British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has announced a $470-million deal for turbines and generators for the Site C dam, despite ongoing protests and court challenges against the controversial megaproject.
Clark was joined by Energy Minister Bill Bennett, BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald and industry and labour leaders to announce the contract on Wednesday.
She says Montreal-based Voith Hydro Inc. will design, supply and install six turbines, six generators and associated equipment.
The province says the contract is expected to create about 400 person-years of employment, a term referring to the amount of work done by an individual during a working year.
McDonald says turbines and generators are critical to the success of a hydroelectric project and Voith Hydro has provided equipment for a number of BC Hydro projects in the past.
The announcement is the latest sign the province is forging ahead with construction of the $8.8-billion dam on the Peace River, despite protests outside BC Hydro's Vancouver headquarters and court challenges filed by First Nations and landowners.
Clark says the jobs created by the turbine contract will be added to the 1,500 union and non-union jobs created by a massive $1.5-billion construction deal announced last month.
"This is the benefit of a growing economy," she says. "When our economy grows, when revenues to government grow as a result, we can make the investments in the future that our kids are going to need to rely on, but also that we need to rely on to create jobs for people around the province."
McDonald says the units provided by Voith Hydro will convert falling water into electricity, which is then transformed and fed into the provincial electricity grid. The design and manufacturing of the units is highly specialized work done by only a limited number of companies, she says.
She says BC Hydro undertook a multi-year selection process before choosing Voith Hydro.
"We're very pleased to be working with them again," she says. "We have a high degree of confidence in their ability to deliver these units on schedule and on budget."
The immense infrastructure project in northeast B.C. will flood agricultural land, First Nations archeological sites, fishing and hunting areas.
A woman had to be hospitalized last week after a 19-day hunger strike outside BC Hydro's Vancouver headquarters. The protest has drawn high-profile visitors including Green party Leader Elizabeth May and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.