Yukon Energy hires builders, talks to regulators

Yukon Energy has hired Peter Kiewit Sons Corporation to build the Mayo B hydro dam expansion, said David Morrison, the public utility’s president on Friday.

Yukon Energy has hired Peter Kiewit Sons Corporation to build the Mayo B hydro dam expansion, said David Morrison, the public utility’s president on Friday.

The $85.4 million contract was signed after six-month-long negotiations over the project’s specs. Kiewit beat four other companies who made bids, including runner-up Ledcor.

Kiewit will build a new powerhouse for the current dam outside Mayo. The building will house a new turbine and generator, which will boost the power station’s electrical output from five megawatts to 15.

Construction will begin in July and is expected to be complete in early 2012.

The Mayo B expansion is accompanying the construction of a transmission line between Carmacks and Stewart Crossing, which will merge the Yukon’s northern and southern grids.

On Friday, Yukon Energy also announced that Grande Prairie-based Valard Construction has been awarded a contract to build the transmission line’s second leg.

Valard, who built the first leg of the line in 2008, will hire Arctic Power to carry out part of the $11-million contract.

The companies will begin setting up poles in the permafrost-covered regions of the line this month. Using heavy equipment in warmer temperatures risks damaging the soil, said Morrison.

Cross arms for the poles have been ordered, to be installed in the spring. And the stringing is scheduled for July and should be completed in early fall, said Morrison.

Valard has an employment partnership with the three Northern Tutchone First Nations. There should be no disruption to the communities along the line, said Morrison.

“On the highway, there will be a few extra trucks,” he said. “But (people) shouldn’t see any disruptions at all.”

Yukon Energy has been working with the Selkirk and Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nations on trap lines that cross the line.

“We don’t feel like there’s any issues to be dealt with,” said Morrison.

The public utility also announced that its application to build the Mayo B expansion has now entered a public consultation phase at the Yukon Environmental and Socioeconomic Assessment Board.

People have 30 days to comment on the project. If it’s approved, a decision document and permits will follow.

Yukon Energy isn’t expecting any surprises from the assessment board, but the public utility could be saddled with conditions that it must follow to proceed with construction.

“We can meet (the conditions),” said Morrison. “The thing about conditions is that they cost more money.”

Finally, Yukon Energy and the privately-owned Yukon Electrical Company Limited have initiated a regulatory process that will evaluate whether different electrical customer groups are paying their fair share for power.

Currently, the government pays more for its power while residential customers pay less. The hearings will look at whether rates should be adjusted or whether they should be kept the same.

Both commercial and industrial customers pay for the full cost of their power, said Morrison.

Contact James Munson at jamesm@yukon-news.com.