Press Releases

Grant County PUD meets increased power demands by implementing first-ever progressive design-build process

April 2018

HAILEY, Idaho (April 9, 2018) ‒ Grant County Public Utility District is the first public utility in Washington to successfully use the progressive design-build process to help meet demands for unprecedented amounts of electricity. That success is the topic of a presentation at the 2018 Northwest Public Power Association conference and trade show, April 10-12, in Tacoma, Washington.

Grant County PUD recently completed two new substations, expanded two existing substations and made ground-up rebuilds of four more to meet the growing demand for electricity. In providing owner’s engineering services for these projects, POWER Engineers Incorporated (POWER) helped the district complete the improvements in a record two years.

Grant County PUD project manager Russ Seiler will tell the story behind these projects at the NWPPA Engineering & Operation Conference and Trade Show in Tacoma.

To complete the eight substations as quickly as possible, Grant County used a new option in a 2013 state law called progressive design-build. The traditional design-bid-build process for public utilities would have required at least four years to complete the projects.

The demand for power couldn’t wait that long. The new option gave the utility district the ability to choose project contractors based almost entirely on qualifications, as well as including an element of competitive pricing. Grant County became the first public utility district in the state to take advantage of the new law.

As part of the utility’s management team for the substation projects, POWER assisted in putting together the initial scope of work that earned Grant County PUD approval from state regulators to use progressive design-build.

The substation improvements completed in late 2017 were made necessary by technology giants Microsoft, Yahoo, Dell and others opening giant data centers at a rapid clip to support their internet services. The data centers gobble up power. The demand for electricity from data centers went from virtually imperceptible in 2005 to around 20% of total demand today in Grant County.

More demand is on the way. Cryptocurrency mining operations have pending applications for hundreds of megawatts of power in Central Washington.

These requests for power are testing staffs and the distribution capacity of public utilities in the region, but the Grant County PUD has made itself ready for the challenge.