Energy and Utilities Work Experience Stories

The Power Purchasing department is responsible for short and long term demand forecasting and hedging customer demand over a daily and 5 year horizon. The department also has responsibility for pricing larger customer contracts. Despite the company growing quickly, the Power Purchasing department to which I report into has remained relatively small, allowing me to get involved with a much wider variety of activities and also exposing me to much more responsibility than I would have necessarily been exposed to in a much larger company in such a short period of time.

Over the past year, I have worked across commercial and financial disciplines reporting at CEO and Director Level, with responsibilities for developing and implementing new systems and the supporting processes. I have also been involved in training and managing staff. On a day to day basis, I get involved with market analysis - mainly looking at market prices of electricity keeping up to date with price fluctuations as these influence heavily the pricing of potential customers.

I am also involved in the demand forecasting of some of our larger customers. This is a key responsibility as it ensures we have bought enough electricity to supply all of our customers. It involves looking at the historic usage of a certain percentage of our larger customers and then carefully mapping their consumption patterns forward for their supply period. The granulation of detail is very high with things like bank holidays and the weather playing a part in the forecasting of consumption and power purchasing!


"My first graduate job was a two months internship in the Generation Department of an electricity service provider in New Hampshire, in the United States of America. I had finished a 5year degree in Environmental Engineering in Portugal in September 2005 and the internship started in June 2006.

The company I interned for is an electricity utility firm serving more than 490,000 homes and businesses throughout the state of New Hampshire. It comprises three fossil fuel-fired generating plans and nine hydroelectric facilities, jointly generating more than 1,110 MW of electricity. I started the internship at a time when the company was facing enormous environmental challenges due to a new regulation on mercury emissions that are present in coal in trace amounts and released after combustion and to one of the power plants replacement of coal for biomass and transitioning to full operation. All power plants were also reviewing options and costs associated with coal and wood ash reuse and disposal. The company  was, of course, interested in the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) that creates a market for greenhouse gas emissions. So, there were plenty of opportunities for me to learn and to apply my knowledge.

Before the actual start, they arranged for tours to each of the power plants, to one hydroelectric facility, to a site of wood chips supply and to the coal ash landfill. These tours were very important to get the big picture not only of the company, but also of the electricity production in that state. Then I worked in cooperation with senior engineers in water and air permit application, I investigated the options for coal ash reuse and I calculated the carbon dioxide emissions from coal to get an estimation of much they needed to pay in an emissions trading market.

There were two months of intensive learning. Work colleagues were very patient and very nice and they were available for doubts and counselling after I had explored all possibilities I could think of. It was a very positive experience that helped me develop a sense of initiative, thoroughness and timeliness."


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