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Burns & McDonnell to support PREPA’s grid revitalization process

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Kansas City-based Burns & McDonnell has been awarded a contract for program management services to support the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) with the revitalization of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid.

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The work will be primarily funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing.

“The sheer scale and widespread devastation and destruction caused by Hurricane María on the power grid has created an opportunity to completely rebuild it in a resilient and modern way,” said PREPA Executive Director Efran Paredes.

“We’re working to reduce energy costs, promote smart energy consumption and protect the environment. And ultimately and most importantly, we want to deliver a grid to the people of Puerto Rico that is resilient to severe weather conditions in the future. As the leader in transmission and distribution, we look to our new partnership with Burns & McDonnell to rebuild our electrical infrastructure,” he said.

The firm’s contract for program management services will include: project formulation and funding; project management; design management services; environmental and historic preservation services; construction management services; accounting services; procurement management services; program administration; and other business office functions.

The first priority for the Burns & McDonnell team, in collaboration with key stakeholders and advisers, is to create a portfolio of projects to be executed over the next 10 years, it stated.

The plan includes projects to revitalize the power grid and modernize it to meet Puerto Rico’s new energy policy as set forth by the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and other regulations approved by the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau.

“Other initial priorities will include strengthening the island’s transmission backbone, hardening or relocation of electric substations in flood areas, and strategic distribution underground,” the firm added.

Last year, the government, through the Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnership Authority (P3) awarded LUMA Energy a 15-year contract to operate and maintain Puerto Rico’s transmission and distribution (T&D) system.

“As program manager, Burns & McDonnell will also coordinate with LUMA to identify and prioritize projects that will lead to greater operation and maintenance efficiency,” the firm stated.

A team of employee-owners from Burns & McDonnell, including several from Puerto Rico, was deployed to the island after the 2017 hurricane to support grid restoration activities.

“Many of these employees will leverage knowledge gained about Puerto Rico’s power grid during the restoration work to also support various program management activities. Burns & McDonnell is also committed to investing in the community, with plans to hire local employees and engage local companies to support the multiyear project,” the company said.

For the last year, Burns & McDonnell has also been collaborating with PREPA to provide training for its engineering group in the areas of grid modernization technologies and seismic design. This has helped to fill a knowledge gap that was created by the loss of nearly 40% of PREPA’s highly skilled operational workforce, the company said.

“The island’s entire electric system will be rebuilt with more reliable and resilient standards,” says Gabriel Hernandez, general manager of Burns & McDonnell Caribbean. “We’re excited to bring our experience and leadership, while having new ideas for strengthening the grid.”

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.
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