Parkhill, Smith & Cooper received a 2017 Engineering Excellence Award for the design of El Paso Electric’s Montana Power Station evaporation ponds. The Engineering Excellence Awards are presented annually by the American Council of Engineering Companies New Mexico to recognize engineering achievements and to demonstrate the highest degree of merit and ingenuity. This award was in the environmental category.

The Montana Power Station ponds called for ways to meet environmental requirements in a somewhat confined site and on a tight deadline using the best available environmental control technology to provide efficient electrical power to the border area.

The generating station allows El Paso Electric to meet customers’ energy-demand fluctuations in an efficient and cost-effective way that reduces the risk of outages during excessively hot days. The ponds’ geomembrane liners, which went online in May 2015, have special electrical leak-detecting capabilities to help protect groundwater for Las Cruces; El Paso, Texas; and Juárez, Mexico.

“This was the type of project that we really appreciate as engineers,” PSC Principal and Public Works Sector Director Robert H. (Holly) Holder said. “To be able to develop a project that is on the cutting edge of technology and provide the client a solution that is cost effective and one that provide an environmentally sound solution is so satisfying. A project we are all proud of.”

Entries are judged on original or innovative application of new or existing techniques; future value to the engineering profession and perception by the public; social, economic, and sustainable design considerations; complexity; and exceeding client/owner needs

The power station is said to generate enough power to provide electricity to 160,000 homes while meeting health, safety and environmental standards and having minimal negative impact on air quality and groundwater.

ZTex Construction and GSE Environmental also helped with the project.