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After years of heated debate over the economic benefits and environmental impact of Site C, the final structure of a system of three dams on the Peace River initially proposed in the 1950s, the project has finally received a green light. On December 16, the Energy Minister Bill Bennett announced that the $8.8 billion construction project is to commence next summer. The completed hydroelectric plant is expected to satisfy the steep increase in energy demand in BC by providing low-cost, clean energy for generations to come, while maintaining a minimal footprint.
What is Site C?
The project consists of a 9,330 hectares (5,570 of which is flooded land) earthfill dam, which will complete the system of Sites A and B, both on the Peace River, to provide the most efficient and least environmentally harmful energy generation to British Columbia. Site C is designed to produce a total capacity of 1,100 MW, which is expected to satisfy more than half of the growing energy demand in the province in the following 40 years.
Project components and construction
The project, which will enter its construction phase in mid-2015, consists of several components. The three major structures comprising Site C will be a 1,050-meter long earthfill dam, a power generation station, and an 83-kilometer reservoir. In addition, several segments of Highway 29 will be realigned to accommodate the project, two new transmission lines will be built as an extension to already existing right-of-way to connect the new station with the Peace Canyon Substation, and measures will be taken to preserve the Hudson’s Hope shoreline. Finally, the project will utilize newly built temporary access bridges and roads, as well as accommodation units for the on-site workers involved in the project.
Contractor opportunities at Site C
The start of the Site C project construction next year promises to be extremely lucrative for the surrounding areas. Initial calculations show that 10,000 person-years of employment will be available to local contractors and subcontractors only during the 7-year construction stage, with a total of 33,000 for the entire length of the project.
Site C’s own engineering team will be involved in the design of the major earthworks, such as excavation work, river diversion, dam and concrete buttress construction, site drainage, road construction, etc., but they will be executed by qualified contractors. The bidding process is already open to candidates who can demonstrate successful delivery on similar-sized projects and can commit to completing all works until 2022. The main civil works contract will be awarded in the summer of 2015.
From then on, the main contractor will be responsible for the hiring process of subcontractors. Once the main civil contractor is officially announced, detailed job descriptions, requirements and application forms will be listed on the project’s official website. Among the job openings at Site C are mechanics, welders, heavy-duty equipment operators, electricians, cement masons, construction supervisors, construction labourers and many more.
With a $3.2 billion increase in BC’s GDP only during the construction phase of the Site C project, the next seven years will surely be a lucrative period for the Peace River region contractors and subcontractors. For more information on the project and for job opportunity updates, head over to the projects official website.