Potash Junction to Road Runner
In a race to bring power to remote areas of Eddy and Lea Counties in New Mexico, Westwood worked closely with Xcel Energy to provide survey work for a highly anticipated and fast-tracked transmission project. The Potash Junction to Roadrunner project is part of the $1.6 billion dollar Power for the Plains initiative which began in 2010 and seeks to expand transmission in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma to support development in oil production, natural gas extraction, mining, and other commercial development.
Managing Concurrent Processes and Rapid Changes
Survey work for a power line is normally straight forward; the route is well established and doesn’t change much, if at all, because land acquisition, environmental studies and re-routes based on those studies, have all been completed. For this project, however, all of those processes were happening concurrently. Changes were made on the fly as routes shifted due to unexpected land acquisitions by oil developers and discovery of environmentally sensitive areas. Manpower and flexibility were necessary to get the work done on time and Westwood responded by pulling in resources from a number of offices to keep the project on track.
To illustrate just how quickly things moved during the project, one parcel of land included in the original route was leased to an oil developer who built pads and set up drilling operations before the team was even aware of the change. Land acquisition in the area operates on a “first come” basis and communication about the ever-changing land use was sparse.
Collaboration and Documentation was Key
For the route, and for every change in the route, Westwood worked with Xcel, the land agents, engineers, and environmental firm to keep the project data current. To help ensure this, Westwood and Xcel developed project map books detailing key survey information, proposed improvements, environmentally sensitive areas, boundaries, roads, and other existing infrastructure. The map books were used through the planning phase to help the client make timely decisions as routes and land changed. Through construction, the books also help contractors navigate the project site and avoid environmentally sensitive areas.
The remote proximity of the project and high desert terrain presented several access issues and potential safety hazards. Experienced working in this environment, Westwood successfully and safely worked through these issues.