This project has been uplifting for the Local 1 membership and our families.
The construction of two new natural gas HRSG units at Jackson Generation’s Elwood, Illinois, facility could not have come at a better time for members of Local 1 (Chicago). Boilermakers started on the project in April 2020—just as the COVID-19 pandemic was shutting down entire cities and work opportunities across many industries throughout the world.
But the outlook wasn’t rosy even before the pandemic hit.
“Over the past three years, Local 1 has experienced the lowest man-hours in over 30 years,” says BM-ST Eric Davis. “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Local 1’s work outlook further with the reduction of manpower on jobs, reduced duration of jobs and even cancellation of jobs altogether.
“This project has been uplifting for the Local 1 membership and our families.”
Kiewit Power Constructors is the contractor on the project for J-Power USA, and Boilermakers are constructing the two HRSG units, stacks, tanks, an ACC condenser and filter house. Davis says work is expected to continue into the summer or fall of 2021 and is estimated to amass about 300,000 man-hours for 150 members.
“Local 1 and Kiewit have had a very good working relationship,” he says, noting that Kiewit provided the local with equipment and material so that members could practice and be tested in the Boilermakers training center months before the job began. The contractor wanted to ensure enough L-1 Boilermakers would be ready to work and well trained in the welding processes needed for the project.
“We believe this helped our members gain the skills necessary to meet the high standards of this project.”
Likewise, he says Local 1 has cultivated a positive relationship with J-Power USA that helped get the project off the ground in its beginning phases.
L-1 members rallied to show support at multiple town hall hearings to express the importance of what this project would mean for our families and the community.
“During the development and permit process, J-Power USA, L-1 members and business representatives worked together in unity,” Davis says. “L-1 members rallied to show support at multiple town hall hearings to express the importance of what this project would mean for our families and the community.”
L-1 business representatives also sought support for the project through their relationships with local political leaders, which was helpful during the permitting process.
Synergies among J-Power USA, Kiewit and the Boilermakers have been especially important to keep the project moving and navigate the unusual circumstances of working in heavy construction during a pandemic. Davis says Kiewit’s Management and Safety Department hosted a labor summit attended by the site’s supervision team, Kiewit management and L-1 business representatives to create an environment for everyone’s safety concerns to be heard and addressed at all levels. Extra precautions include limiting the number of people in break trailers, cleaning after every break and face-covering requirements.
And while the pandemic has created some challenges, such as delayed deliveries of equipment, resulting in hiring fluctuations and unexpected lay-offs, Davis stresses that Kiewit and L-1 have worked closely together to ensure the project remains on time and on schedule for J-Power USA. The extra work and cooperative troubleshooting is set to pay off through additional upcoming work.
“Local 1 members and Kiewit Power are very fortunate to have another project identical to Jackson Generation starting during the summer of 2021 at Competitive Power Ventures’ new Three Rivers Energy facility in Morris, Illinois,” he says. “We look forward to another safe and successful job working together with Kiewit.”