“It was one challenge after
another. It seemed like
we never could catch a
break.… We worked closely
with state governments to
demonstrate our focus on
million budget. But there were major
It was one challenge after another. It seemed like we
never could catch a break. The state siting agency
was extremely focused on potential social impacts
because the power lines traversed many densely
populated neighborhoods. We also had unprecedented involvement from Native American tribes in
the area. To obtain our permit, we had to address all
of their concerns regarding preservation of historical artifacts and rock formations.
How did severe weather challenges, such as
Hurricane Sandy in 2012, affect the project?
The topography was very challenging, and Sandy
didn’t help. We encountered a number of severe
weather challenges such as microbursts, where
you get 2 to 5 inches [ 5 to 13 centimeters] of rain
within 30 minutes. We worked closely with state
governments to demonstrate our focus on environmental compliance.
What did all of these hurdles mean for the
During our initial planning, we assumed 12 to 18
months for the siting and permitting process and
a three-year construction window. But by the time
we got through all the siting requirements and the
added environmental and cultural consultations, we
ended up with less than two years of a construction
window. To help complete the project on schedule, we
developed a project execution plan that was consistent
with A Guide to the Project Management Body of
Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).
How did you complete three years of work
in two years?
Typically, there’s a lag between these five activities:
clearing the right of way for power lines, building
the access road, drilling the foundation, laying the
structure and stringing the cables. Our team developed a solution that allowed work to occur in multiple segments at the same time. We sequenced the
work so that contractors could work uninterrupted
on cable stringing and let the right-of-way, foundation and structure teams get ahead so that we could
minimize downtime. We had to implement close to
800 power outages for the surrounding areas.
Can you describe the stakeholder
management that required?
We had to go through eight municipalities—three in
Connecticut, five in Massachusetts—along with all
the local, state and federal agencies. Early on we put
together a comprehensive stakeholder communication plan. We never sugarcoated the impact people
would experience during construction. We weren’t
talking about guys driving up in a pickup truck with
a shovel. Construction activities involve concrete
trucks, excavators and cranes in people’s backyards.
So throughout the entire siting process, we had a
number of open houses where we educated municipal officials and residents. People could see exactly
where construction was going to occur. That put
them at ease.
How do lessons learned from that project
help with current initiatives?
The project managers directly involved on the
Springfield project entered lessons learned in a
database, which was shared with the project team
on the US$220 million Interstate Reliability Project,
the second leg of the East-West Solution Program.
For example, on the Springfield project, we learned
that sometimes there’s a delay in the distribution of
a drawing between the construction office and the
field, so there was a risk of something being built
without reflecting the latest drawing. Now people
have access to the most up-to-date drawings through
a software program.
You began your career as a mechanical
engineer. How did you transition into
In 1996, the nuclear power plant I was working for
in Connecticut was shut down. I was fortunate to
be assigned as the project manager on a US$400
million decommissioning project, which had over
1,000 team members. That was the start of my
project management career. PM
What’s the one
so they can make
the best decision.
The best professional advice you’ve
with people who are
smarter than you.
Soccer. I played in
college, and my
kids have grown
up playing as well.