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Partner Network Case Study

The EirGrid EWIP Route

The Project: The East West Interconnector Project (EWIP) is to connect EirGrid to the UK's National Grid through a sub-sea cable that starts in Ireland and passes under the Irish Sea coming ashore in the UK in Wales and routing to a connection station in Flintshire, a UK-side land route of almost 30km. The cable is to carry 5000 megawatts dc power.

The Client: EirGrid plc 'is the independent electricity Transmission System Operator (TSO) in Ireland and the Market Operator in the wholesale electricity trading system. EirGrid's role is to deliver quality connection, transmission and market services to generators, suppliers and customers utilising the high voltage electricity system, and to put in place the grid infrastructure required to support the development of Ireland's economy. It is a state-owned company.'

EirGrid appointed a dedicated in-house project team for EWIP, initial review for the Irish land-based side of the cable route were provided by ESBI, the sub-sea cable was assigned to J P Kenny, and Parsons Brinkerhoff Power engaged as consultants.

The missing component for the project was the ability to analyse and survey a 'Considered Route' for the UK land-side of the cable, and EirGrid went out to tender for this. The tender required utility / asset owner searches, integration of the returned plans into a single drawing (a Desktop Survey or 'Fusion Plan'), on-site surveys of particular parts of the route with CAD drawings, including 3d views of those parts of the route considered to be 'Pinch Points'.

The Challenge

The UK side of the EWIP route was almost 30km in length, passing through the jurisdiction of 2 authorities in rural and populated areas, encountering unknown issues relating to railways, pipelines and coal authority workings and ground stability.

Because National One Call has the best contact network in the UK we also know that many asset owners are only set up to deal with enquiries of a certain size, generally up to a maximum of 1km for a route, and most only accept up to only 0.5km for a route. Some charge for enquiries, others generally provide free plans but may make a charge for such an extensive route, particularly if presented with 60+ enquiries if they only accept 0.5km enquiries.

Some areas along the route for surveying would require traffic management while the surveyors were on-site, requiring co-ordination with the appropriate authority to comply with procedures and minimise traffic disruption.

Bidding for the Contract

With over 30 years experience of bidding for and winning contracts, and an impeccable history of delivery, National One Call knows how to win business - we also know what we are good at and when we need help from other specialists.

National One Call drew on its INSite Partner Network to identify possible partners for this project, which is exactly what the Partner Network is defined to do. The Partner had to have proven skills and capabilities for the surveying and CAD work, with National One Call providing the project management and its own core skills, that of making and managing of enquiries from utilities and asset owners.

Plowman Craven, through its Electrodetection business, joined with National One Call to put together a tender response to EirGrid. Notwithstanding the uncertainties and challenges, National One Call delivered a fixed-price proposal that allowed for costs to reduce but not to increase, and a timescale of delivery that was considerably less than the client had anticipated.

In March 2008, EirGrid awarded National One Call the contract for the UK land-side of the route and an approach was agreed that would maximise the speed of being able to review the considered route and minimise the number of on-site surveys undertaken until the route was proven viable.

Phase 1 - Review of the Considered Route

National One Call used its own Retriever service to make enquiries to all utilities / authorities / asset owners with a potential interest on the considered route, initially releasing a 'Consultation' enquiry to identify only those asset owners with an actual interest in the whole route, and returns were received from several organisations that stated they had no interest at all, i.e. did not have any services - buried or otherwise - that may be affected.

Enquiries were made to:

Those who did have an interest were issued with further enquiries to which they could respond to with plans or not-affected statements for that particular part of the route. As plans were received they were passed to Electrodetection for integration into the Fusion Plan for the route and scanned to be provided to the client on disc. As not-affected responses were received these were recorded in the Planning Packs and progress of the enquiries monitored.

Late responses were progress chased, requirements clarified and drawings QA'd for completeness and accuracy. Electrodetection undertook the topographical and service tracing surveying that had been agreed for Phase 1, and these were compared with what the Fusion Plan was telling us about that part of the route. National One Call liaised with EirGrid and PB Power to keep them up to date with progress, highlight any arising issues for early consideration and provide 'soft' copies of documents as they became available.

On April 30th, National One Call met with EirGrid and PB Power and completed Phase 1 by presenting the drawings, documents and reports, the details of which are of course commercially confidential. The timescale of completion was two months earlier than the client initially thought possible and because of the business acumen designed into the National One Call proposal the outturn cost was almost 15% lower than anticipated.

Phase 2 - Identifying the Actual Route

Phase 1 flagged up areas on the Considered Route that present engineering challenges, procedural issues and areas for further analysis. These were reviewed and critical paths - literally - of the route were identified for further surveys.

These are to be carried out in August 2008 with National One Call joining with another InSite partner, Loy Surveys who won the business through competitive tendering. The contract is on-going as we and the client work our way along the route to ensure that this vital route is proven and viable.

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