BC Hydro awards $1.6B contract to help complete Site C hydroelectric dam

NDP premier gives go-ahead to Site C dam
WATCH: NDP premier gives go-ahead to Site C dam

BC Hydro has awarded the second of three major contracts to complete the Site C hydroelectric dam.

The $1.6-billion contract will cover the construction of the dam’s generating system and spillways (GSS). It is the second largest contract in BC Hydro’s history, behind only the 2015 $1.75-billion main civil works contract for the dam. It is the first major contract award on the project since B.C.’s NDP government took power.

LISTEN: BC Hydro’s 2nd biggest contract

A third major contract for the transmission system that will carry electricity produced by the dam has not yet been awarded.

The deal has been signed with the AFDE partnership, a consortium of builders led by Calgary-based Aecon Group Inc., which is currently subject to a takeover by a Chinese firm, pending a federal security review.

Other partners include Flatiron Construction, Dragados Canada, and EBC Inc.

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The GSS contact will cover the laying of some 700,000 cubic metres of concrete and 34,000 tonnes of rebar, along with the construction of two 17-storey spillways.

BC Hydro says as a condition of the contract, the AFDE Partnership has agreed to prioritize the hiring of local and Indigenous workers. Contractors will begin work on the site this spring, with a five-year completion target.

WATCH: First major Site C dam contract awarded (2015)

BC Hydro has also announced two smaller contracts, a $33-million deal with Nanaimo-based F&M Installations to build a power substation and a $23-million deal with REEL COH Inc. for the GSS bridge and gantry cranes.

In December, following a review from the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC), B.C.’s NDP government decided to proceed with the controversial dam, raising its expected cost from $8.3 billion to $10.7 billion.

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That cost escalation appears to be in large part driven by the larger than expected cost of major civil works contracts.

In its final report to the government, the BCUC expressed concern that the final cost of the dam could exceed its original budget by 20 to 50 per cent. It said that estimate was drawn in part from the fact that BC Hydro had underestimated the cost of its original main civil works contract, and concerns from third party analysts that estimates on the other two major contracts could be similarly low.

The dam is slated for completion in 2024.