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BC Hydro chooses power line builder
BC HYDRO has chosen a preferred contractor group to design and build its $404 million Northwest Transmission Line.
But the crown corporation and the group of Valard/Quanta Services and Burns & McDonnell have yet to sign a formal contract.
And talks were described as going well, a BC Hydro official said on the weekend.
News that BC Hydro had chosen a preferred contractor, one of three short-listed groups to make a proposal to build the line, followed quickly after the federal government gave environmental approval to the line late last week.
“... Authorities are of the opinion that the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects,” read a brief statement released by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
The provincial government gave its environmental approval in late February, keeping to a 45-day deadline to do so once an environmental assessment had been submitted.
But the federal government has no such deadline, effectively placing affected parties in a wait and see mode until its decision was made.
Now, with environmental approval in hand, a chain of events can officially start leading to a late 2013 completion.
Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski said May 6, the day federal environmental approval became known, was a “great day for Terrace and the region and the province.”
“This is a much anticipated announcement and now it’s time to build,”
Pernarowski, co-chair of the Northwest Power Line Coalition, a collection of local governments and businesses which has been pushing for construction for years, said that while there was never any doubt the federal government would give approval, the line construction plan did need to meet federal environmental requirements.
Federal environmental approval also means the federal government will provide $130 million toward the line’s construction cost.
The line, long wanted by mining companies and local governments, will run 344km north of BC Hydro’s Skeena Substation near Terrace, ending at Bob Quinn on Hwy37 North.
It means promising mineral properties will now have access to stable power from the provincial grid, doing away with the challenge of using diesel generators.
One copper-bearing property is Red Chris, owned by Imperial Metals.
Imperial already has federal and environmental approval and is now gathering together the necessary permits required for construction to start.
Imperial needs to build its own line south to hook up to the Northwest Transmission Line at Bob Quinn and wants to be ready to commence mining as soon as the transmission line is ready.
Another probable customer is the partnership of NovaGold and Teck which is re-working a mining plan to develop the Galore Creek copper It will be releasing an updated feasibility study later this year.
If the line will serve customers wanting to buy power, it will also serve Calgary-based AltaGas which is building a large run-of-river hydro project using water from the Iskut River.
AltaGas has a 60-year contract to sell power to BC Hydro and it is contributing $180 million toward the line’s cost.
The provincial government’s capital contribution is to be $94 million, once the federal government and AltaGas contributions are taken into account.
The Tahltan last month voted to approve of a deal with BC Hydro providing cash, employment opportunities and business opportunities connected to the transmission line’s construction.
The Kitselas east of Terrace have done the same as has the Metlakatla First Nation.
Also signing a deal with BC Hydro is the Nisga’a Nation. It has also given approval for a portion of the line to be built through the Nisga’a Lava Bed Memorial Park.
BC Hydro is ready to open a transmission line information office in Terrace. It will be located in the building housing Cambria Gordon on Park Ave. across the street from George Little Memorial Park.