan.