Plenty of work happening on Northwest Transmission Line

BC Hydro has yet to sign a formal contract with the construction group it has chosen to build the Northwest Transmission Line.

BC Hydro has yet to sign a formal contract with the construction group it has chosen to build the Northwest Transmission Line.

But the lack of a formal contract with Valard Construction/Burns and McDonnell isn’t holding up work on the line, says BC Hydro’s Lesley Wood.

“What we do have is an interim agreement with them so that they can carry out certain activities, the design work and geotechnical work,” said Wood.

It’s all work leading to actual construction of the line which isn’t scheduled to begin next year anyway she said, noting that clearance of right-of-ways and other work is already underway.

“We have certainty around the work being done and they have certainty about being paid,” Woods added of the arrangement between BC Hydro and its preferred builders. Specific aspects about the work now being done relate to the transmission line towers.

Wood also said detailed right-of-way design is underway.

“Right now there’s a lot of planning and permitting work being done,” she added.

Valard Construction/Burns and McDonnell was one of three groups to submit bids after being vetted by BC Hydro.

The group has had an office in Terrace since last year.

In the meantime, Golder and Associates has been hired to ensure that companies working on the project comply with environmental safeguards and regulations.

It also has an office in Terrace and has been ramping up activity as work on the line intensifies.

Another consulting services company called Hatch has been hired to act as BC Hydro’s eyes and ears during construction to ensure contract terms are met and that quality and performance goals are met.

Woods said that economic talks continue with three First Nations groups who have traditional territory through which the transmission line will pass.

The Kitsumkalum and Lax Kw’alaams are in the position to reap financial and other benefits from the project while Metlakatla have already signed an impacts benefit agreement.

The last First Nation to sign on with the transmission line was the Gitanyow and that took place in June.

Up until the signing, the Gitanyow had been one of the more vocal First Nations groups to oppose the line, saying neither BC Hydro nor the provincial government respected or recognized aboriginal title.