BC Hydro has now signed the largest contract connected to its Northwest Transmission Line.
It calls for a design and build of the line which will stretch 344km from the crown corporation’s Skeena Substation south of Terrace to Bob Quinn on Hwy37 North.
The contract with Valard, a Quanta company, and Burns and McDonnell was not unexpected as the two companies topped a BC Hydro shortlist last year and had already established operations in the northwest by doing prep work.
The contract was signed August 31, clearing the way for full-on construction with an anticipated finishing date of December 2013.
“There’s been a lot of work already going on,” said BC Hydro VP Bruce Barrett of environmental assessments, forestry work, preliminary design and more lately, geotechnical work along the line’s route.
BC Hydro did not have Valard and Burns and McDonnell commit specifically to using northwest companies or residents for supplies, service and labour but Barrett said the crown corporation is assured there will be regional benefits.
“There will be substantial opportunity for northwest businesses to participate,” he added.
Barrett also noted that BC Hydro has already financed what it calls “boot camps” for mainly aboriginal youth which provide the basics leading up to entering apprenticeship programs.
But Barrett would not release the dollar value of the Valard and Burns and McDonnell contract.
“It’s BC Hydro’s policy not to disclose,” he said, citing confidentiality reasons.
It’s also BC Hydro policy not to disclose the dollar value of the impact benefits agreements it signs with First Nations over whose traditional territory the line will travel.
So far the crown corporation has signed agreements with the Nisga’a Nation and a number of other First Nations, including the Kitselas east of Terrace.
Barrett was also not sure if BC Hydro would release the sum total of the impact benefits agreements once it has signed all of the agreements it can with First Nations.
But Barrett did say BC Hydro prefers people stop using the figure of $404 million when talking about the capital cost of the project.
Although that figure is used in BC Hydro’s application for an environmental certificate and is widely quoted in provincial government press releases, Barrett says the corporation uses a range of anywhere from $364 million to $525 million.
“We’re still operating within that range,” he said of the dollar values which BC Hydro first developed at least four years ago.
The $404 million figure does not include the dollar value of the impact benefits agreements it has been signing with the Nisga’a and with First Nations, Barrett added.
He said the BC Hydro was confident the line will be built within the suggested dollar value range.
To date, BC Hydro has spent nearly $30 million, Barrett said.