How to Develop a Strong Process to Manage Contractors and Project Progress

  • April 05, 2016
  • Feature

Various State and Federal emissions regulations as well as continued competition and low natural gas prices are forcing utilities to shut down coal-fired power plants throughout the country. As plants continue to be decommissioned, the contracting, dismantling, and remediation strategies will continue to grow and evolve.

Jeff Pope, Manager of Facility Decommissioning & Demolition Services at Burns & McDonnell, recently spoke with marcus evans about topics to be discussed at the upcoming 2nd Power Plant Decommissioning Process Optimization Conference

What are best practices for developing an effective ash basin/pond closure plan in line with the CCR rule and other regulations?

JP: The most important step in the plan development is the decision of how the ash basin/pond will be closed. The most likely options include closure in place with the installation of an impermeable cap, or “clean” closure by removing all of the CCR materials. Establishment of the final closure approach will direct the development of the closure plan and post-closure requirements.

How does one go about instilling safety culture and appropriately training on hazard awareness and near incident reporting while ensuring productivity?

JP: For any project it starts with a commitment from all stakeholders including client, engineer, and contractors to conduct the project in a safe manner. Evaluation of the safety record and culture of potential contractors, as well as monitoring their performance during project execution is one of the most important ways to conduct a project in a safe manner. A daily focus on communicating the activities to be conducted at the site along with a consistent message/action from the client, engineer, and contractor management sends the correct message for safety awareness to all that are involved.  

As an EPC Firm, how does Burns & McDonnell manage subcontractor productivity and time lines and inform the utility / owner when scope creep occurs?

JP: Subcontractor productivity and schedule are managed by having an experienced onsite manager. In order to effectively manage the work, schedule, and budget, a strong management presence at the site is vitally important. This individual’s role is not to just monitor and report on the activities, but is to understand the contractor’s approach, and plan for the project. The onsite manager must understand the scope of the project thoroughly in order to be an effective onsite manager. This individual should be constantly looking beyond just the work at hand to determine if there are other ways to increase productivity. On the other hand, if there are issues or unknown conditions that arise, quick and concise communication of those issues with the client, along with optional solutions, will in turn minimize surprises.

What strategies are useful for overcoming challenges in relation to bidding and cost estimates and getting them to represent the full scope of work?

JP: The most effective strategy for development of bid documents and soliciting bids is to clearly identify the work to be conducted, explicitly identify the expected end result of an activity or task, and provide as much information on what will be encountered during the project to the potential contractors. Providing adequate time to visit the site, and asking questions related to the scope of work and expectations will allow for a better bid, and ultimately project execution. In order to keep all of the potential bidders on the same page, provide expected quantities for unit price items for the base price in order to eliminate potential assumptions made by bidders. Lastly, if there are possible activities that might arise at some point in the project as a change, ask for an alternate cost during the bid process; this makes it easier to issue a change order, but still allows for the change to be competitive during project implementation.

What should be accounted for when considering redevelopment of the site for a separate commercial or industrial application?

JP: Each site is different, however the most important items to consider are: utilities (natural gas, water, sewer, electric, communications) at the site, transportation access to the site (roads, waterways, rail), plan for demolition of the structures (full removal versus partial removal), transmission assets that must remain, and environmental impacts from past operations (fuels, PCBs, chemicals, CCR materials, etc.). All of these items should be thoroughly investigated and documented in order to help develop potential options for commercial or industrial reuse of the property.

Mr. Pope earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a licensed professional engineer. Mr. Pope has more than 32 years of experience of providing environmental services to various clients. His recent focus has been providing utilities and power cooperatives with engineering and onsite management assistance for the decommissioning and demolition of fossil-fired power plants. Mr. Pope also provides CCR related services assisting utilities with compliance with the federal CCR regulations including the planning for closure of ash ponds, ash landfills, coal piles, design of CCR containment pads, and conducting groundwater monitoring. Mr. Pope is currently managing or participating in the demolition, remediation or CCR services for 21 fossil-fired power plants around the United States. Join Jeff  at the 2nd Power Plant Decommissioning Process Optimization Conference, May 4-5, 2016 in Philadelphia, PA. 

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