Please contact us at (517)788-3000 or caiinfo@cai-engr.com for more information about our project experience and technical capabilities.


Northeast Reliability Interconnect

Bangor Hydro-Electric Company

Northeast Reliability Interconnect

This project began as the 84-mile-long second 345 kV tie to New Brunswick stretching from Orrington Substation near Orrington, Maine, to an interconnection with New Brunswick Power at a point 4 miles north of Woodland, Maine, at the St. Croix River. When the project commenced, Commonwealth provided engineering support for the environmental permitting process; right-of-way acquisition; coordination of survey work; complete line design, including design of lattice steel angle structures using TOWER; design of the Orrington Substation; and complete project scheduling. Commonwealth prepared material procurement specifications, developed a bidders list, solicited and evaluated bids, recommended award, and assisted in writing the purchasing contract for three major items. In addition, Commonwealth coordinated the project system studies among five utility companies and three consultants. State Land Use and DEP permits were issued for the project, and then the owner put the project on hold because electrical demand in the Northeast was less than originally expected. An unsuccessful attempt at extending the permits took place in the meantime. When the project started up again, Commonwealth provided permit coordination, detailed design services, construction liaison, material management, and as-built documents. The line was successfully energized and the overall cost for the line was in excess of $75,000,000.

Smart Grid Project

MEAG Power

Smart Grid Project

Commonwealth was selected to plan and manage engineering, procurement, and construction services for 128 Smart Grid substation projects over a 3-year period. Serving as MEAG Power's project manager, our responsibilities include assigning work to the consultants and MEAG Power staff, purchasing equipment and materials, coordinating construction and commissioning, contributing to progress reports submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy, and performing other services required to keep the project running smoothly.

In the engineering phase, we completed initial site assessments at each site that was to be upgraded. This consisted of an inventory of existing equipment, configuration, and conditions at each site with an emphasis on discovering as many unknowns as possible before scoping the details of engineering, procurement, and construction. This gave us an opportunity to resolve many of the issues and provided a means for establishing the demarcation of scope between Smart Grid items and those that fell within normal station projects.

Recognizing the importance of good communication throughout the project, Commonwealth developed a project website that serves as a distribution mechanism and repository for project documents, status reports, and other pertinent project information. Security levels are maintained to control delivery of appropriate information to each project participant.

Risk assessment is also an important part of the project. We evaluated risks, such as material lead times, summer peak outage requirements, and continuity of construction operations and developed general action plans for each high-priority risk that could have affected the project outcome.

Vermont Electric

Southern Loop 345 kV Project

This project is a new 345 kV H-frame design approximately 54 miles in length in mountainous terrain in Vermont for the purpose of reinforcing the existing transmission grid system. The new 345 kV transmission line is paralleling an existing 345 kV line. The new line has a loop interconnecting into a new substation. The new line was designed to match the existing structure location and type of structure as closely as possible, as well as to avoid environmentally sensitive areas. The design criteria of the old line had to be recreated in order to match the old code design to the current code design, hence match the existing 345 kV design. New steel poles were designed for use in selected areas. Also, existing Vermont River crossing structures were analyzed as part of this project. Modifications to the existing guying had to occur so as not to interfere with the new parallel line. The conductor was two-bundle 954 kcmil “Rail” ACSR. PLS-CADD was used for the routing, permitting and design phases of this project.

Wabash Blissfield Ethanol Plant 138 kV Transmission Line

Wabash Valley Electric Cooperative

Wabash Blissfield Ethanol Plant 138 kV Transmission Line

Commonwealth designed a new wood 138 kV transmission line 4.5 miles in length. Private easements were purchased for right-of-way and tree trimming. In addition, routing and permitting services were rendered as part of the total work. Commonwealth's responsibilities for the project also included project management of the overall schedule; construction bidding and award; material bidding, ordering and expediting; and construction field audits (construction management) of the construction.

Work was performed in Commonwealth's Jackson, Michigan, office with multiple on-site visits and meetings to coordinate construction management and design efforts. Survey subcontractors were contracted and managed as part of the project. The scope of the work included a digital terrain model for design and staking of the transmission structures for construction. The construction of the line was completed 2 weeks prior to the in-service established by the client.

Various Owner's Engineering Services

Michigan Electric Transmission Corporation

Various Owner's Engineering Services

Soon after acquiring Consumers Energy's high-voltage transmission system, the Michigan Electric Transmission Corporation (METC) selected Commonwealth to serve as the firm's Owner's Engineer. Commonwealth provided a variety of consulting and engineering services in this capacity until METC was acquired by the International Transmission Company (ITC) in 2006.

As part of its transmission system purchase from Consumers Energy, METC needed to take possession of large quantities of drawings, paper documents, electronic documents, and microfilm and microfiche records. Commonwealth provided staff to manage and assist with turnover, format updates, and quality control. Drawings for well over 100 substations were transferred from Consumers Energy to Commonwealth as part of this project. New files were quality checked, catalogued, and submitted to METC for inclusion in its online document management system. Commonwealth also provided the transfer of patrol maps and operating diagrams from Consumers Energy to METC and modified the maps to show only METC-owned facilities.

Commonwealth's environmental staff performed studies for seven transmission line projects that included wetland surveys, threatened and endangered species studies, cultural resources research, coordination with regulatory agencies, and preparation of permit applications.

Our transmission line engineering staff completed 26 projects for METC. Tasks for the various projects included clearance studies; structure analysis; routing and compatible use of right-of-way studies; preparation of conceptual cost estimates; design of new lines, rebuilds, or reroutes; preparation of specifications and contract documents; development of EPC contracts;

Commonwealth's substation engineering staff completed 157 projects that involved the preparation of conceptual cost estimates; design of new substations, substation expansions, capacitor bank additions, breaker and RTU replacements, transformer additions, switch replacements, and reactor additions; preparation of EPC contracts; and construction monitoring.

Miscellaneous services included studying a voltage imbalance problem on a 345 kV transmission line, providing escort services for oil handlers needing access to METC's substations, and performing GIS mapping of METC's transmission system.


Various Transmission Line Projects

American Electric Power

Various Transmission Line Projects

Commonwealth Associates has been selected by American Electric Power (AEP) to perform work on a number of projects in both Ohio and Michigan which have involved the rebuilding of existing 69 kV line to either the client's new 69 kV steel pole standards or their new 138 kV steel pole standards. All 69 kV and 138 kV rebuild projects necessitated the development of control plans for the prevention of soil erosion. Each plan included a unique drawing set and narrative. Beyond the control plans for Commonwealth's designs, Commonwealth also performed a stand-alone Buchanan Hydro to Niles Soil Erosion Control Plan in Michigan for an AEP design.

In Ohio, Commonwealth is performing a 69 kV rebuild to the new AEP 69 kV wood pole standard over 8.4 miles from Wapakoneta to West Moulton. Other 69 kV rebuilds in Ohio include:

  • 23.7 miles from Kalida to Auglaize
  • 11.9 miles from Paulding to Mark Center
  • 10.1 miles from Newark to Thornville
  • 17.2 miles from Thornville to New Lexington (as two separate assets of 5.9 miles and 11.3 miles)

Rebuilds in Michigan include:

  • 8 miles of a 138 kV rebuild from Moore Park to Schoolcraft
  • 3.4 miles of a 69 kV rebuild from Corey to Three Rivers
  • 14.7 miles of a 138 kV rebuild from Corey to Stubey Road

In addition to the 69 kV rebuilds, Commonwealth is also rebuilding an existing 2.5 miles of 40 kV wood pole line to a new AEP 69 kV steel pole standard from Livingston to Bexley in Ohio. Another Ohio project requires the rebuilding of a 138 kV line from an H-frame wood pole to a double circuit steel pole over 2.9 miles from West Millersport to Heath.

