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The 1970s focused primarily on energy generation, dictated by growing business and personal usage demands. Federal legislation calling for cleaner water and air standards created new regulatory challenges, and opportunities, for the major utilities – many of them, to this day, our valued clients. As consumption and demand increased through the 1980s, the emphasis began to shift to transmission. How to distribute energy efficiently and inexpensively became an important strategic and practical consideration, for the industry and for PS&S.
By the 1990s, remediation had become a rising business concern, for the firm and our energy clients. The utilities infrastructure increasingly was in need of repair and retooling, a result of the aging and deterioration of many electrical substations built in the 1940s and ‘50s.
Since the turn of the century, our focus on energy utilities has continued to evolve. Not only is PS&S working diligently with clients to solve conventional generation, transmission and environmental challenges, we’re increasingly active in the alternative and renewable energy space.
Some of our most innovative projects and plans, such as our Building Information Modeling program, are directed toward drafting state-of-the-art power generation and distribution models. The regulatory and implementation landscape has become more complex, and we’ve responded accordingly. It takes a firm such as PS&S, unmatched in the breadth of engineering and architectural services provided, to keep clients current on regulations, permitting needs and design specifications.
Our August newsletter looks at some of the people, projects and plans that distinguish PS&S in the delivery of energy utility services.
The Focus On feature profiles Senior Vice President L. Miguel Salinas, chairman of our Energy Utility group, and some of the important projects and clients he and his team are overseeing. Our Energy Utility practice has grown in interesting and creative ways over the past five years, and Miguel has been the steady hand on the wheel. In addition, we’re spotlighting Walt Judge, whose work on energy projects has produced an impressive string of client successes and established him as an industry leader.
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Pressures on public utilities to meet energy crises, evolving infrastructure needs and volatile market demands are pushing engineering firms to draft innovative solutions to complex operational challenges -- and PS&S is uniquely suited to provide that breadth and depth of technical and professional assistance.
L. Miguel Salinas, PS&S’s Senior Vice President who chairs the Energy Utility group, noted that the firm itself has evolved in response to powerful market-changing events. In New Jersey and New York, he said, “we’ve always been leaders, at the forefront of understanding and creating solutions for complying with new regulatory programs.”
Four years ago, Salinas said, PS&S developed an Infrastructure Group as one of its main business and marketing components, covering all energy utilities and public sector clients. In 2013, driven by customer needs and client growth, the firm broke the group into two separate lines of businesses – the Public Sector market and the Energy Utility market.
Salinas, who joined the firm in 2007, took the administrative reins of the Energy Utility group and also leads its go-to-market efforts. His professional background features broad experience with the energy utilities in all aspects of planning, engineering and environmental services. He is a licensed site remediation professional (LSRP) in New Jersey and certified professional soil scientist (CPSS) nationally.
“Working with utilities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York has been a big part of my career,” Salinas said. “Helping clients understand and navigate the regulations has always played a big role in what we do.”
“Regulatory programs have and will continue to evolve,” he said. “Recently, one of our clients told me that the ‘value add’ we bring to the table is not only understanding what the regulation means, but more importantly the unwritten knowledge of how to comply most effectively and efficiently -- without having to spend tremendous time and effort going back and forth with agencies.”
Over the past few years, he added, “we’ve seen radical changes with regulations, technical advances and current thinking.”
Many of those changes are the result of increasing demand for energy in the most densely populated area of the country; the impact of recent severe storms in the aftermath of Katrina; the effect of harsh winters; aging infrastructure, and newly available natural gas resources in the region.
“The weather and storm-related impacts have changed the way we look at flood prevention and protection, flood analysis and all the science behind it,” Salinas said. “That has stepped up the past 10 years or so, and I continue to see that happening.”
PS&S works closely with the major utility companies -- including PSE&G, First Energy/JCP&L, AGL/Elizabethtown Gas, UGI, Orange and Rockland/Con Ed, National Grid and Atlantic City Electric -- to develop new, creative and productive solutions. Recently, Salinas said, the firm has been doing extensive work with PSE&G Long Island, since the utility’s takeover of the Long Island Power Authority infrastructure.
That continues the firm’s solid track record on Long Island, built from its office base in Garden City. Besides its breadth of engineering and architectural talent and services, the firm’s presence in key markets through its development of regional offices is another plus.
“Having our regional offices makes a big difference,” Salinas said. “A lot of the big utilities have regional services that one or more of our offices falls within. That advantage helps us become a local presence, as well as having all of the other technical expertise of the company.”
For additional information, please contact L. Miguel Salinas at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Judge is project manager for many of PS&S’s biggest energy utility clients, including PSE&G and First Energy/JCP&L. He also manages the firm’s efforts for Atlantic City Electric, a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc. In this role, Judge oversees a wide range of permitting, engineering and architecture projects incorporating nearly all of the firm’s well-respected disciplines.
Through the years, PS&S services to energy utilities have been heavily focused on environmental licensing and permitting. As energy utilities expand existing substations to improve reliability, Judge has worked to introduce clients to other PS&S services, including geotechnical investigation, civil/site design, architectural design, landscape design, sound/noise evaluations and cultural resource management studies.
A licensed engineer who recently obtained certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP), Judge embodies the broad skillsets and versatility of PS&S’s best.
The extent of engineering and architectural experience at PS&S is a significant plus in providing full client service. “We’re a firm that doesn’t need to retain sub-consultants in order to provide a complete proposal or negotiate a fee,” he said. “The person down the hall can do it. In terms of project coordination, the efficiency PS&S brings translates to savings in cost and schedule. The clients appreciate having one point of contact.”
“We like to think of PS&S as having an ‘all under one roof’ approach, and it’s true,” he says.
One particularly creative project that has tapped into that breadth of engineering and architectural experience involves the expansion of an aging electrical substation situated in the midst of a high-end South Jersey Shore residential neighborhood. Community outreach and ultimate buy-in was critical to project success, Judge said. PS&S’s challenge was to enclose the substation equipment in a structure that would resemble a contemporary single-family seashore residence.
Using the firm’s Building Information Modeling platform, the client was able to visualize the structure in 3D and provide design input at each step along the way. PS&S then turned the 3D model into renderings and an animation for presentation to municipal officials and neighbors.
“Our use of animation was a first for this client and the Architecture Department hit a homerun on this one,” Judge said. The project also demonstrates PS&S environmental/land use permitting, civil/site design, landscape design and sound study skills. The project won municipal site plan approval and is expected to be online in 2016.
Judge received his undergraduate degree from the University of Hartford in Civil Engineering and a Master’s from Stevens Institute of Technology in Environmental Engineering. He lives in Spring Lake, N.J. and is a familiar face to clients at both the firm’s Warren Township headquarters and the Wall Township office.
For more information, please contact Walt Judge at email@example.com