Vermont Electric Power Company Inc. NOVEMBER 09 www. bus- ex. com 43 J ust four years ago, Vermont Electric Power Company ( VELCO) began an ambitious program of construction and expansion to upgrade and transform its infrastructure, the first such initiative in over 20 years. In parallel with this, the company has been undergoing a significant transformation under the guidance of CEO John Donleavy. An expert with many years' experience in the industry, Donleavy joined the company in September 2004 and was appointed CEO in January 2005 to build a team of people capable of undertaking this complex planning and construction work and to deliver an efficient and reliable power supply. " Our responsibility first and foremost is to keep the lights on," Donleavy says. " We own all the transmission assets in the state of Vermont, and we supply power to all the state's 20 distribution utilities. My biggest challenge when I joined was to build a project management organization. I needed to put together a team to site, permit and construct transmission lines because, like much of the country, significant infrastructure had not been built in over 30 years." Although Vermont's population had not been growing during this time, its power demand had, and reliability analysis of the power infrastructure revealed a significant risk to the continuity of supply if a major piece of equipment were to fail for any length of time. Immediately Donleavy began to assemble his management team, attracting experienced staff from around the country in preparation for the first construction project- the Northwest Vermont Reliability Project ( NRP). However, within weeks of his arrival he encountered trouble, according to Kerrick Johnson, vice president of public affairs. The Certificate of Public Good ( CPG) was granted, providing permission to build the NRP. " But it was essentially a wounding CPG," Johnson explains. " It granted permission but also opened an investigation into why VELCO had not done all the necessary preparation work before asking for permission." It was an added challenge and presented the company with the first of its learning experiences. " There had to be a better way to site and permit these projects and to get them built," Donleavy explains. " So we developed a process whereby we work with all the parties that have interests in the project, work out our compromises and get their support before we bring it in front of the regulatory process. The last place you want to argue it out or have a disagreement is in front of the Public Service Commission. We also do all the design up front and only propose the project when we believe it is the best option available. It's a much more efficient process." The improvement is huge. The flawed NRP project required over 18 months and 45 days of hearings before approval was granted, and further approval had to be sought for the siting of poles and wires, leading to a further year's delay. A more recent project- the company's largest so far- bringing power from the Vermont nuclear power station to Coolidge in Ludlow, took 13 months for full approval to be granted. " There were just one and a half days of hearings rather than 45. Two weeks later we had the construction approval and we were putting shovels in the ground," Donleavy says. One of the biggest changes Donleavy has introduced is a strong public outreach process. He POWER is a full- service, multidisciplinary firm providing transmission and distribution services to all stages of planning, permitting, design, and construction. Founded in 1976, POWER strives to help its clients improve the reliability and cost- effectiveness of their systems. We serve a variety of large and small utilities and extend our reach to military institutions and commercial and industrial complexes. POWER Engineers The Louis Berger Group, Inc. is a full- service A/ E firm with experienced transmission planners performing route selection and permitting for the most challenging projects. Berger's planners collaborate with our nationally-renowned cultural resource, environmental, regulatory, and GIS/ multimedia professionals. Berger is proud of our partnership with VELCO on a variety of transmission projects primarily related to cultural resource investigations and environmental permitting. The Louis Berger Group, Inc.