PowerSouth Energy Cooperative
Location: Andalusia, AL
PowerSouth Energy Cooperative has been expanding its corporate headquarters in Andalusia, AL A mission critical component of the expansion, was the construction of the PowerSouth Energy Control Center (ECC). The ECC is a two story, 47,000 square foot data center housing offices, computer systems and associated equipment involved in the utility distribution to all PowerSouth customers. In addition “The Bunker” was designed to ensure resiliency of the systems due to a natural disaster or human threat.
PowerSouth serves the wholesale energy needs of 16 electric cooperatives and 4 municipal electric systems in Alabama and northwest Florida. PowerSouth’s service territory spans 39 Alabama counties and 10 Florida counties.
SEA AS COMMISSIONING AUTHORITY
The owner determined that since time was of the essence, the project would be delivered using a design/build (DB) delivery method. Therefore, the project team was already engaged in the process when the decision to hire a commissioning authority occurred. SEA interfaced seamlessly into the project conducting design review; construction observations; and commissioning plan development with zero schedule impact.
The nature of the facility required in-depth testing of all of the complex electrical systems consisting of Power Distribution Unit, automatic transfer switch, static transfer and UPS system. In addition, load testing of the fire suppression, HVAC systems and the generators occurred.
Because of SEA’s role to act on the owner’s behalf and be subject matter experts on the functionality of the systems PowerSouth received a fully functional data center immediately upon construction completion. Examples of issues resolved through SEA’s involvement include:
Fire Suppression Systems – The DB team was told that in order to test the system, the tanks would have to be discharged. Once discharge occurs the tanks would have to be refilled at a cost of $36,000. SEA proposed a alternative solution using a “dummy solenoid” to test the system. Discharge of the tanks were not required, the system functionality was fully tested and NFPA code requirements were met.
Results: $36,000 savings to owner (33% of SEA fee)
Load Bank Testing – Due to the complexity of the systems and their critical mission in Powersouth’s business, the team agreed to test under full load. Therefore, SEA completed a 1.1 megawatt load test on each generator as well as the UPS system and power distribution units.
Results: The testing process allowed for problems to be resolved prior to owner occupancy.
Electrical Switchgear – Through SEA’s design review and on site observation testing, a switch gear transfer sequence issue was resolved. Had this issue not been uncovered, endangerment to maintenance personnel and potential equipment malfunction could have occurred. SEA coordinated efforts between the DB team and the switchgear manufacturer to resolve these issues.
Results: Potential personnel injury and equipment failure mitigated with no delay to construction completion and owner occupancy.