Ten years may seem like a long time. But as electric transmission projects go, it can be the blink of an eye considering the amount of planning, public outreach, permitting and licensing and construction that’s needed to complete a large project.
Just ask Project Manager Dave Beron, of Project Management and Complex Construction, who has spent about a third of his 28-year National Grid career managing our portion of the New England East-West Solution, or NEEWS. NEEWS is a suite of four major projects developed jointly by National Grid and Eversource. Dave has been National Grid’s NEEWS project manager since its inception in 2004.
The NEEWS projects are designed to work together to improve reliability, reduce constraints and enhance the delivery of bulk electric power within and between Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut; and ensure that the area electric system continues to meet federal and regional reliability criteria. Taken together they create the largest transmission regional upgrade in many years. National Grid invested roughly $790 million in its portion of NEEWS, and when the projects are complete they will increase the FERC Jurisdiction’s rate base (the assets for which we earn a return) by about 30 percent.
The four projects are:
- Rhode Island Reliability Project (National Grid)
- Interstate Reliability Project (National Grid in Mass. and Rhode Island, and Eversource in Conn.)
- Greater Springfield Reliability Project (Eversource)
- Central Connecticut Reliability Project (Eversource)
According to Dave, each of these projects is very complex, with multiple components including new and upgraded transmission lines and substations and many other equipment improvements, upgrades and replacements. Not surprisingly, the projects also had many, many neighbors – both commercial and residential.
What’s interesting is that the National Grid NEEWS projects were sited, permitted and constructed with very little opposition from project neighbors and communities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Dave credits that to the project team’s commitment to working closely with abutters, communities and other interested parties early and often.
“We knew that in order to get these large projects built in a timely manner, we had to do right by our stakeholders,” Dave commented. “Our goal was to have as many project neighbors and community leaders hear about the projects first from us so we could tell our own story and have the opportunity to address any issues early in the process.”
Dave said that stakeholder engagement continued throughout all phases of the project to keep everyone informed and updated on construction schedules, any traffic impacts and other issues. That went a long way to keeping the projects on track, and helping to foster an atmosphere of trust with the affected parties.
“National Grid will be in these communities long after our projects are completed, so it was important to leave a very positive impression about the company and preserve our strong reputation,” Dave added.
The Rhode Island project, which included relocating and rebuilding approximately 40 miles of 115 kV transmission line, constructing 21 miles of new 345 kV transmission line and other related relocations and upgrades, was completed on time and on budget and was placed in service in May 2013.
The Interstate Reliability Project spans Massachusetts and Rode Island. It includes 37 miles of new 345 kV transmission line, nine miles of 345 kV line that was rebuilt and upgraded with higher capacity wire and other related relocations and upgrades. This final NEEWS project is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, on time and on budget.
When asked what his greatest satisfaction with the NEEWS project has been, Dave was quick to point to all of the National Grid team members that contributed to the effort. “From engineers, planners and environmental folks, to construction and operations personnel, National Grid is truly blessed to have a great number of very talented and dedicated employees. Working with them on this large project has been a real privilege,” he said.