BC Hydro poised to sign contract to build generating station, spillway for Site C


BC Hydro is poised to sign a billion-dollar contract to build the generating station and spillway for the Site C dam.

The Crown utility announced Dec. 21 it has selected the AFDE Partnership as its preferred proponent to carry out the work.

The partnership includes Aecon Constructors, Flatiron Constructors Canada, Dragados Canada, and EBC Inc., and will be responsible for building Site C's powerhouse, penstocks, spillways, and power intakes.

BC Hydro says it's finalizing contract terms with the partnership, which the utility's board of directors still needs to approve. The deal is expected to be signed in early 2018, with the partnership mobilizing to the site in the spring, BC Hydro says.

BC Hydro did not release the price tag of the contract, saying only that it was within its revised $10.7 billion cost set by the NDP government in its approval of the project earlier this month following a four-month review.

An uncensored report accidentally made public as part of that review showed BC Hydro budgeted the dam's generating station and main spillway at $1.255 billion.

The contract will include a project labour agreement with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115, the Construction and Specialized Workers Union Local 1611, and the Construction Maintenance and Allied Workers. It sets a goal of having apprenticeship rates of up to 25 per cent, as well as targets for indigenous employment, while the companies have agreed to prioritize local hiring. 

BC Hydro says 1,600 workers will be on site during the peak of construction in 2021, with work expected to be complete in 2023.

Aecon, which holds a 30 per cent stake in the partnership, has a portfolio that includes the John Hart Generating Station in Campbell River, first built in the 1940s and undergoing a $1 billion replacement.

“Aecon is proud to be working with BC Hydro to deliver the largest clean energy project in British Columbia’s history," President and CEO John Beck said in a statement.

"The experienced and successful team from John Hart are primed to execute the Site C generating station and spillways civil works."

Flatiron Constructors, which holds a 27.5 per cent stake in the partnership, lists dams in California and Colorado among its portfolio, including an $180-million upgrade to the Ruskin Dam powerhouse near Mission, B.C.

Dragados Canada, which also holds a 27.5 per cent stake, says it has built 250 dams worldwide, including dams in Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Spain, along with upgrades to the Ruskin Dam.

EBC Inc., which holds a 15 per cent stake, has a smaller portfolio that includes constructing a service building for Hydro-Québec’s Mercier Power Station in Maniwaki, about 300 kilometres northwest of Montreal.

The announcement of the contract, the second-largest that will be awarded for Site C, was made with considerably less fanfare than the main civil works contract announcement and photo opportunity at a hydro facility in Burnaby in November 2015, which featured then premier Christy Clark, then BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald, and then Petrowest CEO Rick Quigley. 

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