AVANGRID is a U.S. utility that serves 3.2 million natural gas and electricity customers in upstate New York and New England. The growing demand for power had increasingly been pressing the limits of AVANGRID’s existing transmission system. In addition, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) introduced new standards for bulk electric systems (BES), defined as transmission system elements operating at 100kV and above, with which AVANGRID needed to comply.
AVANGRID chose WSP as program manager and owner’s engineer for the BES upgrade. The initial program included multiple substation upgrade projects at voltage levels of 4kV,12kV, 34.5kV, 115kV, 230kV and 345kV. It also included both air- insulated and gas-insulated switch gears (AIS, GIS) in the 115kV substation projects. The initial scope of work targeted 46 substations and 271 miles of transmission lines to be upgraded across New York and Maine.
WSP looked across its global organization to choose the most qualified leaders and professionals for the program. The WSP team collaborated with AVANGRID management and its contractors to deliver conceptual and detailed designs for multiple projects in the two states. These projects involved substation designs, protection and control designs and transmission line designs. New equipment, including transformers, circuit breakers, disconnect switches and more, was specified and procured through AVANGRID.
Work began in September 2017. The WSP team started with a comprehensive program management plan (PMP). The PMP detailed the program scope, schedule, resources and budget. The PMP also described how the project management office (PMO) would proceed, detailing services such as project management; project controls (planning, scheduling, estimating, cost control, quality planning, risk management and procurement); engineering (conceptual, preliminary and detailed); owner’s engineering; environmental support (preliminary studies as well as permitting); contract management; government and community relations; real estate support for property acquisition; construction management and field oversight; commissioning support (plan development and oversight); safety planning and oversight; document control and project close out.
The program has resulted in new transmission lines and substations that have increased the capacity, as well as the reliability, of the AVANGRID BES. The program has also improved the total cost of ownership by reducing the scope, frequency and duration of major outages. This was accomplished through enhanced designs and the installation of more technologically advanced equipment. The upgrades have also facilitated system access to additional electricity sources to meet growing customer demand and to help lessen the effects of potential power losses.