Luc works as a Control Room Operator at Elia

Luc has been working as a Control Room Operator at Elia since 2003. He manages our high-voltage grid remotely. Think of it as the artery that feeds the Belgian economy. The job involves a lot of challenges, as neatly explained in the seven sayings below.

No such thing as “Do it fast!” here

Working on the high-voltage grid can be dangerous. That's why we don't take any risks. Everyone has to go home at night safe and sound. So when our technicians have to take parts of the high-voltage grid offline, we make sure they can do so safely. Everything is done thoroughly and cautiously. There's no such thing as “Do it fast!” here.

Look before you leap

I used to be a service technician myself. That helps me better understand the work our technicians do. But it's also important to know where your industrial customers' sensitivities lie, because if the electricity goes out for a while, they could suffer serious financial damage. That means you have to properly analyse the risks and consequences of power cuts and set priorities.

We only panic when the coffee runs out

So you can imagine that we feel pressure from the outside, but we don't ever let that compromise safety. This requires a certain degree of stubbornness. You have to stand firm. You also have to stick up for yourself, because you're the one making decisions about where, when and for how long a power cut will last. Our team remains calm under all circumstances. We only panic when the coffee runs out

Stay focused

Everything you hear about energy in the media happens here in real life, such as the growing use of decentralised production from solar panels and small wind turbines on farms. We have to monitor these facilities closely, because the electricity they receive will be adjusted. If you restart a high-voltage line after a power cut, you have to make sure you're not suddenly pushing through the usual volume.

Front-row seat

The first wind farms, the liberalised energy market, energy transmission between countries… I've seen all these changes emerge. We also see in real time what energy is used for, the impact if the wind stops or if a nuclear reactor is taken offline for maintenance. If you want to see the future of the energy market in practice, you have a front-row seat right here.

No mean feat

Our training lasts for two years, including internships, and a lot of it is in a simulator. In the beginning we teach you about simple incidents. Later you learn how to restart after a blackout. Only after those two years can you even think about taking your first independent action. After all, you're controlling the largest electric machine in the country in terms of power. Equivalent to several nuclear power plants.

Authorised personnel only

I repeat: safety comes first. And it starts with the clothing our people wear. Our systems are improving all the time. When something new comes onto the market, Elia gets it. The building we work in is critical infrastructure. It's for authorised personnel only. You’re never alone during a shift and you only leave your post when you've been relieved.

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