Case Study: United Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Company Name: United Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Company Facts: Serves 8 counties in Northwest Missouri
Challenge: Four-year Construction Work Plan.
Finley Services: Designed the project, performed the bidding process, and supervised construction of 102 miles.
Results: New heavier-duty building standards on its spans/ lengths and conductor sizing, reducing the potential for future storm related damage.
United Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Savannah, Missouri) serves all or parts of eight counties in northwest Missouri, as well as parts of three counties in southwest Iowa. “We are a distribution co-op, and we don’t have a staff engineer,” said Mike Chellew, operations manager. “Finley Engineering has been our consulting engineer since about 1983.”
There are several things that the co-op likes about working with Finley. “They are a wellrounded company with a lot of experience and knowledge,” said Chellew. “They know what needs to be done, and they have a lot of knowledge about construction, including the placement of poles, and the strength, size and class of poles that are necessary. In addition, they have a good knowledge of system protection. Furthermore, they have a lot of integrity, as well as a fair price structure. They are less expensive than most of the others.”
Chellew tends to deal most often with Frank Brown, a project manager with Finley Engineering. “Frank had experience working for a utility before coming to Finley,” said Chellew. “He has done exceptionally good work for us over the years. For example, he was instrumental in helping us straighten out the coordination of some system protection.”
Chellew has also known Phil Carroll, vice president of the Power Group at Finley, for 30 years. “Phil came to Finley with a strong background and experience working for a utility,” said Chellew. “One thing Phil helped us with was a fiber optic project, including how to get the sag correct on our strand when we strung it underneath our power lines.”
Finley does a lot of work with UEC on line construction projects. “They typically come in and do line design and then stake that line for us,” he said.
In June 2012, for example, as part of a four-year Construction Work Plan (covering 2008 to 2011), Finley completed work on 78 miles of aerial line construction on UEC’s distribution system. The project involved project management, design, bidding of the construction, and supervision of the construction. The project management included generating construction staking sheets, materials lists, and construction invoices for the contract, as well as preparing bid packets and final close-out documents that were required by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS).
That same month, Finley completed work on an additional 24 miles of aerial line construction on UEC’s distribution system, as an extension of the 2008-2011 Construction Work Plan. This project also involved project management, design, bidding of the construction, and supervision of the construction. The project management included generating construction staking sheets, materials lists, and construction invoices for the contract, as well as preparing bid packets and final close-out documents that were required by the Rural Utilities Service.
“I work directly with Finley on the projects,” said Chellew. “However, on occasion, line superintendents will also contact Finley if they have specific issues or questions related to a construction project. Our line superintendents also work closely with Finley during staking activities.”
On the construction projects, Finley works directly with the contractors. “They put bid packets together, give us a list of contractors to choose from, we choose a group of them, and then Finley sends bid proposals to those contractors,” said Chellew. “When we look at the available contractors, we need to make sure we will be able to meet the requirements of the government procurement process, which means getting three bids and taking a good look at the least expensive bid.”
Fortunately, on the 78-mile and 24-mile projects, the least expensive bid came from a very large, well-respected contractor that had a lot of experience with large projects, so UEC was able to take advantage of a reasonable price and be assured that the contractor would be able to handle the scope of the projects. “In addition, if we ever have a major ice storm or other line damage, that contractor will be able to provide a large labor pool for us to pull from,” said Chellew.
Finley also helps UEC create its long-term construction plans, creating four-year Construction Work Plans for the utility. “We provide Finley with all of the information, including cost histories and projects that we want completed, and they correlate the information and put it into a Construction Work Plan,” said Chellew.
In September 2012, Finley completed a new four-year Construction Work Plan and Sectionalizing Study for UEC, covering 2013 to 2016. The study included three volumes of data, with digital copies of the final product on thumb drives, as well as hard copies.