The Illuminators

Meet the team that ensures Singaporeans get electricity whenever they flip the switch. 
Charged Up: Control Manager Chew Gim Wah (second from right) and colleagues from the Power System Operations Division work round-the-clock shifts to keep Singapore lit up.

Most Singaporeans are so used to having a reliable supply of power that living without electricity – even for a few hours – is almost unimaginable.

But the idea hardly fazes Mr Chew Gim Wah and his colleagues who run the show at the Power System Control Centre – the nerve centre that keeps Singapore lit up.

“We have our contingency plan, standing operating procedures and training in place to prepare and train us to deal with the unexpected,” says the 42-year-old who is control manager in the Power System Operation Division of the Energy Market Authority (EMA).

For these unsung heroes, their goal is to avoid blackouts even during major system disturbances. When Singaporeans notice nothing amiss, it’s a job well done.

To achieve that, Mr Chew and a team of some 30 System Control officers work on round-the-clock shifts to monitor and control the power system. They also oversee the operation of the natural gas transmission system, which affects power supply.

An additional 40 non-shift officers provide support. They ensure that the computer system that captures critical real-time data for monitoring and operating the power and natural gas systems is functioning reliably. They also carry out power and gas system analyses and studies to ensure the power system is stable and reliable.

quote
For these unsung heroes, their goal is to avoid blackouts even during major system disturbances. When Singaporeans notice nothing amiss, it’s a job well done.

Like his colleagues, Mr Chew has experienced a fair share of emergencies since joining EMA nine years ago. In December 2011, generators at a major power station tripped when a natural gas valve was shut, cutting off gas supply to the generators. Mr Chew and his team reacted swiftly, powering up standby generators and restarting the tripped ones, averting a widespread power failure in the country.

During such highly charged moments, he tries “to maintain a clear state of mind and keep… emotions in check. This helps to keep panic at bay”.

When he can, Mr Chew stops to admire the city lights; watching Singapore glow fills him with satisfaction. “I admire the hard work of all my colleagues in maintaining a secure and reliable power system.”

  • POSTED ON
    Nov 16, 2012
  • TEXT BY
    Jamie Ee
  • PHOTOS BY
    Justin Loh
  • link facebook
  • link twitter
  • link whatsapp
  • link email