Sell, Promote and Be Proud: Commonwealth Electric Co. of the Midwest

Sell, Promote and Be Proud: Commonwealth Electric Co. of the Midwest

Commonwealth Electric Co. of the Midwest in Omaha, Neb., is heavily involved in an industrial project to upgrade electrical, instrumentation and control systems for one of the Metropolitan Utility District (MUD) water treatment facilities in Omaha. MUD serves more than 214,000 customers an average of about 90 million gallons of water per day. The district owns and operates three water treatment facilities and an extensive distribution system capable of supplying potable water in excess of 300 million gallons per day.

Work on the MUD facility began in January 2018 with completion scheduled in December 2019, said Adam Brumbaugh, Commonwealth Electric project manager.

“Because MUD is revising and upgrading the chemical process for treating the water supply, we’re actually installing completely new electrical and control systems, which will enable more efficient chemical delivery to the water-softening and clarification processes and will reduce the current lime feed content an average of 3,000 pounds per day—as much as 25 percent,” Brumbaugh said.

Work on the new systems must be carried out while the old system remains in service to provide uninterrupted water to customers. The three-story MUD chemical building was built in 1956 and interior demolition for the upgrade began on the main floor and with the relocation of the large control center board to the basement. Some staff members had to be relocated to temporary on-site trailers while the lab and lab staff remain in the building during construction.

“The new control center board is programmable logic controller [PLC]-based and will be relocated to the main IT room in the basement of the facility,” Brumbaugh said. “The main electrical room was also relocated to the basement due to the need for both services to be operational at the same time. Not only did moving the main electrical room aid in phasing, but now all electrical equipment can be kept secure and isolated at one location which reduces the possibility of arc-flash hazards. Previously, equipment was scattered around and mingled with other process equipment.”

Brumbaugh said the project also includes new lighting throughout the building as well as new exterior lighting.

“The need for efficient LED lighting was emphasized in the early planning stages,” he said. “We are using luminaire-integrated occupancy sensor lighting controls, which is an important cost-savings measure for MUD.”

More than 300 interior LED luminaires eventually will be installed with most using aircraft cable for mounting and flexible conduit for pathways. More than 20 LED luminaires will be installed to replace all outdated lighting around the facility. The same type of LED flood luminaire will both be pole- and wall-mounted for uniformity.

A complete new fire alarm system will be installed to bring the facility up to current code compliance with all the modern technologies. MUD has its own security group and will be installing all new equipment utilizing pathways installed by Commonwealth. The building upgrade also includes new offices and conference room, which require addition control technologies including modern AV equipment.

Commonwealth has its own prefabrication shop that is being used on the project.

“Early on, we identified the benefits of utilizing our shop during the preconstruction phases of the project,” Brumbaugh said. “Items that were executed at our shop included conduit nipples, cable tray strut-mounting racks, and devising more efficient ways for mounting luminaires and other electrical devices and pathways. This has been instrumental in delivering materials as needed to increase job efficiency.”

Commonwealth also has been able to use its basement for equipment storage.

Because of the complexity of the project and the need to keep water services operating, Commonwealth personnel met daily with MUD staff and the implementation contractor, Huffman Engineering.

“This proactive approach to project management is keeping work proceeding efficiently and on schedule,” Brumbaugh said. “In addition, we are utilizing an in-house electrical engineer for all project management needs. MUD deserves much of the credit for the progress of construction.”

As with all Commonwealth projects, safety is a priority.

“Our safety culture allows all employees to be empowered to ensure safety rules are followed,” Brumbaugh said. “Safety will always be top priority. No job is so important that safety can be over looked. Commonwealth Electric Co. of the Midwest believes the most important asset we provide to our customers is the quality workmanship of our employees and a safe work environment. Our safety motto says it best: ‘We Sell it, Promote it, and are Proud of It.’”

Commonwealth Electric is a full-service electrical contractor with commercial, industrial, institutional and communications capabilities. Corporate offices are in Lincoln, Neb., with five other locations in Nebraska, one in Des Moines, Iowa, and one in each in Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.

About the Author

Jeff Griffin

Freelance Writer

Jeff Griffin, a construction and tools writer from Oklahoma City, can be reached at

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