Location: Connecticut

Client: Northeast Utilities Service Co.

Completion Date: Energized: Late 2008; Final Completion: Mid-2009

Burns & McDonnell was selected by the Northeast Utilities Service Co. (NUSCO) as program manager of the Middletown-Norwalk Bulk Transmission Project, which consisted of a $1.1 billion portion of a $1.4 billion program. The project scope included nearly 70 miles of new 345-kV transmission line, of which 24 miles is cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) underground cable. At the time, the Middletown-Norwalk Project was the largest transmission capital project in the country and the first application of program management in the power delivery industry.

Read more: Northeast Utilities project hits safety milestone
Read more: Middletown-Norwalk project energized ahead of schedule

As program manager, Burns & McDonnell was the single point of management along the route route through 18 cities and towns from Middletown to Norwalk in Connecticut. Responsibilities included developing the project execution plan and implementing its processes and procedures. Project execution includes the management of the project scope, schedule, budget, contracting strategies, risk, procurement, change orders, phasing, project reporting and control plans, QA/QC, permitting and environmental compliance, community relations, safety plan, and real estate acquisition.

  • Program management
  • Community involvement
  • Planning
  • Permitting
  • Safety
  • Detailed engineering
  • Cost controls
  • Document controls
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Scheduling
  • Budgeting
  • Procurement
  • Construction management

Program management provides for all owner project delivery needs related to a large and complex effort involving the construction of multiple facilities over several years. The program manager is an agent of the owner and serves as a single point of management throughout the lifespan of a project(s). A program manager provides detailed managerial support with added technical value to the owner and is normally involved from the earliest stages of a project.

The Burns & McDonnell program management teams offer current planning methodologies, public involvement and testimony capabilities, design expertise, knowledge of construction methods and pricing, an understanding of competitive market conditions, and effective scheduling and cost control systems. Program management is successful because the project's planning, permitting, design and construction phases are effectively integrated into a single process.

Burns & McDonnell opened an 80-person Connecticut office near the project site to provide the client with immediate local access to the critical human resources needed to be successful on an effort of this magnitude. On-site resources included a 50-person team dedicated to the project needs in the areas of community relations, safety, scheduling, budgeting, procurement, discipline engineering, inspection, construction management, environmental field monitoring, document control and management. In addition, the Burns & McDonnell Kansas City office provided technical expertise and executive support to the Connecticut-based project staff and the Connecticut-based client. The Connecticut office currently has 150 employees.

One unique facet of the project was the implementation of IEC 61850 communication protocol at two of the project substations. The protocol was used to integrate relays and pass system-critical data directly rather than costly wiring. One site utilized the protocol only during a construction sequence that elevated system criticality and required special tripping. The second substation required a permanent implementation of the protocol to protect critical system components during certain system configurations.

The Middletown-Norwalk Project was completed one year ahead of schedule and significantly under budget.

  • One of the largest transmission capital projects in the country
  • First application of program management in the power delivery industry
  • 70 miles of new 345-kV transmission line, of which 24 miles are cross-linked polyethylene (XPLE) underground cable
  • On-site resources consisting of a 50-person team dedicated to the project
  • 1.7 million consecutive work hours to date without a recordable safety incident

The public involvement portion of the program management project included:

  • Hosting a series of public town meetings throughout various stages of project.
  • Producing customized mailings and postcards informing residents of project status, what to expect with construction, contact information, etc.
  • Setting up an internal tracking tool, OneTouchPM, for citizen inquiries and property information such as obtained easements. The system integrated with GIS information and construction updates to provide a visual representation for the entire team with live, consistent status updates.
  • Creating a toll-free hotline (866-643-6679) that residents called to ask questions or voice concerns. Responses were made by phone or the field team was sent out to respond in person.
  • Establishing field community relations team that served as the "front line" with residents, notifying them before work took place in their yard with door hangers. If extensive work was to occur, calls were placed and a walk through was scheduled to demonstrate what would happen and where.
  • Creating the website, www.middletown-norwalk.com, which served as host to weekly updates and maps for all 18 towns. A brief overview was provided on the project, explaining the need, giving another medium for communication and displaying the latest plans.