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The Role of IT at the NYISO

December 21, 2021

Running the energy grid in New York takes skilled engineers, grid operators, and economists. But the largest part of our workforce is actually the team of software developers, database administrators, networking experts, and other professionals that make up our IT department. 

Here at the NYISO, about 150 people, about a third of our staff, are dedicated to building, maintaining and securing the software and hardware that is the very backbone of our enterprise.

What kind of IT positions are available here? Jobs range from programming to software testing, from server administration to database administration. There are Windows experts, cyber security specialists (our business includes a 24/7 cyber operations center), and networking experts. For programming, expertise in Java is a primary skill, while platform positions require such languages as Unix and JBoss. We are hiring both seasoned professionals and people straight out of college.

“The NYISO has some very complicated problems to solve,” said Brandon Cheely, Manager of Reliability and Market Technologies. “We need strong developers and testers to help us solve these problems. We value the knowledge that people gain while they’re here, encourage people to stay with us for a long time, and do our best to support that.” 

Our primary mission is to ensure reliability of the electric grid, or as we like to say, “keeping the lights on in New York.” That means supporting a team of operators who work out of a control room to manage the flow of electricity from energy resources to consumers. They also manage the wholesale energy markets where electricity and related support services are bought and sold. Behind this team are market experts, operations engineers, business analysts, and related staff dedicated to keeping the system working properly. All of that runs on IT.

Oftentimes, the kind of IT solutions we need to address system-specific needs that don’t exist elsewhere. That’s when these IT experts roll up their sleeves, and like a scene out of the movie Apollo 13, come together to think creatively and solve problems in ways no one else can. 

“We’re building custom software to run the energy markets of New York state,” Cheely said. “It’s not a web shopping application. It’s something that has a major impact on the entire state. It’s important and it’s interesting.” 

Many of our IT staffers have been here for a long time. Cheely began in 2007 as a Senior Software Developer. Over the years, he worked for several departments before taking a supervisor role in 2010. He currently oversees a team of 35 people.

“There isn’t anything out of the box available to run the many different energy market systems and supporting systems we need to have,” he explained. “It all needs to be custom-developed and supported.”

For example, we recently launched a new program to allow energy storage resources, such as batteries, to participate in supplying energy to the grid. This required new software to prepare the energy market to work with this new technology. 

Supervisor of Web Integrations, Kris Bailey, came here with a background working in the insurance industry. At first, she was intimidated by the complexity of our business. After all, she didn’t know anything about energy.

“From the first interaction with a NYISO person, you can just tell there’s a sense of wanting you to succeed, and wanting you to be a good contributor,” she said.

She also appreciated that there was always something new to learn, and that management was open to new ideas. And, of course, she recognizes how important the role of IT is in supporting everything we do.

 “IT is an essential framework for helping the business achieve its goals and achieve its possibilities.”

Mary Helen Donnelly, Supervisor of Midrange, Storage and Distribution systems, has been here for 14 years. She’s been in government, academia and business, and sees the NYISO as a meshing of all of those sectors. Above all, though, it’s the importance of the work she does that keeps her engaged.

Meet more of our IT staff:

Phil Nazario - "I'm contributing to something that helps a lot of people."

Elaine Bell - "I come to work every day in awe of what we do."

Visit our current job listings for details about open positions.

We are an independent, not-for-profit corporation responsible for operating the state’s bulk electricity grid, administering New York’s competitive wholesale electricity markets, conducting comprehensive long-term planning for the state’s electric power system, and advancing the technological infrastructure of the electric system serving the Empire State.