One project is presently in construction and is due to be energized by mid-December. Photos will be forthcoming.

Cobb Swamp 138 kV Transmission Line

International Transmission Company

Cobb Swamp 138 kV Transmission Line

Commonwealth Associates, Inc. was hired by International Transmission Company (ITC) to provide a broad range of consulting and engineering services for a challenging transmission line rebuilding project. The project consisted of five existing 138 kV, wood pole, H-Frame, single-circuit lines within the Muskegon River floodplain and associated federally and state-regulated wetlands in western Michigan.

The existing lines were built in the 1950s and were showing deterioration from age and exposure to the fluctuating hydrological conditions of the riverine floodplain and wetlands. These conditions were also undermining the access road, thereby challenging routine maintenance of the line, as well as posing difficulties for reconstruction, and had isolated sections of the line. The plan called for rebuilding the access road, including four temporary bridges, and consolidating the five single-circuits on three new double-circuit, single shaft, steel pole lines for 12 miles of new lines. Early in the engineering design phase, Commonwealth's transmission line engineers and environmental staff worked with ITC to come up with a construction phasing and outage plan that would ensure a timely and cost-effective completion of the project, minimize disruption to the public, and comply with timing and construction restrictions resulting from the presence of seven federally and state-regulated plant and animal species.

Commonwealth conducted a structural analysis of the existing lattice steel towers at the west end of the swamp to examine if they could take the additional stresses of the new, heavier 954 kcmil, 54/7 ACSR “Cardinal” phase conductors to be utilized on the new sections of lines. In addition, extensive foundation analysis was conducted to address the foundation challenges within the changing hydrology and soft soils of the floodplain and wetlands. The final solution of vibratory steel caisson foundations proved both time- and cost-efficient based on the challenging conditions.

The structures were designed as single shaft, galvanized steel poles with anchor bolt plates so they could be installed on the caisson foundations with anchor bolts.

Construction access was a significant challenge on this project. Early in the planning phase of this project, it was recognized that the existing access road had deteriorated to a point where it could not be utilized for construction access. Up to 16 culverts along the road were either plugged or had collapsed and wetlands and streamlets had isolated portions of the road and transmission line. A wooden and steel beam bridge over the south channel of the Muskegon River along the road was determined to be unable to support the construction traffic loads necessary for the project. After reviewing options for upgrading or replacing the bridge for costs and environmental permitting, it was determined that construction would need to be staged from both ends of the swamp to alleviate the need to cross this portion of the river.

Environmental permitting for this project was significant. In addition to the seven federally and state-regulated species, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) required a General Permit for minor activities in wetlands for conducting soil borings. A separate MDEQ permit was required for activities in wetlands, floodplains, and inland lakes and streams. A U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Section 404 Permit for projects affecting Great Lakes wetlands was necessary, along with a Section 10 permit of the Rivers and Harbor Act for activities affecting navigable waters of the U.S.

Consultation and coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources was required for threatened and endangered species. While seven species were noted in the project area, concerns about three additional species were raised by these agencies and studies were conducted to ascertain if two of these additional species were present. As a result of the consultation and presence of these species, the agencies, ITC, and Commonwealth arrived at a construction timetable to avoid critical areas during the construction phase of the project.

Roseland - Bushkill 230 kV / 500 kV Transmission Line


Roseland - Bushkill 230 kV / 500 kV Transmission Line

This project involves designing a new 45-mile double-circuit 230 kV/500 kV steel pole transmission line to replace an existing 230 kV transmission line on a narrow 150-foot-wide right-of-way. A portion of this line has to remain energized during construction to keep a substation fed from two sources. The remaining line will be constructed in a way that will allow the re-energization of the line in a 14-hour turn-around time frame.

Commonwealth has provided an electrical effects analysis; assistance with permitting; and design that entails traversing the Delaware Water Gap area, crossing existing transmission lines, and interconnecting to a new 500 kV switching station. Commonwealth also was involved with the alternative route analysis and the preferred route evaluation. A feasibility report and cost estimates were prepared initially for the preferred route, and then the design began. Commonwealth also assisted in the permitting documentation phase.

The final deliverables will be a construction package for the entire line and support by Commonwealth during construction. The structures are double-circuit tubular steel poles, sometimes mini-legged design, and double-circuit lattice towers. The 500 kV circuit consists of four-bundle 1590 kcmil “Falcon” ACSR. The heights of the structure were required to be less than 200 feet. This project began in 2008 and is ongoing.

Mead-Phoenix 500 kV Transmission Line Structures

Salt River Project

Mead-Phoenix 500 kV Transmission Line Structures

The Mead-Phoenix project involved a single-circuit 500 kV ac transmission line approximately 260 miles in length. The system was initially designed to transport 1300 MW of power between the McCullough Substation, near Boulder City, Nevada, and the Westwing Substation, near Sun City, Arizona.

The line was also being designed for future conversion to ±500 kV dc to transport 2200 MW. Commonwealth Associates, Inc. designed a series of five 500 kV lattice steel self-supporting towers using the TOWER program. The work included review of design criteria, detailing, and testing of three structures. A Salt River Project engineer was assigned to Commonwealth's office for three months for on-the-job training as part of Commonwealth's design team.

Swan-Tyee Intertie 138 kV Transmission Line

Southeast Alaska Power Authority

Swan-Tyee Intertie 138 kV Transmission Line

In 2007, Commonwealth was selected by the project's owner, Southeast Alaska Power Authority (SEAPA) to provide project management services for the Swan-Tyee Intertie 138 kV transmission line and the associated substation modifications. The Swan-Tyee Intertie) is a 57-mile tubular steel transmission line that interconnects two remote hydro sites in southeast Alaska. The geography consists of mountainous, timbered terrain. The remoteness of the project required all personnel, equipment, and material to be transported by barge and helicopter. The construction crews were fed and housed at remote floating camps serviced via boats and float planes. The project includes 283 structures and includes three major overhead water crossings: Shrimp Bay (2,585 feet), Behm Canal (5,887 feet), and Eagle Bay (6,890 feet). Two types of conductor were used: 37#8 Alumoweld in the higher elevations and for long spans and 397.5 kcmil “Lark” in the lower elevations.

Commonwealth, as project manager, stepped into a project that was being resurrected from a project that had been started and shut down many years earlier. The project was envisioned in the 1980s. Following permitting and issuing of a Special Use Permit from the U.S. Forest Service, clearing of the right-of-way started in 2002, and foundation construction started in 2004. Funding limitations resulted in the project being closed down in 2004 with only half of the foundations installed and clearing not complete. Several years of creative redesign, economic analysis, and funding successes resulted in the project being given a second chance. The owner determined that a project manager was needed to oversee, coordinate, and report progress of the multiple entities involved with the project, which included the line contractor, substation contractor, clearing contractor, U.S. Forest Service, engineer, environmental monitor, construction manager, inspectors, hydro operation personnel, and material suppliers. Commonwealth was honored to be selected to provide this valuable service.

Within 20 months of Commonwealth's selection as project manager, the Swan-Tyee Intertie project has come to fruition ahead of schedule and under budget. Much of this success can directly be contributed to the real efforts of all parties to keep communication lines open and work toward the common goal of success: a project constructed safely, on schedule, within budget, and with high quality that meets all permit, regulatory, and code requirements. All participants are proud of the successful completion of the Swan-Tyee Intertie project in 2009.

