According to Edison Electric Institute, the size of the investor-owned utilities' Industry Capital Expenditures was valued at US $139.8 billion in 2020. Add to that a report published by FTI Consulting, Inc., through its work for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and National Cooperative Services Corp., that found electric cooperatives contributed US $60.3 billion of capital investment between 2013 and 2017. Based on past performance, expectations are that these numbers will grow at a rate of 15 to 20% each year. Any additional capital investment in the country’s infrastructure could significantly increase the market for the relevant technology platform market in this segment.
Like many other utilities, CenterPoint Energy used common databases, spreadsheets, and scheduling software to execute their projects. Despite the many shortcomings of these methods, the job always got done. With increasing regulatory compliance requirements, more complex projects, stringent outage requirements, and a greater need to monitor actual spend vs. budget to justify rate increases, CenterPoint Energy wanted to be proactive and positively change their project execution culture.
The Director of High-Voltage Engineering at CenterPoint Energy wanted to develop a comprehensive project controls and PMO system while at the same time not burden and distract engineers from their core competencies. “It is a hard balance to maintain,” said The Director. “You want your engineers to design projects, but because engineering is critical in the execution of projects, they are also required to coordinate with several other teams to ensure a successful project execution.”
The Transmission Line Engineering Manager, also of CenterPoint Energy added “Like many other utilities, CenterPoint Energy is also facing a knowledge drain due to retirements. Our engineering group has grown younger, and we thought the time was right to add a more robust project controls and a PMO system and bring in some cool and practical technology to do the same. Naturally, the younger engineers appreciate working with modern technology, so why not try some of the great solutions out there?”
To strike a balance between changing the decades-long culture of the utility while adapting to a fast-changing world, CenterPoint Energy began the search for a comprehensive solution. The offering would need to provide every member of their team with access to the same schedule and be on the same page for successful project execution. CenterPoint wanted their team members to know their responsibilities and deadlines for the milestones and activities. “All too often the project schedules were used to report past progress but were too cumbersome to be used as a tool to focus on the immediate priorities,” explained the Transmission Line Engineering Manager.
It was also imperative that internal and external team workloads were balanced through a simple, yet effective resource loading program. Tracking budgets and actual spend in real-time in a cost-effective manner was essential. “Once you’ve created a baseline schedule and control estimate for a project, you can forecast your monthly spend more realistically,” said the Transmission Line Engineering Manager. “The spend rate for most projects does not follow a linear path from beginning to end. They typically begin on a shallow curve with jumps as right-of-way and material costs occur, followed by a steeper construction spend rate to completion.”
The final requirement of the new solution was its ability to evaluate internal teams and the numerous vendors working on their projects to determine the specific challenges in a complex project while using the experience to provide feedback to team members and the vendor. Being in the ERCOT market with increasing challenges for outage requests, CenterPoint Energy also wanted to track outage requests and regulatory compliance for before peak and after peak projects. This would flag any missed deadlines that could delay customer projects due to missed outages. The ideal solution would be economical and lightweight while at the same time robust and secure.
Kyro solution has been an ideal answer to the challenges faced by CenterPoint Energy. It provides:
Significant reductions in costs have been realized using the Kyro system through accurate real-time monitoring of planned vs actual budgets in the CenterPoint Energy CapEx program. CenterPoint Energy has reported an annual savings of at least $25M per year on an annual CapEx budget of $300M; more than 8% savings through the use of Kyro. Savings are seen in areas such as:
CenterPoint Energy has enjoyed the project modernization and significant savings from onboarding Kyro. "CenterPoint’s investment in Kyro has been very productive and has led us to implement several new data-driven best practices in our company. Kyro helps us in all aspects of our project management, resource loading, cost loading, financial management, documentation management, and benchmarking activities,” said the Director of High-Voltage Engineering.