Dozens of computer screens light up the large control room. There are even larger monitors at the front. This is where Caruna's control centre team works, and the 15 employees here play a very significant role. They are responsible for managing the operational actions on the electricity network, ensuring safety and the optimal operation and monitoring of the network. In other words, they are responsible for keeping Finland's lights on.
One of the team members is Timo Kyyrö – a senior operations engineer and the 2018 Control Centre Operator of the Year. Having worked at Caruna for eleven years, he speaks respectfully of his work and colleagues. The annual challenge cup, a golden trophy, was awarded to Kyyrö for the second time, but he does not want to take credit for it.
- The award is based on concrete figures, that is, how quickly electricity can be restored to customers using remote-controlled devices, together with contractors. Although I was awarded the recognition this year, it belongs to the entire team, because our work is all about cooperation. We have a nice and supportive work community – when everything works together, good results follow, he says.
Electricity should not be taken for granted
Kyyrö has always been interested in electricity. He has a particular recollection from his childhood, when lightning inspired awe in the little Timo. As a result of the lightning, an electric arc flashed from a socket, which felt very interesting to the child. As Kyyrö became older, the interest grew and eventually led to electrical studies.
Seeking challenges brought him to Caruna. And he certainly got them, because the network area managed by Kyyrö inhabits a total of 1.5 million Finns, of which he manages up to half during his shift. Control centre operators handle about two thousand medium-voltage faults per year.
- Responsibility is emphasised in our work, because everyone is responsible for acting and planning measures safely when operating in the electricity network, he says.
Although many people seem to take electricity for granted, Kyyrö knows from experience that this is not always the case. Electricity network faults occur irrespective of time and place. Therefore, the control centre team also performs on-call shift work at night. Weather is closely monitored, as weather conditions are one of the major causes of faults.
- Depending on the weather, as much can happen at night as during the day. For example, forest machines move at night, so trees can fall on power lines. In major disruptions, we prepare by increasing staff in the control centre, field and customer service as needed, says Kyyrö.
A job that challenges, rewards – and helps
There have been plenty of exceptional situations during Kyyrö's working years. As one of the most challenging situations in his career, he mentions the Boxing Day storm in 2011, the impacts of which are visible today. The storm covered almost all of Finland, and over 200,000 customers in the area managed by Caruna were left without electricity.
- The situation started with strong winds arising from the west. Trees torn by the storm caused severe damage to the electricity network. It was challenging to rebuild overhead lines: we hired hundreds of electricians and forestry workers all over Finland. It took well over a week before electricity was restored to everyone, he recalls.
In the wake of the Boxing Day storm, the state issued policy guidelines for similar situations. In particular, the importance of the underground cable network, automation and remote-controlled equipment rose to an important role. Kyyrö thinks this is a good thing: the industry is developing and moving forward.
He looks at the Control Centre Operator of the Year trophy and reflects calmly on his work. It is evident that Kyyrö enjoys his profession, which not only challenges and rewards, but also helps people.
- The desire to help is the motivator behind everything here. It is meaningful to see how electricity distribution can be quickly restored to large numbers of customers. When people can lead normal daily lives, my job is well done, he summarises.