The primary duties of Commonwealth's project management team included monitoring and managing the work, including: design; clearing; construction and permit compliance; assisting in preparation, bidding, selection and award of contracts; coordinating with permitting agencies; monitoring the schedule; reviewing payment requests; preparing progress reports; and making recommendations relative to change orders. This project took place from 2007 to 2009.

Seattle City Light

Warren Avenue Crossing

Seattle City Light has a transmission and distribution line crossing of the Lake Washington Ship Canal at Warren Avenue. The crossing includes two lattice steel towers that were designed in the 1920s. The towers are 190' in height with arms at the 190' and 176' elevations. The top arm supports three phases of transmission. The lower arm supports six phases of distribution.

Commonwealth was tasked to review the adequacy of the existing lattice steel towers and to design new tubular steel poles to replace the existing wood structures that are an integral part of the crossing. Commonwealth analyzed the towers based on available data using PLS-TOWER. The analysis concluded that minimal repairs and modifications were required for the proposed conductor upgrade to 945 kcmil ACSR Rail conductor. Based on this analysis, drawings were developed for the required modifications. Commonwealth also designed new tubular steel structures to replace the existing wood poles.

During construction, it was noted that the arms, due to their asymmetrical nature and the vertical loading, had twisted excessively. This previous damage had not been noted by a climbing inspection performed by others. Commonwealth recommended that new, more traditional symmetrical truss arms be designed, fabricated, and installed prior to installing the new conductor. SCL requested that Commonwealth perform the design of the new arms and they were fabricated by SCL for installation in the spring of 2011.


Marathon Detroit Heavy Oil Upgrade Project

The Hydaker-Wheatlake Company

Marathon Detroit Heavy Oil Upgrade Project

At their Detroit refinery, Marathon Oil Company undertook a $1.9 billion heavy oil upgrading project to increase the refinery's total capacity from 102,000 to 115,000 barrels per day, which included an additional 80,000 bpd of heavy oil capacity. This increased refining capacity gave Marathon the ability to bring more than 400,000 additional gallons per day to the market.

Marathon's Executive Vice-President and President of the company's refining, marketing, and transportation operations, Gary R. Heminger, was quoted in Industry Week as saying, "The Detroit Heavy Oil Upgrade Project is illustrative of strategic investments we're making across our downstream business to increase coking capacity, lower feedstock costs as well as increase efficiency and flexibility, so we can continue providing competitive returns in a challenging downstream environment.”

Commonwealth provided complete civil and electrical engineering services at Marathon's 120 kV switchyard, located within the ITC/DTE Navarre Substation in Detroit. Specifically, Commonwealth provided high- and medium-voltage design services for the installation of 1,000 feet of 13.8 kV cable bus duct, 120/13.8 kV transformers with oil spill containment, 120 kV SF-6 circuit breakers, switches, instrument transformers, and associated steel and reinforced concrete support structures/foundations, plus protective relaying and controls. Our client, The Hydaker-Wheatlake Company, served as the general contractor, providing the procurement and construction components of this EPC project. Project management was provided by Fluor Constructors International, Inc.

Additionally, Commonwealth provided expedited engineering and design services to replace Marathon's T1 Neutral Ground Resistor, needed as a result of a failed neutral ground resistor at the ITC Navarre Substation. The execution pace of the project was accelerated, which Commonwealth was more than able to accommodate.

With safety and environmental stewardship a primary focus, the successful expansion increased the refinery workforce by 135 full-time employees and, by sourcing additional crude oil from Canada, the project improved security of supply for Michigan's only refinery.

Assorted Substation Projects

American Electric Power

Assorted Substation Projects

Commonwealth Associates is pleased to have been selected by American Electric Power (AEP) to perform work on several hundred substation projects in various locations around the country which have involved such wide ranging services as engineering for site development, data concentrators and metering, and additions or replacements of the following:

  • 138 kV breakers
  • alarms
  • breaker controls
  • bus regulators
  • capacitors
  • data acquisition boards digital fault recorders
  • distribution management systems
  • enterprise application integration
  • feeders
  • foundations
  • IMUX equipment
  • optical character recognition
  • pilot wires
  • reclosers
  • relays
  • remote terminal units
  • switches
  • transfer trips
  • transformers
  • tuners
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base - Phase II

Dayton Power & Light

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base - Phase II

Commonwealth is providing engineering services for Wright Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) Power System and Phase II drafting. The project requires transforming the existing substation drawings into DP&L drawings; the development of DP&L substation drawings (schematics, wiring diagrams) which is ongoing; the replacement of Substation “A” transformer, to include: design, relay settings, and construction management assistance; the development of SPCC Plans for substations, which is also ongoing; and the upgrade of relays for SCADA improvements at substations.

Jopa Transmission and Generator Step-up Substations

Electric Energy, Inc.

Joppa Transmission and Generator Step-up Substations

Commonwealth provided transmission system studies, engineering, construction management, and start-up services for a new 345/161 kV substation, three associated 161 kV transmission line segments, and a 161 kV CT generator step-up substation near Joppa, Illinois.

Prior to initiating the design work, Commonwealth performed a transmission system impact study to determine the feasibility of installing an EEI connection to the regional 345 kV transmission system. Once the feasibility was confirmed, a detailed facility study was prepared to identify how the new substation, the existing 161 kV power sources, and 225 MW of proposed new generation at Joppa should be connected into the 161 kV and 345 kV transmission systems.

Design of the new 345/161 kV substation involved complete site preparation and layout, installation of a 345/161 kV transformer rated at 339/451/600 MVA, and three 345 kV and four 161 kV circuit breakers. Additional work included development of all aluminum bus work, steel support structures, cables, monitoring and control equipment, relaying and metering equipment, a 480 volt auxiliary power system, fiber-optic communication facilities, and a control house.

Design services were provided for the 161 kV step-up substation to feed power from five new 45 MW combustion turbine generators to the EEI 161 kV system. This involved installation of four 13.9/161 kV transformers and the associated circuit breakers, disconnect switches, and all related aluminum buswork, fittings, insulators, cabling, and steel structures.

Three overhead 161 kV lines on wood and steel structures were designed to connect the 345/161 kV substation and the step-up substation to the 345 kV grid and to the existing 161 kV substation at the adjacent Joppa Steam Plant.

Commonwealth also provided continuous on-site construction management during the four-month construction period. Commonwealth managed and coordinated the construction activities, working with the general contractor (New Rivers Electric) and EEI inspectors. Following construction, Commonwealth provided expertise during testing and startup of the new substation facilities.

Relocation of NIPSCo Electric Transmission Lines for Airport Expansion

Gary/Chicago International Airport

Relocation of NIPSCo Electric Transmission Lines for Airport Expansion

Commonwealth was selected to be the Owner's Engineer by the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority to provide engineering services to relocate Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCo) overhead transmission lines to obtain the FAA required additional airspace in the runway approach corridor for their runway expansion project. Lines to be relocated in this 3,000-foot section of NIPSCo transmission right-of-way included two parallel 345 kV circuits on self-supporting steel poles, a 138 kV circuit on lattice towers, and a 34.5 kV circuit on wood poles.

Approximately eight options were evaluated; the option recommended by Commonwealth obtained a 40 percent cost reduction. This solution required the design and installation of a 340 MVA 345/138 kV substation, two 138 kV underground transmission lines, one 34.5 kV underground line, and miscellaneous medium-voltage line construction.

