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Rao Konidena's picture
Independent Consultant Rakon Energy LLC

Rao Konidena found Rakon Energy LLC because Rao is passionate about connecting clients to cost-effective solutions in energy consulting, storage, distributed energy resources, and electricity...

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  • Jan 17, 2022
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Unless ERCOT ramps up hiring via H1-B visa process, I don't see how they can fill this gap - "ERCOT’s job board showed 65 job openings on Jan. 13. Twenty-five of them are for engineers. Nineteen are information and technology jobs."

"The H-1B program allows employers in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent." https://www.uscis.gov/tools/reports-and-studies/h-1b-employer-data-hub

Recent stats indicate RTOs are not hiring engineers via H-1B program, except for NYISO in 2021. This trend could explain the staffing shortages at these RTOs.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 17, 2022

Interesting to think how this becomes an immigration issue-- thanks for that insight Rao. Does the ongoing pandemic make this angle of trying to fill these key roles more challenging though? Is there a more immediate plan to 'fill the gap'?

Rao Konidena's picture
Rao Konidena on Jan 17, 2022

Matt - More than the pandemic, I believe the issue has to deal with who is in the White House. See the data from the last 10 years below,


Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on Jan 17, 2022

ERCOT certainly has had it's share of challenges over the years. I was working as a contractor in ERCOT on their EDI and data exchange applications when I was informed that my services were no longer needed, no explanation was provided. A few years later I found out why, it turns out I was replaced by someone who was deceased in one of those fake contracts. A friend joked with me that productivity increased - what he meant was the "dead guy" was charging more hours than I was. Fact can be stranger than fiction. 

A former FBI agent and security manager for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas received a 12-year prison sentence for his role in a security contract scam that tarnished the state's electricity grid operator's reputation and cost it millions of dollars.

Luquis, a former FBI agent who was stationed in New York City at the time of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, resigned from the agency to join ERCOT as a security manager. It was in that capacity, Abbott says, that he began cobbling together phony security contract schemes with other defendants to defraud ERCOT out of millions.

Three remaining defendants all pleaded guilty to felonies and await sentencing

The three, all former employees or managers at ERCOT, are Ken Shoquist, chief information officer; Chris Uranga, director of information technology operations and corporate security; and Chris Douglas, senior manager of ERCOT's Data Warehouse.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 18, 2022

"A friend joked with me that productivity increased - what he meant was the "dead guy" was charging more hours than I was."

So he was charging more hours...I'll bet your were still more productive than him. Anyway, sounds like you were fired just in time!

Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on Jan 19, 2022

Bob, I didn't see it that way at the time, but in hindsight I'm glad that I didn't get caught up in that "investigation".

Rao Konidena's picture
Rao Konidena on Jan 17, 2022

Another issue I see is that not many people with Vice President in their title are retiring or moving on at these RTOs. So, what is happening is that there are not many opportunities for the Director level positions to move up. Hence they are not going anywhere either. As a result, there is no career growth for junior engineers.

This problem goes away with hiring H-1B visas because, under those visa rules, the employees have to stay in that position for 3 years with an option for the employer to renew another 3 years. So, what happens then is that the RTO has basically an engineer who won’t move for 6 years. That provides stability for both the RTO and the employee. As a result, the RTO stakeholder benefits.   

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 19, 2022

Rao, it's wonderful that foreign workers can get temporary work visas through the H1-B program - for them. For a while.

For displaced American engineers, ones equally qualified, even ones who were hired and trained by FERC, then fired because workers from developing countries would work for half the salary they were earning, it sucks.

When their visas expire, it will suck for many of those aspiring foreign engineers, too. Though they were promised by their employers they would be sponsored to become U.S. citizens, they will instead be fired and replaced by another hopeful immigrant - often from their native country - with the same hopes, dreams, and misplaced trust in the "Land of Opportunity". Rinse, repeat.

That's the other side of the story.

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