Energy and Right-of-way

Members of the CSEPP training for Right-of-way professionals in Caro, MI visit a wind turbine site

CSEPP’s citizen-driven approach to project planning in the right-of-way sector secures many benefits to clients. Explore each in the accordion boxes below:

Surprise, being the number one cause of disruption, is avoided, allowing more citizen openness to considering the proposal.


Featured right-of-way projects

The Holy Cross Energy Experience – Building a Transmission Line and Sub-Station at Snowmass, Colorado
Holy Cross Gas Substation
Gas Insulated Transmission Substation on 8,500 square feet of land substituted for an 88,000 square feet Air Cooled Substation.The unique Gas Insulated Substation is designed to look like barns on the landscape.

CSEPP associates working with our partner organization, James Kent Associates (JKA), implemented the principles of social ecology to transform a divisive power transmission corridor project into a successful, culturally aligned infrastructure project. The disruption-free sub-station and underground power line project are the result of Holy Cross Energy risking a different approach to project approval. As Richard Brinkley said after the approvals from both governments were final: “In the end we could have legally persisted and could have been the last one standing in a terrible fight, but this way — we all feel good about each other and the project, have built long term relationships, learned from each other — citizens, government, HCE. We at Holy Cross have enhanced our commitment as a co-op to “listen to our membership.” Read the full project report

CSEPP and JKA principals use social ecology to facilitate a management shift at the Tanguisson Power Plant, Guam
Management process diagram
Elements of the emerging management system at the Tanguisson Power Plant in Guam

The Guam Power Authority (GPA) entered into a contract with HEI Power Corporation/Guam (HPG) on September 30, 1996 to have the latter take over the management of the Tanguisson Power Plant. CSEPP generates data for assessing cultural and social issues by using a method known as the Discovery Process which allows interviewers to access informal or formal social situations and discover the natural dynamics of how people communicate and relate to each other. The process yielded high-value recommendations to project leaders including: Encourage An Emergent Management Style,Encourage Participation as the Vehicle to Increased Predictability, Make Use of Existing Informal Employee Networks, and Improve Measures for Employee Safety to Improve Morale. Read the full project assessment report and recommendations


Comparison of CSEPP’s and traditional right-of-way approaches

The Social Ecology Approach
Learn - Engage - Benefit
Our approach is a bottom-up method in which the project becomes an extension of the community and is seen to offer benefits to residents.
Working through informal networks is a more effective way to foster a “moderate middle.”
Right of way professionals with knowledge of the local communities should be part of the design team
Citizen engagement has to be in an equal position with engineering feasibility in the design process
“Go slow now to go fast later.” There is a benefit in allowing community process to run its course as citizens review and evaluate a proposal
Local knowledge is used to anticipate design challenges and improve project design.
Traditional Right-of-Way Approach
Design - Propose - Defend
The traditional right-of-way approach a top-down process in which the project is an intrusive force to be guarded against.
Misplaced reliance on organizations, officials and stakeholders
Upper management often does not listen to right-of-way input.
Engineers are insulated in the design process making responsiveness to citizen issues difficult.
Project timelines are arbitrary or unrealistic and often do not fit community timelines.
Local knowledge is ignored.


CSEPP’s Right-of-way Training

CSEPP is actively involved in training a new generation of right-of-way professionals whose work is rooted in meaningful community collaboration and partnership.

Conference Presentations and publications

Presented two-hour sessions on Social Ecology, representing best practices in citizen engagement, at several conferences of International Right of Way (IRWA), Inc. Published 27 articles in a regular column for Right of Way magazine entitled, “Social Ecology: the Science of Community.” In an unprecedented move, IRWA published these 27 articles in a stand-along anthology for distribution to its membership.

Right-of-way professional development

CSEPP developed and implemented a one-day and a two-day course in Social Ecology which were piloted in three locations between 2014 and 2016. Beginning in 2017, implemented a training program for IRWA members for the Social Ecology course, which is now required for certification of members. As certification is the main motivation of professional to join IRWA, we could expect up to 10,000 people to sign up for this program in the next few years.

Learn more about CSEPP’s Training programs