Commonwealth provided for all phases of the project engineering design, material procurement documents and evaluations, construction bid request documents and evaluations, construction packages, and engineering support during construction. All issues during construction were resolved successfully, and the project was completed ahead of schedule and within the budget in the last quarter of 2008.

A key factor in the reduction of the project construction cost was the elimination of the 345 kV underground transmission line. Due to capacity requirements the two 345 kV lines required an overhead to underground transition station at each end. To reduce costs Commonwealth designed a new 345/138 kV substation to replace these transition stations and the two 345 k underground transmission lines. The 345 kV yard of the existing substation was decommissioned and the 300 MVA transformer was moved to the new 345/138 kV substation. The bare ground design for the new substation included all phases of civil construction for site preparation, foundations, structures, driveways, fencing, etc.

Electrical design included 345 kV breakers, a 138 kV circuit switcher, substation and transformer protection and controls, grounding, station power, lighting protection, station lighting, 138 kV underground transmission terminations and protection, and fiber optic communication lines.

In the transmission right of way, Commonwealth provided overhead design to reconfigure and remove a portion of the two existing 345 kV self-supporting steel pole circuits, the 138 kV circuit on steel lattice towers, and the 34.5 kV circuit on wood poles. Designs were provided for 345 kV dead-end structures, 138 kV dead-end and underground transition structures, and 34.5 kV dead-end and underground transition structures.

Underground transmission line design was provided for two new 138 kV and 34.5 kV lines, a fiber optic communication circuit, and a 12 kV feeder for station power circuits. To reduce material costs without losing capacity or reliability a 1600 MM (3156 kcmil) lead- sheathed aluminum 138 kV cable was used for the underground transmission lines. One 138 kV underground transmission line was installed to reconnect the two substations, and the second was installed to replace the overhead portion of the existing 138 kV lattice tower transmission line in the affected portion of the corridor.

Underground construction in this area presented a major challenge, as the water table varies with the direction of the wind on Lake Michigan. The required splicing vaults had to consider this and were designed for negative buoyancy. Due to the future construction and soils, the duct banks were designed for H20 highway loads and several future railroad relocations were provided for. Due to the existence of major industry related to oil refineries, several surprises were encountered during construction. One example was a 50-inch concrete process water line and some abandoned crude oil lines. Since the underground construction occurred during winter, the concrete mix had to be readjusted for cold temperatures while retaining the necessary thermal properties to obtain the required transmission line power capacity.

Smart Grid Initiative Project

MEAG Power

Smart Grid Initiative Project

Commonwealth was selected to plan and manage engineering, procurement, and construction services for 128 Smart Grid substation projects over a 3-year period. Serving as MEAG Power's project manager, our responsibilities include assigning work to the consultants and MEAG Power staff, purchasing equipment and materials, coordinating construction and commissioning, contributing to progress reports submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy, and performing other services required to keep the project running smoothly.

In the engineering phase, we completed initial site assessments at each site that was to be upgraded. This consisted of an inventory of existing equipment, configuration, and conditions at each site with an emphasis on discovering as many unknowns as possible before scoping the details of engineering, procurement, and construction. This gave us an opportunity to resolve many of the issues and provided a means for establishing the demarcation of scope between Smart Grid items and those that fell within normal station projects.

Recognizing the importance of good communication throughout the project, Commonwealth developed a project website that serves as a distribution mechanism and repository for project documents, status reports, and other pertinent project information. Security levels are maintained to control delivery of appropriate information to each project participant.

Risk assessment is also an important part of the project. We evaluated risks, such as material lead times, summer peak outage requirements, and continuity of construction operations and developed general action plans for each high-priority risk that could have affected the project outcome.

Arrowhead 345 kV Substation Addition

Minnesota Power

Arrowhead 345 kV Substation Addition

Commonwealth provided engineering services to add a 345 kV substation, along with power transfer control equipment, to the Arrowhead to Gardner Park 345 kV transmission line project. The project consisted of modifications to the existing 230 kV switchyard and addition of the following equipment:

  • 230 kV phase shift transformer
  • 230 kV gas circuit breakers
  • 345-230 kV autotransformer bank
  • 345 kV switchyard with three 345 kV gas circuit breakers
  • 345 kV capacitor bank
  • 345 kV shunt reactor bank
  • New control house with related control/protection systems
Haddam 345 / 115 / 23 kV Substation

Northeast Utilities

Haddam 345/115/23 kV Substation

Commonwealth provided engineering design, material bid packages, and construction bid packages for rebuilding a bulk power substation. The substation consisted of a new 345 kV switchyard for a tapped line, autotransformer, 115 kV breaker-and-a-half switchyard for five lines, 115 kV capacitor bank, two 115/23 kV transformers, two 23 kV switchgear housings, new control house, ac and dc auxiliary systems, protection/relay/control systems, SCADA, and a DFR.

One of the more interesting challenges at Haddam was determining the best way to minimize outages as the new substation was constructed near the old one. The basic plan required continued operation of the 34.5 kV distribution system during the construction period. To accomplish this, phased construction and cutover activities were developed to support operational needs.

First, a portion of the new 115 kV and 34.5 kV station was constructed and then interconnected with the existing 115 kV. The interconnection also required some temporary protection circuitry to ensure reliability of the system. Interconnecting the two stations allowed swing of three 115 kV lines from the old station to the new. Also during this period, staged cutovers of 34.5 kV cable circuits occurred.

Second, after reconfiguring the 34.5 kV and 115 kV circuits, it was possible to remove the old 115 kV and 34.5 kV facilities, making room for the new. Existing foundations, duct banks, grounding conduits, equipment, and control house were all removed in this phase.

Third, within the area now cleared, the 115 kV station was finished, the new autotransformer bank installed, and the 345 kV yard constructed. The 345 kV yard was strategically developed to allow tapping of an existing overhead 345 kV line, including consideration for further expansion into a 4-breaker ring bus with a second autotransformer bank.

Covert Plant Switchyard Design and Commissioning


Covert Plant Switchyard Design and Commissioning

Commonwealth was involved with the 1200 MW Covert Generating Station during its infancy in the conceptual design phase. Commonwealth assisted the owner, PG&E National Energy Group (NEG), with the interconnection into the Consumers Energy (Michigan) 345 kV bulk power transmission grid.

Commonwealth reviewed the proposed interconnection facilities and system impact studies prepared by Consumers Energy and American Electric Power Company. Commonwealth provided transmission interconnection concepts and design requirements, transmission line and plant switchyard facility concepts, cost estimates, review of plant reactive power capabilities, system impacts for power sales, and review of facility and interconnection agreement contracts.

PG&E NEG then chose Commonwealth to perform the detail design of the Covert 345 kV Switchyard, which was arranged as a 4-breaker ring with ultimate expansion to a six-breaker ring. Detailed engineering and design services included site development, civil, structural, physical electrical, protection and control, and SCADA. Commonwealth also acted as PG&E NEG's liaison between the transmission provider (Consumers Energy) and the power plant designer (Stone & Webster) to initiate interface requirements. Other responsibilities included equipment procurement, cost tracking/scheduling, startup, and commissioning.

Similar projects by PG&E NEG were typically done as turnkey, where a contract would be awarded to a company that would finance the entire cost of the project, including equipment, engineering, and construction. Commonwealth was able to provide PG&E National Energy Group with a savings of over $2 million by having separate contracts developed for each piece of major equipment with Commonwealth managing procurement.

Downtown Milwaukee Reliability Project - Phase II

Wisconsin Electric Power Company

Downtown Milwaukee Reliability Project - Phase II

Commonwealth supported UTEC Constructors, Inc. with engineering and permitting services for 8.5 miles of 138 kV underground transmission line in downtown Milwaukee.

