Poorly coordinated design and construction can result in engineering projects that quickly get off schedule and run up unexpected costs. In some cases, these delays and added costs result from rework, as phases designed later in the project require changes to earlier phases that have already begun construction. For one Office of EERE financial assistance Recipient, a private electric company working to add generating capacity to a hydroelectric dam, extra upfront planning is expected to prevent later overruns.

The Recipient took the step of committing to complete at least 90% of the engineering work prior to beginning construction. While certain pieces of the engineering work must be accomplished before beginning construction on this type of project, it’s common practice to start building those portions of the project that have already been designed while others are still on the drawing board. However, by ensuring that the substantial majority of the design work is already done by the groundbreaking, the Recipient is actively working to ensure that each phase can be completed in a timely manner.

At the same time, the Office of EERE is ensuring that Federal and Recipient stakeholders have access to vital technical and managerial information through the use of a project liaison and increased reporting frequency. The project liaison works with the Office of EERE technical and administrative team members as well as the Recipient to get requests fulfilled and questions answered quickly. The increase in reporting frequency allows the Office of EERE and Recipient team members to better understand the technical progress of the project, identify emerging problems or benefits, and make the best use of public funds.

With Recovery Act funding from the Office of EERE deployed with clear planning and enhanced communication, the Recipient is on course to increase its hydropower capacity. In addition, the Office of EERE is on track to realize its investment in US industry and renewable energy.