Oliva Reyes: Powering the Lives of Millions in San Diego

Oliva Reyes: Powering the Lives of Millions in San Diego

Running an electric grid that powers the lives of millions of people is a demanding and exciting job that requires 24/7 commitment to ensure safety and reliability.

As Director of Electric Distribution Operations, SDG&E’s Oliva Reyes is living her dream job to deliver clean, safe and reliable energy to our customers throughout San Diego and southern Orange counties.

Oliva has embraced the evolution of the Electric Distribution Operations division over the years, while also successfully deploying cutting-edge technologies to benefit our customers.

Her team is comprised of SDG&E’s electric distribution operators, the mapping group charged with providing precise geographical data to support operational decisions, and the distribution technology team who works on developing new ideas that will enhance reliability and the power grid.

We sat down with Oliva and asked her what a day in her life looks like.

What do you enjoy about your job as the director of electric distribution operations?

Oliva: The impact my job has on people – both SDG&E employees and our customers. It’s a pleasure to work with employees that love what they do, take pride and ownership in keeping the lights on for our 3.6 million customers.

What challenges keep you up at night?

Oliva: My job is 24/7, so there is no such thing as a day off. When you’re managing a power grid, you can take every necessary precaution to plan and proactively upgrade electric equipment, but there will always be a chance that an unavoidable outage will occur. It’s my job to make sure I know exactly what is going on with the electric system at all times and work with all operational personnel to restore power to customers as quickly and safely as possible.   

I also worry about a potential outage impacting thousands of customers due to an unforeseeable cause and requires a lengthy repair process, leaving our customers without power for an extended amount of time. Our customers rely on us to power their lives, and I take pride in providing them with reliable service day and night.

How is the power grid changing in your eyes?

Oliva: Electricity has been around for decades and delivered to customers in the general same fashion, but with the growth and evolution of batteries and other resources, the electric grid will continue to change drastically in the near future. In fact, we are already seeing some of those changes today. 

One of our challenges is ensuring we have the right tools and technology available to us to deliver safe and reliable service to our customers with these non-traditional resources. We want to be able to give our customers choices, while balancing the safe operation of the electric system. To overcome these issues, you have to continue to be forward thinking, innovative and always looking at the bigger picture for the benefit of our customers.