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Olsson helps Bowersock Mills and Power Company achieve accelerated opening

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sarah Ferdico, Communications

This month, Bowersock Mills and Power Company (BMPC) opened its North Generating Station in Lawrence, Kansas. The $25 million structure sits immediately adjacent to a new Obermeyer gate at the north end of Bowersock Dam and is rated at 4.99 megawatts with a reinforced concrete structure surrounding four Kaplan low-head generating units. The plant will produce enough clean energy to power about 3,300 homes each day. Olsson Associates played a major role in designing the plant and performed at an accelerated schedule to meet the June 2011 construction start.

Olsson’s involvement with BMPC began in May 2008 when representatives with BMPC contacted Olsson, inquiring of Olsson’s interest in assisting with the plant’s design. BMPC had gotten Olsson’s name from Kissick Construction, who BMPC knew had done work on the Kansas River. After several meetings with BMPC and Kissick (and numerous internal discussions), the group reached an agreement, and Olsson entered the hydroelectric business. 

“We were extremely honored that Bowersock sought Olsson’s service for this important project, and it has been a real pleasure working with the company,” said Jeff Thorn, project manager and team leader for the Kansas City Northland’s Public Infrastructure team. “In our initial meetings, we found a client with boundless energy. BMPC had a passion for this project that can be rare in our business. We were embarking on a project that the company would own and operate for the next 100 years. They were excited, and so were we.”

The Olsson team performed well and worked at an accelerated pace to meet the client’s needs while still meeting Olsson’s high standards for quality. When the design was completed and reviewed, BMPC had received the second-fastest (ever) major permit from the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC), even though BMPC’s consultant had never attempted one before.

For this project, Olsson provided design, construction documents, permitting assistance, construction services, and special inspections for the new power facility. Olsson also provided environmental permitting, geotechnical design, Kansas River modeling, the facility’s electrical and mechanical design, and the plant’s structural design. In addition, this project was an excellent example of cross-coordination among several Olsson offices. Teams involved in this project included Kansas City Northland’s Public Infrastructure and Mechanical/Electrical teams; Kansas City Southland’s Water Resources, Special Inspections, and Environmental teams; Olathe’s Geotechnical team; and Lincoln’s Power Electrical team.

“After four years on a project, you would think the project team would be tired of the work,” said Jeff. “That is not the case for this. While we are excited to have this project done, we will miss the interaction with the client and the opportunity to work on a project that is designed to last 100 years.”

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