The 138 kV underground line used a high-pressure, fluid-filled (HPFF), pipe-type cable system insulated with 490 miles of paper insulation. Commonwealth provided design engineering, survey coordination, and permitting services for the project.

Seven 138 kV circuits and numerous manhole vaults were installed. Three of the circuits were new, two circuits were replaced, and two circuits were re-routed.

The work included installing pipe-type cable under city streets, highways, railroads, canals, and rivers. Portions of the route also included a four-inch HDPE conduit for a fiber optic communication link between substations.

The project also involved extensive surveying to carefully align the cable pipe under busy city streets already underlain by an extensive network of sewer, water, gas, steam, signal, and other electrical lines. Long borings were required to cross under two rivers and Interstate Highway 43, and shorter boring crossed under several urban railroad lines. Extensive coordination with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation was needed to cross under four elevated interstate highways that were in the process of being rebuilt. The new lines greatly improve Wisconsin Electric's capability to deliver power to downtown-Milwaukee customers.


Electric and Magnetic Field and Noise Calculations for the Hudson 115 kV Lines

National Grid

Electric and Magnetic Field and Noise Calculations for the Hudson 115 kV Lines

Commonwealth computed the levels of electrical and magnetic fields and audible noise produced by National Grid's Hudson 115 kV transmission lines in eastern New York. Calculations were made for both existing conditions and for anticipated conditions after a second circuit was added. The new double-circuit line was to comprise four segments, two of which would consist of two single-circuit structures side-by-side on the existing right-of-way and two of which would consist of double-circuit structures.

The nominal loading on the existing line varied by segment from 312 to 335 amps carried on a 795 ACSR (Condor) conductor with a nominal mid-span clearance of 22 feet. As a double-circuit line, the existing circuit was to be reduced to a loading of 142 to 166 amps depending on the segment location. The new conductor would carry 167 to 168 amps using the same conductor and clearance specifications.

Commonwealth performed the calculations using ENVIRO, a TLWorkstation program developed by the Electric Power Research Institute. For each of the four segments, Commonwealth calculated electric and magnetic fields and audible noise levels for operation at 115 kV and operation at a maximum voltage of 121 kV. For 115 kV operation, calculations were duplicated for six possible combinations of phasing to determine which produced the minimum levels of magnetic field at the edge of the right-of-way.

The calculated electric and magnetic fields and noise levels were summarized in a series of tables and curves, both displaying the maximum values and the declining values as distance from the circuit increased. The right-of-way centerline and boundaries were plotted on the curves to show the location on the right-of-way of the maximum vales and the values at the edge of the right-of-way.

United States Department of Energy - National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Conceptual Design of Advanced Wind Farm Stations

Commonwealth participated in the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) assessment of advanced large-scale wind power generation by preparing conceptual designs for extensive wind farms using generators up to 10 MW in size.

Commonwealth prepared alternative designs for facilities to support a 50 MW wind farm theoretically located in a high-wind area of South Dakota. Four sizes of advanced wind generators capable of producing 750 KW and 2, 5, and 10 MW were considered. For each generator size, Commonwealth produced a conceptual layout of a wind farm showing the position of each generator and designed the balance-of-station facilities, including electrical substation, collector system, generator foundations, communication and control systems, meteorological equipment, access roadways, crane pads, and maintenance offices. Commonwealth also prepared comparative cost estimates for each alternative.

The project was conceived under the U.S. DOE's Wind Partnerships for Advanced Component Technologies (WindPACT) program at the U.S. DOE's Midwest Research Institute near Golden, Colorado. The program explored the most advanced wind generating technologies available for improving the cost-competitive aspects of wind generation. Using recently developed aerospace materials and manufacturing processes, other consultants worked in parallel with Commonwealth to examine the feasibility of manufacturing the huge composite blades for 80- to 120-meter rotors, the logistics of moving and erecting the rotors and generators at a remote site, and the development of self-erecting tower and nacelle facilities necessary to support the heavy elevated rotors and generators. NREL indicated that, to be cost competitive with fossil-fuel generating systems, wind generators must achieve a 20 percent decrease in current costs.

The Commonwealth study concluded that the massive concrete foundations needed to support the elevated rotors and generators were the most significant component of the balance-of-station costs. Present foundation designs, especially when scaled to the larger wind turbine machines, did not exhibit declining cost per unit of electricity generated. More cost-effect foundation designs for large wind generators are a key subject for future research.

System Impact Study / Transient Stability Analysis

Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative

System Impact Study / Transient Stability Analysis

Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative (WPSC) contracted with Commonwealth to provide a system impact study for the interconnection of a third-party generator (IPP) near Kalkaska, Michigan.

The IPP intended to generate approximately 50 MW of peaking power and connect to WPSC's South Boardman-Alba 68 kV transmission line with a single-circuit tap approximately 2,300 feet in length.

Commonwealth performed a transient stability study for the addition of the new generation using the SDDWG/ECAR model, modified to include details of the new substation. The plant has a maximum capability of 60 MW. The specific case studied was that of a fault on the line near the plant and cleared by opening the line.

The system has a critical clearing time of only 4 cycles for the close-in three-phase fault. Assuming a normal clearing time of 6 cycles, 60 MW of new generation would not be stable for this three-phase fault. The system is stable for a single-line-to-ground fault.

A sensitivity analysis was performed to determine the critical clearing time for the plant at nominal 50 MW. At 50 MW output, the critical clearing time is at 6 cycles.

The studies were performed using Commonwealth's TRANSMISSION 2000® Power Flow and Transient Stability programs. These programs are capable of solving the largest available models, presently more than 50,000 buses.


Hunters Creek - Tuscola 120 kV Transmission Line

International Transmission Company

Hunters Creek - Tuscola 120 kV Transmission Line

Commonwealth performed environmental studies for 40 miles of double-circuit 120 kV transmission line right-of-way and prepared detailed permit applications for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

Commonwealth biologists delineated the wetlands on a 100-foot-wide right-of-way across cropland and forested river bottoms between Lapeer and Tuscola in southeastern Michigan. Detailed wetland maps at a scale of 100 feet to the inch were prepared on aerial photographs.

Working with the engineering team, Commonwealth's environmental staff transferred the wetland boundaries to the engineer's plan and profile drawings. For the permit applications, Commonwealth plotted the location of the new transmission line structures on the wetland maps and enumerated the amount of fill the project would place in wetlands.

Sketches were made of the proposed mat road design and temporary bridges needed to enable equipment to cross streams. Commonwealth completed the MDEQ forms electronically and produced the text, tables, drawings, and maps to complete the application.

In response to concerns from the Michigan Endangered Species Coordinator, Commonwealth conducted a search for specific species on the Threatened and Endangered Species list. One species of vegetation that flowers in the fall required a separate search of wetland habitats during the September flowering season.

Archaeologists from Commonwealth Cultural Resources Group performed a records search for known archaeological and historical records along the transmission line right-of-way to determine if cultural resources might become a concern to the State Historic Preservation Officer.

Morgan Substation 69 kV Project Permitting and GIS Mapping

Wabash Valley Power Association

Morgan Substation 69 kV Project Permitting and GIS Mapping

Commonwealth conducted a wetland delineation survey and prepared road right-of-way use permit applications for construction of a 4.5-mile 69 kV transmission line in Porter County, Indiana. Extensive GIS maps were developed to support the permitting and right-of-way acquisition efforts.

