Maria Nohemi stands in a control center in front of computers.

Tell us about why XM partners with the G-PST Consortium and how the organizations have worked together so far.

For XM, it’s been very important to have the support of G-PST for peer learning, workforce development, advanced solutions, and technical and engineering knowledge to face the power system transformation.

Together, XM and G-PST have been working on peer-learning activities (Pillar 1) with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the Energy Systems Integration Group, and Great Britain’s National Grid ESO to share experiences about inertia monitoring and distributed energy resource adoption. We’re planning to collaborate on flexibility issues, forecasting models, reactive power improvements, voltage optimization procedures, system recovery plans, reserves for frequency control, resiliency metrics, and control center displays.

We’ve also recently joined G-PST’s Pillar 5, “Open Data and Tools”, to analyse and enhance real-time monitoring.

Lastly, XM is participating in a workforce gender equality accelerated program under Pillar 3 through G-PST’s “Women in PST” initiative. Women in PST is partnering with Johns Hopkins University under the Self-Empowerment and Equity for Change Initiative, funded in part by the United States Agency for International Development, to offer these workforce gender programs.

In your own words, why is G-PST’s mandate, of supporting system operators through the clean energy transition, so critical for Colombia and beyond?

G-PST support is crucial to Colombia because its partners are world-class organizations with the highest operational standards. XM believes that the transition to clean energy requires a structural change in energy systems, which is why we plan to add 11 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind generation to our electrical power system by 2027, representing approximately 36% of total generation and reducing an estimated 9 million tons of CO2 by 2030. The experiences of G-PST partners serve as knowledge and learning opportunities for us, enabling an overall easier energy transition for Colombia.

Each of G-PST’s Pillars strengthen skills for system operators. As the system operator of Colombia, XM is supporting G-PST’s Pillars in various ways, specifically through studies and recommendations to the National Regulatory Authority, supporting the auctions for renewable energy, and analysing the flexibility requirements and needs to meet the energy transition. We are also defining the main requirements for new technologies, such as wind and solar generation and battery energy storage systems. Although Colombia currently has less than 0.3 GW of solar and wind generation, an uptake in renewable energy is occurring, and Colombia is working to build new substations and transmission lines to support this growth. XM has been committed to tackle new challenges, and our operators are qualified and trained to adapt to the constant changes imposed by day-to-day operations.

In the short-term and based on G-PST support, our new challenge is to continually prepare and train our operators for electrical conditions that arise under significant, non-conventional renewable generation in Colombia. We are preparing to face new scenarios armed with methodologies and tools to analyse new operational conditions.

Tell us about who you are and your career so far.

I am the CEO of XM Colombia and I hold a Master of Science in Power Transmission and Distribution. As an electrical engineer, I have more than 25 years of experience in power systems, energy planning, and transactions in the Colombian wholesale energy market. I’m married, and I met my husband, who is also an electrical engineer, at university when we were students. We have two wonderful sons, and my family is my main support in life. In my free time, I love to read and enjoy the countryside. At XM, I enjoy working with talented and diverse colleagues, challenging them to achieve their full potential. I appreciate holding dialogues with various teams at XM, ensuring all colleagues have a voice in building our organization’s collective, corporative goals together.

Maria Nohemi sitting at a desk smiling with a laptop.

As the XM leader, I am promoting the energy transition in Colombia along with efficient processes and production in the electricity sector. To be a key actor for this transformation, XM is supporting the digitization and security of process information, ensuring we meet all the operational standards in the electrical system. Having international alliances such as G-PST is crucial to XM to improve competitiveness, develop capacities, and host a reliable and resilient energy system that adopts new technologies.

As XM’s CEO, I work to gather different members within the electricity sector chain to face the energy transition in our country together.

What do you find to be the most meaningful and/or challenging aspect of your work?

As the independent system operator in Colombia, our main role at XM is to ensure our country and citizens have the energy to make their dreams come true.

In my opinion, some of our main challenges are operational criteria, reliability, economy, smart and safe systems, and agile and simple digital services. Another important challenge is the integration of wind and solar generation and the transition to a distributed and digital system with active customer participation. To achieve renewable energy integration and a viable transition, our priorities are increasing flexibility, resilience, and interoperability. The development of complete markets as well as deployment of the associated information technology tools to allow for customer participation are equally important. In terms of flexibility, we are focusing on the network, the generation, and new technologies such as energy storage.

To overcome any challenge or achieve any objective, our driving factor is to attract, retain, and develop top-tier talent, not only for technical skills, but also in diversity, integrity, innovation, negotiation, and strategic thinking. We have an ongoing effort to increase adaptability, disruptive thinking, co-responsibility, and entrepreneurship within our culture, which we believe to be vital to accomplishing our long-term energy goals.

Women face many barriers to working and becoming leaders in many engineering fields. As a woman in a top leadership position, what advice would you give to young women and people in a successful career in the systems operations field?

I have met wonderful people in my career, regardless of their gender, with great skills who have showed me the right path to becoming a successful professional. Within XM, we strongly promote the growth of our professionals, support and defend gender equity for women, enable the redefinition of gender roles, and recognize the importance of embracing diversity and identities.

Although not adopted in all Colombian industries, XM made a strategic decision in favor of equity and inclusion. Some industries have a lack of commitment to these values, which we need to strengthen through government policies. This is why I’m leading different initiatives in Colombia to promote equity and inclusion without distinction of gender, sexual orientation, or race. I’m very proud to be a woman with a leadership role for many reasons, but mainly to help my environment and help others. At XM, we are proud to have our women operators make up 15% of staff in the XM national control centers. One of the women operators is shown in the next picture:

An XM woman operator in a control center smiling while on the computer.

In this sense, my advice for all women is to recognize how knowledge and vision complement each other. Be sure to have and grow the necessary skills to be outstanding professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math careers. We must fight stereotypes and work hard. As women, we must continue to forge new paths and inspire diversity and talent.

XM's non-binary character Luz Prudencio standing in a purple shirt with an arm raised.

As a good example to other companies, XM has a strategy to support diverse talents, creating an icon called Luz Prudencio who is a non-binary character, to lead conversations around diversity, respect for difference, non-tolerance of any type of harassment, and recognition of inclusivity as a value of our organizational culture. The character is presented as follows:

Is there anything else you’d like to highlight about yourself, Colombia’s energy transition, or XM’s work with the G-PST?

 The global energy transition involves us all. In Colombia, we are aware of the global mission to fight climate change, and we believe one of our biggest challenges is to transform culture in the energy industry. XM is committed to supporting clean energy auctions to promote competition, attract qualified participants, and achieve a variety of policy objectives, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Colombia also is considering the production of green hydrogen and supporting the integration and convergence of technologies. XM believes that artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and analytics are key issues to enhance the energy transition. As Colombia is continually preparing to integrate new technologies into the grid and support a clean energy transition, XM will be the acting force to enabling a successful energy transition.

For XM, it’s clear that opportunities emerge when companies have resilient people in leadership and a culture open to change, focused on growing, evolving, and transforming. Ultimately, being part of a consortium like G-PST is a wonderful chance for Colombia’s workforce to grow in technical and engineering expertise, as the speed and scale of our renewable energy transition is enormously fast. We’re grateful for G-PST and their willingness to collaborate, share knowledge, and to continually partner with us.

Finally, I would like to highlight the work of all XM team members who work tirelessly and passionately to ensure electricity is delivered to our country, striving every day to learn and strengthen their skillsets to support the clean energy transition.

In the next picture, I’m surrounded by our XM management team, with significant representation of women leadership:

A picture of the XM management team sitting and standing outside.