A Day in the Life of a Planner
When customers want to upgrade or install new electrical service, their first interaction with a Southern California Edison employee is often with a service planner. Planners gather requirements for jobs so they can design the system and order materials.
Aimee Foster is a planner at the Saddleback Service Center in Irvine. She’s worked at SCE for more than ten years after starting as an office assistant in 2006 at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
We tagged along recently to see what goes on during a day in the life of a planner.
7 a.m. The Day Begins
Days usually start at 7 a.m. We meet Aimee at the service center and learn she started as a planner by participating in SCE’s Service Planner Development Program, a nine-month course with on-the-job training where students learn how to prepare work orders used for construction, order materials, and create customer invoicing and contracts. They also learn what is required for the planning stages of new engineering and construction projects. After hellos, we head into an assembly room with her co-workers for a stretch.
8 a.m. Weekly Scheduling Meeting
Every Tuesday, the planners participate in a meeting to discuss the progress of projects and see if tasks are on schedule. Aimee has two items approaching deadlines and needs to meet with another planner to coordinate.
8:45 a.m. Head Into the Field
Planners spend about two-to-three days a week in the field completing inspections and customer meetings at job sites. Today, Aimee has five locations to visit. She collects her protective equipment and walks to a hybrid electric vehicle in the lot. She checks the car and makes sure there aren’t any critters hiding underneath. She also checks for any potential hazards in the area. Once she determines everything is safe, she gets in and flips through the locations for the day, inputting the address of her first stop into the car's GPS.
9:05 a.m. Stop 1: Laguna Woods Transformer
The first stop is Laguna Woods. A transformer was recently checked by an inspection team and rust was spotted on the enclosure. Though currently safe, the rust poses a potential safety threat if it worsens and has been marked for replacement. Aimee’s role is to note conditions such as whether traffic control will be needed and from where work crews de-energize the transformer. It’s a gated community, so no traffic control is required. She then checks to see where the switch to de-energize the equipment is. She takes a photo to include with the job report. Down the street in the same community are two more rusted transformers to be replaced and Aimee repeats the same process.
9:58 a.m. Off to Mission Viejo
Aimee is assigned to job sites in Irvine and neighboring cities, including Mission Viejo and Laguna Niguel. Our next stop is a bit of a drive to a neighborhood in Mission Viejo where a customer plans to install rooftop solar.
10:31 a.m. Inspecting an Electrical Panel
We arrive in the second neighborhood at the end of a cul-de-sac. Aimee has to check the service lines connected to the electrical panel of a home to make sure it can handle the demand of a larger electrical panel for a rooftop solar installation. She steps out of the car and puts on a flame resistant shirt, hardhat with a protective face shield, gloves and yellow vest. The equipment will help keep her safe during her meter inspection.
Beware of Dog
Aimee passes a “warning, security dog” sign on her way to the front door to greet the homeowner. She knocks, but there’s no answer. She tells us customer and contractor interaction is common in this job, even though we haven’t met anyone today. She walks over to the side gate near the electrical panel and is greeted by a barking dog. It's small and harmless, though noisy, so she goes into the yard and opens the panel.
Inspecting the Panel
After removing the service panel, Aimee confirms the service line is adequate to accommodate a higher-voltage electrical panel. She closes the panel and leaves a sticker to show it has been inspected. Before leaving, she checks to see where the transformer and switch are on the street that crews will use to de-energize the line. She can’t locate the hand hole. It could be under an overgrown bush, so she makes a note to send a meter service crew to locate it before she can give final approval to the homeowner for the installation.
10:56 a.m. Meter Check No. 2
We head down the street for a second meter check. This customer also wants to install solar panels. Aimee opens the panel and inspects the cable. It looks good. However, the homeowner installed cable lines next to the panel that need to be moved before the panel can be replaced. Aimee makes a note and adds a sticker to the meter showing she was there.
11:30 a.m. Time for Lunch
Aimee’s field work is complete for today. We make a quick stop for lunch to re-energize before heading back to the service center.
12:15 p.m. Hand Notes to Digital Notes
Aimee heads back to her desk and inputs the information from the field inspections in the design manager program the team uses to track progress and order materials. She’ll finish her day here, and then drive home to rest up for tomorrow, a day filled by meetings with contractors that are building a commercial warehouse requiring precise coordination with SCE.
To learn more about working at SCE, check out the careers page.