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This paper shares the authors' experiences with implementing an electrical network monitoring and control system (ENMCS) on a grassroots 400 000 barrels per day refinery project with approximately 250 MW of peak load. The scope of the ENMCS spans from the 380-kV primary substation to the 480-V switchgear. The project is expected to proceed into the detail design phase this year. This is a two-part paper. Part I will discuss the primary objectives of the ENMCS and the intended benefits to the refinery. The technical bases considered for the selection of the ENMCS architecture and protocol will be presented along with the historical background. Engineering management aspects of ENMCS implementation will be discussed. This paper is expected to be of interest to many within the petrochemical community as it is one of the first implementations of IEC 61850, Communication Networks and Systems for Power Utility Automation, on such a large grassroots scale. The intent is to publish Part II after the ENMCS is commissioned and present the lessons learned and the suggested improvements.