BC Hydro seeks bidders for main construction of Site C dam, pending project approval

Mike Carter, Chetwynd Echo Reporter


CHETWYND – BC Hydro issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) last week for the main construction of the Site C dam, initiating a 16-month process with a contract expected to be awarded in summer 2015.

That is, if the project receives environmental certification and other regulatory permits, authorization and approvals to proceed.

The joint federal-provincial environmental review panel wrapped up its hearings on the Site C project in January 2014 after meetings in Fort St. John, Hudson’s Hope, West Moberly First Nations, Saulteau First Nations, McLeod Lake Indian Band, Prince George, Doig River First Nation, Halfway River First Nations, Dawson Creek, Peace River, Alberta and Blueberry First Nations communities.

The Joint Review Panel will submit its report to the federal Minister of Environment Leona Aglukkaq, and the Executive Director of the BC Environmental Assessment Office by April 23, 2014.

A decision on the project by Minister Aqlukkaq is expected in the fall of 2014.

The scope of the main construction (civil works) contract includes the construction of the earthfill dam, two diversion tunnels, and a concrete foundation for the generating station and spillways.

BC Hydro released a similar RFQ for the construction and maintenance of worker camps on the north and south banks of the Peace River in early March.

“It is standard practice for major infrastructure projects to initiate procurements [while] environmental and other regulatory processes [are going on],” said Dave Conway, community relations manager for the Site C clean energy project.

“A project like Site C can better manage risks to budget and schedule by starting the procurement process early, recognizing that construction would not take place unless it receives environmental certification and other approvals.”

Responses to the RFQ are due by May 3, 2014. BC Hydro anticipates that up to four contractors will be shortlisted. These contractors will then be asked to provide a bid proposal in the summer of 2014, with contract award in the summer of 2015, again, pending project approval.

“We are proposing Site C to help meet the long-term electricity needs in British Columbia,” Conway added. “Subject to approvals, the construction of Site C would create thousands of jobs… this would provide economic opportunities for businesses of all sizes, including Aboriginal companies.”

BC Hydro will host business-to-business networking sessions in the Peace Region in September 2014, once the shortlisted proponents for the main civil works contract have been selected.

At these sessions, local, regional, and Aboriginal businesses will have the opportunity to meet with the contractors with the goal being to build partnerships for a local supply chain of materials and labour.

Strong opposition to the project has been put forward in the years leading up to last week’s RFQ announcement.

First Nations including the Saulteau, West Moberly, Doig River and Blueberry communities have said the project is not being properly considered through the environmental assessment process through a cumulative impact assessment.

“The cumulative impact of oil-and-gas development in Blueberry traditional territory has been devastating, “ the band said in a recent news release.

“In particular, the accelerated pace of shale-gas extraction during the last 10-years has permanently altered Blueberry’s lands and water, and members’ ability to practice their constitutionally protected treaty rights.”

A video showing the cumulative impacts on the First Nation, located near Buick Creek, BC is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eezk-MOOzwo.

BC Hydro submitted its business case summary and filed an Environmental Impact Statement with both federal and provincial environmental regulators in January 2013.

The Site C project website at www.sitecproject.com lists all current and upcoming major procurements, including anticipated timelines.