Commonwealth performed a detailed routing study to identify the transmission line route with the least amount of impacts that would connect the new Morgan Substation with an existing transmission line south of Valparaiso, Indiana, in Porter County. Potential routes were identified by examining aerial photography and available Geographic Information System (GIS) data sets. A field inventory was then performed to identify additional constraints not visible on the aerial photography.

Of the two tap locations identified, only one was considered feasible from a transmission reliability standpoint (Tap B on the map below). Criteria used for selecting the preferred route focused on maximizing overbuilds where feasible to minimize the need for acquiring new right-of-way. Housing counts were calculated to determine how many residences would be impacted along each potential route.

Current and future land use plans were studied to determine the potential impacts of future growth on the proposed line. One of the alternative routes was shorter in length, but future City of Valparaiso plans include annexing part of the area through which the route travels, with plans to widen roads, add bike paths, and create gateway entrances to the city. As the new line was to be an overbuild of existing distribution lines located one foot inside road right-of-way, this route was not selected as the preferred route because future land use plans show that portions of the new line would probably have to be relocated within a couple of years.


345 kV Realignment for I-69 Extension Project

Indianapolis Power and Light Company

345 kV Realignment for I-69 Extension Project

The extension of highway I-69 south of Indianapolis, Indiana, required IPL to relocate various portions of two of its existing 345 kV transmission lines. In addition to engineering and environmental services, Commonwealth provided a full range of land acquisition services to facilitate the relocation. In total, the project included 9 separate locations and 40 landowners. The new easements were a combination of previously impacted and virgin parcels.

Commonwealth's services included right-of-entry, survey coordination, market analysis, document preparation, negotiations, closings and payment distribution, damage settlements, and coordination with the Indiana Department of Transportation. The road project, as well as considerations for the endangered Indiana bat, forced a demanding schedule, which required the work to be accelerated and performed highly efficiently. Commonwealth's efforts allowed all of the easements and laydown yards to be secured within the schedule's requirements.

Texas Rd. and Milham Rd. Roundabout Project

Kalamazoo County / City of Portage

Texas Rd. and Milham Rd. Roundabout Project

Commonwealth teamed with OHM in responding to the request for proposal for the subject project. The project involved the installation of a roundabout using CMAQ funds; sidewalk/bike path lanes were also included in the project design. As part of the project, but directly funded by the locals, acquisitions were required in all four quadrants. Three of the quadrants required permanent road easements and all four quadrants required temporary easements for grading and work area. The RFP required appraisals and survey to be included under the engineering portion of the project, but Commonwealth was responsible for oversight of the appraiser's work. Commonwealth was tasked with making the initial contact (preliminary interview) with the owners to provide a general description of the project and the acquisition process. These meetings led to extensive landowner questions and concerns related to the flow of traffic and the impacts to the businesses located in three quadrants. To resolve these concerns, Commonwealth eventually organized a group meeting with the owners, project stakeholders, and engineers, which allowed direct responses and resolution to the majority of the owner concerns.

Commonwealth also coordinated surveying and appraisal activities with the owners and appropriate firms. Appraisal reports were obtained for three quadrants while Commonwealth prepared a market analysis for the fourth. Upon completion of the appraisals and reviews, we prepared the acquisition documents and presented the good faith offers to acquire the necessary rights. The demands of the negotiations varied with each owner, but each presented their own complexities. One quadrant focused on the impact to future development due to the uncertainty surrounding roundabouts, while another was keenly concerned with landscape issues and an aging clientele, and yet another about direct impacts to the business during the construction. Putting forth extraordinary effort and coordinating closely with the stakeholders and engineering solutions were found to meet all of the owner concerns and the acquisitions were completed to allow bid letting as required for timely construction.


Susquehanna-Roseland 500 kV Transmission Line

Commonwealth is providing real estate acquisition and related land services to PSEG for the New Jersey portion of the Susquehanna to Roseland transmission line. In total, the Susquehanna to Roseland line involves the construction of approximately 140 miles of 500 kV transmission line. The New Jersey portion constitutes approximately 45 miles of the line, and the final design includes a double-circuit 230/500 kV segment. Approximately 450 owners in 15 municipalities are impacted by the power line and/or construction access easements and environmental perimeters. Our web-based project database maintains an accurate history of landowner, municipality, and government agency interactions, providing easy access to information valuable for management decisions impacting the project.

Commonwealth team members are the first contact point with many landowners and become the primary communication channel between the landowners and PSEG. We have developed relationships to improve communications that help solve typical access issues. Commonwealth representatives are the ones that landowners contact to determine which aspects of a newspaper article are accurate. Building these trusting relationships has led to landowner contributions to solutions, often suggesting alternative approaches to gaining access that avoid environmental or other constraints and are valuable to achieving project goals. Our “on the ground,” site-specific knowledge resulting from multiple visits and our relationships is regularly contributed in project planning and strategy meetings. We are regularly in the field coordinating civil and environmental surveyors, soil boring crews, constructability and other contractors, and touring potential overhead contractors during the bid process—providing site-specific details to optimize their efforts.

Commonwealth's services include securing right of entry, coordinating surveying activities, performing parcel and title research, securing appraisals, contributing to permit applications and negotiations, assisting with siting activities, and acquiring permanent and temporary easements, in addition to easement modifications to facilitate the construction of the line.

Acquisition of Property for Airport Expansion

Southwest Michigan Regional Airport

Acquisition of Property for Airport Expansion

Commonwealth team members provided overall Project Management activities and services for the fee acquisition of 253 properties, as well as 160 avigation easements, as part of the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport's Runway Safety Compliance project in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Due to intermittent state and federal funding involved, the project was distributed across five primary phases and numerous sub-phases. A part of our Project Management services included the securing of appraisal reports, acquisition, relocation, and curative title services, as well as ancillary services involving environmental surveys, civil surveys, engineering services, and demolition management. Our overall, pre-counsel, settlement rate exceeded 92% and less than 1% required trial.

Since the composition of the project consisted of owner and tenant occupants, 175 residential displacements were necessary under the procedures and requirements of the Uniform Relocation and Real Property Acquisition Act of 1970, as amended (URA). For this reason, Southwest Michigan Regional Airport wanted the project executed in manner that would promote positive public perception. As such, Commonwealth tailored the relocation plan and subsequent responsibilities to strike a balance between the needs of the SWMRA and residents, in addition to local government and businesses.

The final phase of the project was expanded to include the acquisition of 160 avigation easements needed for height restriction obstructions affiliated with the SWMRA flight path approach. Commonwealth proposed and executed an accelerated easement acquisition plan, which saved the project an estimated $1 million and 4-6 months in project schedule.

The project was recognized as a great success by the stakeholders, state and federal agencies, and affected property owners. Commonwealth's performance and the success of the project were significant basis for the selection of Commonwealth as the recipient of the 2007 Airport Consultant of the Year award presented by Michigan Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Division.

Holmes Road Improvement Project

Washtenaw County Road Commission

Holmes Road Improvement Project

Commonwealth's responsibilities and tasks included securing an assortment of permanent easements, grading permits, and tree removal agreements on approximately 120 parcels for the improvement and widening of Holmes Road for the Washtenaw County Road Commission project in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The improvements included grade change, utility relocations, and creation of bike lanes, in addition to the installation of sidewalks, curbs, and gutters. Impacted owners included residences, gas stations, restaurants, small businesses, a shopping center, a church, and a public school.

