The Substation Below-Grade Analysis

The Substation Below-Grade Analysis

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2839-7.ch006
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The preparation of the substation layout for equipment installation is a vital element in the success of major capital projects. Equally important are the key integration processes involved in the equipment commissioning and plant-in-service phases of the endeavor. The integration of man, material, machinery, and methods require an intricate balancing act to maintain a specified budget, as well as timely component installation.
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The below-grade process of a wind turbine generator implementation begins once the renewable energy integration challenges and criteria (meteorology, transmission, land, public relations, civic engineering development, permitting, and environmental studies) are satisfied. A comprehensive review of the geotechnical studies, surveys, and engineering heavy permits consume only a small portion of the pre-construction phase of the capital-intensive project. A more thorough analysis of the site work is expected to consume a greater share of time for the below-grade assessment. The negotiations with turbine equipment providers (and long lead-time procurement issues) are included in this phase and implemented in the master schedule. The development of the environmental construction compliance plans as well as the mobilization arrangement is encompassed in the pre-construction activity set. Most importantly, the prime contractors are secured to perform the work. Ideally, all of the applicable permits are approved and the project has positive community support. Moreover, the landowner issues – specifically the liability during construction portion – of the agreements are stipulated and clarified to all parties involved. All of the studies are expected to produce positive results after thorough assessments of the construction site.

The more opinions you have, the less you see. (Wim Wenders ~ b. 1945 -)

Nevertheless, problems occur during the early stages (before the first bulldozer arrive on site) of the pre-construction activities. These problems create unnecessary costs and expenditures when valuable resources are misappropriated. Examples of site specific field problems are outlined below:

  • A 230/12.5-kV – 14MVA unit at a transmission substation on the east coast was delayed for two months because of a non-compatible engineering design. The electric utility applied for the local environmental/land permits in conjunction with the pre-construction phase for the particular parcel. Furthermore, the $5.8M capacity project for new load was behind schedule when work crews assessed a habitat suitable for endangered species. There were no contingency plans established and the utility was forced to evaluate an alternative site (sunk costs: $316k).

  • A line re-configuration and engineering field re-design of the specific substation component layout was required for a Midwestern utility work effort. The system reinforcement project was further delayed with a change in prime contractors during the engineering re-design construction work stoppage of six weeks. The project was re-bid and a pre-construction schedule re-established with the new contractor (sunk costs: $150k).

The incisive civil engineering program manager is expected to thoroughly evaluate the construction site and all associated assessments. During the conceptual layout phase, permit layout development, and the engineering heavy permit phase, the pre-construction group is deemed as active participants. This involves the principle number five of the TRIZ model as stated below (Mann & Domb, 1997):

  • Merging: Make operations contiguous or parallel; bring them together in time.

  • It is designed to eliminate the need of crisis management.

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