Establishing a plan for asset replacements first required performing a complete system audit. To achieve this, PNM selected Burns & McDonnell in 2021 to establish an asset management plan that would prioritize investments within its system. The portfolio management phase was an effort to prioritize investments that would improve service reliability, system resilience, physical security, cybersecurity, and preparedness for carbon-free operations.
The study was performed by 1898 & Co., a part of Burns & McDonnell, and it set the stage for a 10-year program of capital expenditures and project execution — known as the PNM Infrastructure Investment Program (PIIP). With a plan in hand, the identified projects are being executed year by year, including detailed project scoping, project management, scheduling, cost estimating, engineering design, procurement, project execution and closeout.
The projects under the PIIP umbrella are largely prioritized to tackle the worst-performing and least-reliable assets first. Replacing those assets will help the utility attain better reliability metrics and greater customer satisfaction. These projects include transmission lines, substations, distribution lines, underground lines, and protection and control infrastructure.
The program includes projects ranging from 345-kV down to 4-kV. Substations, 115-kV transmission lines and 12-kV distribution feeders comprise a majority of the assets being addressed.
Additional Programs and Support
While the PIIP was underway, and as the utility was becoming familiar with Burns & McDonnell capabilities, PNM’s department for new service delivery was experiencing — and continues to experience — an extremely high volume of new service applications. Recognizing that this volume of new service applications and the ability to process them in a timely manner would affect overall program success, we engaged and partnered with the PNM’s new service delivery team to support and integrate efforts into the overall program.
Over the course of 2022, a separate Burns & McDonnell team reduced the backlog by 60%. This effort involved contacting customers to review their applications, effectively acting as an owner’s representative for PNM, designing the connections and executing the customer projects. Tackling the backlog applications required applying best practices and techniques to leverage efficiencies.
Further resourcing constraints created another significant need at the utility. PNM needed additional project management staff and other key personnel for ongoing and future project execution. PNM requested that Burns & McDonnell design and implement a project management office (PMO), including governance and processes, as well as provide immediate project management. We are currently implementing this PMO, managing ongoing projects and training incoming replacements for the utility.
On the strength of the growing relationship, we have also provided a wide range of services, including T&D planning studies, transmission connection studies, protection studies, system load flow studies and modeling, routing studies, outage planning services, environmental justice, environmental field and study services, permitting, field quality management, regulatory support, ad hoc engineering services, physical security assessments, NERC compliance, and telecommunications engineering.
Our support for PNM includes project management, project controls, engineering, distribution modernization, protection and controls, telecommunications, field services, quality control, estimation, organizational change management, training, and environmental scientists. All told, Burns & McDonnell has about 150 full-time resources supporting various aspects of PNM’s program needs as of mid-2023. These personnel are spread across four countries and five time zones, providing continuous support.