The project primarily consisted of non-compensated grading permits, allowing the reconstruction of driveways and the installation of sidewalks within existing road right-of-way. In addition, where necessary, we secured agreements for the removal of trees and other landscape, which impaired or prevented the planned construction. Also, where necessary, permanent road and sidewalk easements were secured using market analysis and appraisal waivers, where compensation was required. Further responsibilities included coordination of surveying and engineering-related tasks with property owners. Right-of-way acquisition for this project followed the Federal Highway Administrations procedures and regulations. The project was completed with 100% of the rights required for construction being obtained.


Demonstration Map

Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

Demonstration Map

Commonwealth's GIS specialists prepared a demonstration map for a scenic railroad showing points of interest and illustrating the change in topographic relief along the rail line. Digital terrain modeling was used to give the map depth along the mountain ranges.

System Map


System Map

Commonwealth's GIS technicians prepared a map of the Vectren power system including substation locations and transmission lines from historic paper maps, engineering drawings, and CAD drawings of more recent improvements to create a GIS-based map. As Vectren added improvements to their system, Commonwealth incorporated the new information into the system as well as proposed facilities. Challenges included geo-referencing paper maps and older engineering drawings.


Casing Record Search

Consumers Energy

Casing Record Search

In order to update its GIS system, Consumers Energy needed to search records to identify gas distribution pipeline casing filler locations. To that end, 350 boxes of archived records needed to be searched for work orders that would show whether filler was used in each casing section and provide necessary geographic coordinates.

Consumers Energy provided office space, copy equipment, and computer hardware and software for the project as well as program-specific training on its GIS system for four Commonwealth personnel placed at Consumers. This staff searched the archived files, copied work orders, recorded findings in Consumer's spreadsheet, and input data into the GIS system. Commonwealth provided project management, scheduling, and coordination, as the workers were not always assigned to the same building, and, for short periods of time, not even the same city!

This project was completed early and under budget.

Operating Maps for ITC-Midwest Circuits

ITC Holdings

Operating Maps for ITC-Midwest Circuits

Commonwealth was contracted to create operating maps for approximately 600 individual circuits in the ITC-Midwest transmission system.

To begin the process, ITC staff extracted transmission line information from their current GIS system and delivered them electronically to Commonwealth. Commonwealth CADD operators then placed the extracted information into MicroStation files created using ITC standards, borders, and title blocks.

Construction diagrams and location tables were provided by ITC for reference. Commonwealth placed major highways, street names, and other locational details on the maps. We then identified substations, breakers, taps, and pole-top switches on the newly created drawings.

Additional operating maps were created for “protection zones” in which more than one circuit was included in a map.

Convert Aperture Card Images to Electric Files


Convert Aperture Card Images to Electronic Files

ITC-Midwest acquired Alliant Energy's Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL) high-voltage electric power lines and substations (34.5 kV and above) in Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois. With that acquisition came over 43,000 equipment vendor drawings, bills of material, and other miscellaneous drawings on microfiche aperture cards.

To speed its ability to read these drawings, ITC-Midwest contracted with Commonwealth Associates, Inc. to convert the cards to electronic files. The ITC-Midwest team in Dubuque, Iowa, shipped the aperture cards to Commonwealth, where we catalogued each card and sent them on to our imaging subcontractor for conversion to *.tif format. Once scanned, the cards and electronic images were returned to Commonwealth, where we quality checked and catalogued each image before sending them on to ITC-Midwest for inclusion in its on-line document management system. We also checked to be sure all physical cards had been returned before sending them back to ITC-Midwest for archiving to off-site storage.

Dcoument Turnover and Management

Michigan Electric Transmission Company

Document Turnover and Management

As part of its transmission system purchase from Consumers Energy, Michigan Electric Transmission Company (METC) needed to separate drawing and document control and management from Consumers Energy. This meant taking physical possession of large quantities of drawings, paper documents, electronic documents, and microfilm and microfiche records.

Commonwealth provided a project manager to assist with turnover and quality control. Two full-time CADD operators and two engineering aides comprised our technical team; other staff within Commonwealth assisted as needed. Drawings for well over 100 substations were transferred from Consumers Energy to Commonwealth as part of this project.

While some drawings were received as electronic files that only needed to be updated to METC's drafting standards, many were received as paper or Mylar. Commonwealth staff scanned some of those drawings in-house, while others were sent to an outside vendor for scanning. A good number were also received as microfiche aperture cards. These cards were sent to an off-site scanning service. All drawings were returned to Commonwealth along with *.tif files of each. Our team of CADD operators converted them to a suitable format to be attached to a MicroStation drawing updated with new METC borders and logos. Pertinent drawing information was added to each file's title block and a *.pdf was created for each completed file. New files were quality checked, catalogued, and submitted to METC for inclusion in its online document management system.

Various Owner's Engineering Services

Northern Indiana Public Service Co.

Circuit Rating Documentation Update

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) requires that the ratings of electric facilities be documented to ensure that all series elements are taken into consideration. In response to NERC's rules, Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCo) decided to update information by building new spreadsheets to better document their facilities. Commonwealth's Data Management team used data and drawings provided by NIPSCo to create circuit ratings summary spreadsheets documenting types and ratings for busses, conductors, disconnect switches, transformers, and breakers for approximately 150 circuits.

Plan and section drawings, single-line diagrams, and old-format circuit spreadsheets were provided to Commonwealth as reference files via FTP site, weekly progress reports were presented to NIPSCo via conference call, and occasional visits were made by the Commonwealth project team to NIPSCo's office in Merrillville, Indiana, for face-to-face meetings and hard-copy drawing exchanges. A final report, including a list of the standardizations created, was delivered via email and all new, final spreadsheets were delivered via FTP.

The first week of any project of this nature is always the most challenging, as our team gets to know the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the data and drawings from each client. Since we were creating new circuit ratings spreadsheets for this project rather than updating information in existing spreadsheets, we took advantage of the opportunity to streamline some processes, reorganize the presentation of the data, and normalize to only using industry-standard abbreviations whenever possible. The new data sheets present the necessary information in a concise and consistent format that can be easily updated electronically as necessary.

This project had a tight schedule and tighter budget. Both were met.

Various Owner's Engineering Services

Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

NERC Project Transmission Line Document Research and Recovery

The electric transmission document research and recovery project for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) was initiated to verify that documents critical to the maintenance and operation of the electric transmission system are available, to identify opportunities to improve document storage, and to provide information where documents need attention. This records analysis is needed to support analysis to verify the as-built condition of the electric transmission system.

A team of PG&E staff (with some help from the vendor tasked with performing analysis) completed research and recovery for Priority 1 records and identified spans that may have missing records or issues. PG&E then determined their staff was needed on other projects and contracted with Commonwealth to complete the research and recovery process for over 800 circuits that made up Priority 2 and Priority 3.

Commonwealth opened an office just a few blocks from PG&E's Oakland, California office and hired a team of three temporary staff in Oakland as the main project team. Their task was to search PG&E's Engineering Library System (ELS), GIS and Field Data Services (GIS) database, and on-site reference files to determine if structure data sheets, profile drawings, and stringing charts were available as electronic files. This core team was supported by two additional staff in Commonwealth's Jackson, Michigan office. Project Manager, Diane Wilkie, worked primarily from the Jackson office, with monthly visits to the California offices.

Using PG&E-issued laptop computers, our team was able to VPN into PG&E's systems from any of our offices, or use drop-in spaces in PG&E's office when it was necessary to be on-site. Our working files were maintained on a project SharePoint site for ease of information sharing.

Commonwealth also provided an engineer for design review and verification that conductor on existing drawings matched conductor recorded in the GIS database. PG&E requested that engineer work in PG&E's Oakland office for the duration of the project. Dave Green, from our Mt. Vernon, Washington office, volunteered for the temporary re-assignment to Oakland. After five months, Dave has completed the task and he, his wife, and their two cats are now back home in Washington.

