A Fluor-led joint venture leading a delayed $90-million Dept. of Energy project at the Savannah River site in Aiken, S.C., filed a response in federal court this month to a lawsuit filed against it by Baker Concrete Construction. In the response, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) argued that subcontractor Baker Concrete failed to meet its contractual responsibilities on the Waste Solidification Building project, and is not due any relief. Baker filed suit against SRNS in June, claiming the construction manager was responsible for design-related delays on the project. Baker is seeking damages of nearly $20 million. Lawyers representing SRNS also claim Baker did not follow the contract’s requirements for change-order requests and failed to meet its completion deadlines. Baker's contract called for the project to be completed by June 20, 2012. The project is still under construction. SRNS is seeking relief from the court, including dismissal of Baker's claims.

Construction’s Unemployment Rate Holds Steady

The construction industry’s jobless rate leveled off in August at 9.1%, the same as July’s rate, but improved from the August 2012 mark of 11.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS’  August employment numbers, released on Sept. 6, showed that construction’s jobs total last month also was flat, compared with July’s figure. The August bright spots among construction sectors were residential specialty-trade contractors, which gained 4,900 jobs, and heavy-civil engineering construction, which added 1,200. All other segments posted job losses, led by non-residential building, which shed 3,300 last month. Architectural and
engineering services, which BLS lists separately from construction, lost 400 jobs in August, the second-straight monthly decline for that sector.

TVA Will Spend $420 Million on 325 Projects in Fiscal 2014

The Tennessee Valley Authority has  budgeted $420 million for 325 transmission projects in its fiscal 2014, beginning Oct. 1, a utility executive says. Changes in the federal power producer’s generation fleet, pockets of load growth, aging equipment, and clean-air and other regulatory requirements are the major drivers for the projects, a number of which were approved by TVA’s board in August, Clayton Clem, vice president of electric system projects, told ENR on Sept. 6. New 500-kV substations are planned in Chattanooga and north Nashville, he says. TVA plans to retire 2,700 MW of coal-fired generation by the end of 2017, replacing it with renewable, nuclear and gas-fired generation. More power is needed for growing industrial load in Lebanon, Tenn., where TVA plans to build eight miles of 161-kV transmission line.

Court Nixes Suit Against 500-kV Line Through National Parks

A U.S. District Court judge in Washington, D.C., has dismissed a lawsuit filed by three environmental groups to stop construction of the Susquehanna-Roseland high-voltage transmission line between Pennsylvania and New Jersey that crosses three national parks. Judge Richard Roberts said on Aug. 30 that the decision by the U.S. National Park Service to allow construction of the 500-kV line through the parks was based on reason and that the plaintiffs have not shown it was arbitrary and capricious. The 145-mile line will run from Berwick, Pa., near the PPL Electric Utilities’ Susquehanna nuclear plant, to Roseland, N.J. PPL and Public Service Electric & Gas are building it. Construction has begun in areas other than the parks. The utilities said earlier that they would begin work in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and two national scenic areas on Sept. 3.

The top item reporting on the lawsuit between Baker Concrete Construction and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions has been updated for clarification.