Various Owner's Engineering Services

Southern Company

CAPE Transmission System Model Build

Commonwealth's Data Management team worked under the direction of Project Manager Ian Hutt and the Electrical Systems Department to update the short-circuit model of Southern Company's 115 kV, 230 kV, and 500 kV electrical system with system simulator capability.

After a two-day training session, the team used the CAPE (Computer-Aided Protection Engineering) program to enter line thermal ratings and relay settings from hand-written setting sheets. VPN access to the Southern Company data library allowed us to gather the most current relay settings for information transfer. All settings were then checked for errors before the project database was turned over to the engineers to run the system simulations.

Project progress was tracked in an Excel spreadsheet which was shared with the client weekly so that questions and concerns could be addressed quickly.

This is just one example of the many projects in which our Data Management team has assisted project engineers across Commonwealth departments. Their adeptness and adoptability to using multiple programs helps speed the data entry process, freeing the engineers to analyze results, and keeping costs to customers down.


Various Power Generation Services

Wayne State University

Reliability Evaluation and Design Study

Commonwealth is providing engineering services in support of WSU's wish to improve the electrical reliability for buildings that use equipment for research purposes. The high-level approach is to provide an evaluation of the building's electrical system and schematic design level study, including opinion of cost for determining research equipment loads, which require either UPS or emergency generator backup. These services include evaluation of physical space requirements and feasibility to locate new equipment, both indoor (UPS, electrical panels, transfer switches, etc.) and outdoor (generator). Based on the resulting analysis, Commonwealth will generate a schematic design study in report form for building electrical modifications that includes:

  • An electrical one-line of the existing building.
  • An electrical one-line demolition drawing that shows equipment recommended for removal.
  • New one-line that shows the recommended new electrical configuration.
  • A concept site plan that shows where new outdoor equipment would be placed along with concept details for structural, architectural, and screening requirements, as necessary.
  • Building concept floor plans showing the possible location of the new indoor electrical equipment.
  • A construction opinion of cost, including equipment cost estimates for major items.
Various Power Generation Services

University of Michigan

Tunnel Betterment Program - Roof Replacement; Building Life Safety Review

Commonwealth Associates, Inc. provided engineering services for the University of Michigan's (UM's) ongoing utility tunnel betterment program. Several projects have been performed including:

UM Tunnel Roof Replacement
The engineering services for the project focused on reinforcement and replacement of the existing concrete tunnel roof to allow safe fire vehicle access through this route without overstressing the tunnel structural components. Commonwealth evaluated additional options for feasibility and cost of construction, and to revise documents to conform to a new design option desired by UM. Commonwealth performed the following additional services to develop an additional option:

  • Perform studies involving concept documentation and opinions of cost for options that involved sidewalk relocation and other repair combinations.
  • Developed the cost estimates for comparison with previous tunnel options.
  • Perform structural analysis for the new selected tunnel option and approach.
  • Revise current CD documents to reflect the change to the new option.

UM Building Life Safety Review
Commonwealth Associates evaluated the existing life safety configurations and systems of the Central Power Plant on all levels of the building, including all roofs. Commonwealth's engineering services included:

  • Performance of an engineering and code analysis with respect to hazardous material storage, fire protection, and life-safety/egress.
  • Concept development for various options and solutions for deficiencies encountered.
  • Preparation of an estimate of probable cost for concept options and solutions.


Various Power Generation Services

Pulp and Paper Confidential Client

CHP Plant Design

Commonwealth Associates, Inc. provided engineering services for development of a new combined heat and power plant in Michigan. The team developed heat balances and cycle design described 23 MW of power with up to 163 kpph of steam at 600 psig and 750F. The design consisted of a Solar Titan 250 combustion turbine with a single pressure HRSG for the production of process steam. Commonwealth's scope included:

  • P&IDs development
  • Plant flow diagram
  • Electrical one-line diagram
  • DCS network architecture diagram
  • Preliminary foundation design
  • Material takeoffs for all mechanical, electrical, controls, and structural disciplines
  • Estimate of probable cost for the project
Various Power Generation Services


Roll Grinder and Inertia Block Installation Structural Services

Commonwealth's professionals were selected to perform civil and structural engineering services to support installation of a new roll grinder for the Severstal N.A., PLTCM Roll Shop. Commonwealth performed the following services in support of this project:

  • Delineation of the configuration for sheet piling and earth retention
  • Provision of demo and prep drawings for the grinder pit foundation
  • Preparation of installation details for electrical cabinets, hydraulic units, and cable and piping trenches
  • Delineation of requirements for pile caps, rebar, utility penetrations, imbedded steel, imbedded channels, and concrete
  • Delineation of replacement of concrete flooring to match the existing floor level and finish with the concrete doweled into the existing concrete
  • Delineation of inertia block configuration and rebar, Halfen channels, and concrete for inertia block
  • Provision of final construction drawings


Various Power Generation Services

Lansing Board of Water and Light

Eckert Station Electrical Distribution Flood Mitigation

Commonwealth Associates, Inc. provided engineering services for the Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL) towards evaluating flood protection for the electrical distribution yard and three MVA transformers located at the Eckert Power Plant. These services are being delivered in three phases:

  • Phase I - Baseline study to establish parameters for emergency planning
  • Phase II - Development of an emergency flood plan
  • Phase III - Development of permanent measures to mitigate flood hazard
Various Power Generation Services

Wolverine Power Cooperative

Sumpter Combustion Turbine Plant Grounding Project

Commonwealth provided engineering services in support of a grounding study for an existing simple cycle combustion turbine power plant. Commonwealth provided a study of the existing grounding system based on physical drawings and electrical system data to meet the safety requirements of IEEE Standard 80-2000, IEEE Guide for Safety in AC Substation Grounding. Commonwealth performed the following services in support of this project:

  • Grounding grid study
  • Construction drawing set of ground grid modifications
  • Development of an RFP for Wolverine's use to contract the installation of the grounding grid installation


Various Power Generation Services

Consumers Energy

J.H. Campbell Unit 3 - Cold Reheat Piping Restoration

Commonwealth Associates' staff was responsible for leading the restoration effort for the cold reheat piping system that sustained water hammer damage at the 840 MW coal-fired Campbell Unit 3. The same staff also led the project to replace flanges and elbows of the original welded cold reheat piping for the plant. Services included stress analysis per ASME B31.1 and the design of a temporary restraint system for the reheat piping.

Various Power Generation Services


Hatfield Station - Precipitator Building Fire Detection

Commonwealth provided engineering services to FirstEnergy for a field review and code analysis of the precipitator building and switchgear rooms per the IBC. Commonwealth performed the following in support of this project:

  • Fire code review for fire detection provisions in the electrical rooms
  • Engineering analysis to determine past and present requirements for fire detection code compliance for the precipitator building
  • Cost estimating for the study options and improvements
Various Power Generation Services

We Energies

Valley Power Plant - NOx Reduction Project

Commonwealth Associates' staff was responsible for technology selection and procurement documents, including technical specifications, bid evaluations, and recommendation for selection of equipment, to reduce NOx emissions from the 280 MW coal-fired cogeneration Valley Power Plant. The project consisted of burner replacement and evaluation of SNCR technologies. Engineering services provided included:

  • Technology reviews of burner vendors and SNCR vendors
  • Development of RFP documents for bid and performed bid evaluation
  • Development of installation drawings to support the selected vendor's equipment
  • Review of shop drawings and facilitated the installation contractor's cost estimate and work plan