A change of contractors for the clearing of land, for a transmission line between Muskrat Falls and Churchill Falls, continued to be questioned by Liberal Leader Dwight Ball in the House of Assembly Monday.
It was the third day Ball has raised the subject — taking issue with the lack of a separate request for proposals after the dismissal of the original contractor and demanding to know more about the costs involved.
Work on the right-of-way clearing for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project transmission line was being completed by Great Western Forestry. That contractor was dismissed and the work halted on Nov. 15, due to what has been described by Nalcor Energy as contractual issues.
The exact issues are not being disclosed.
The work has since passed to Johnson’s Construction Ltd. A spokeswoman for Nalcor Energy said Johnson’s was a bidder on the original contract and the company’s proposal for tackling the right-of-way tree clearing was the second-best value for the work package proposed.
“Nalcor Energy must ensure that project costs are effectively managed in the best interest of the project and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. To obtain best value for the project, Nalcor must ensure that all contractors are operating to the highest safety and performance standards,” the spokeswoman stated in a followup email.
Johnson’s Construction has already started on its new Muskrat Falls contract. The new contract adds to the company’s existing work requirements on the megaproject — reservoir clearing on the north bank of the lower Churchill River. That work was awarded to Johnson’s in April 2013.
Ball has questioned the quick turnaround on contractors for the power line right-of-way.
“In this particular case, a contract was awarded, the contractor was non-compliant, the work was not satisfactory, and they have been removed. As a result of that, Nalcor went to the second place bidder in the process and made the selection to continue on with the work,” said Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley, in response to Ball’s questions.
“It is a legitimate process, where a contractor was non-sufficient and through the excellent work of Nalcor and oversight for this project, they have been removed,” he said.
But the Liberal leader also wants to know the amount of money being paid out by Nalcor under the new contract and what, if anything, the change in contractors has cost the project overall.
The total cost of any and all contracts associated with the Muskrat Falls project are not being released by either Nalcor Energy or the provincial government.
Nalcor’s spokeswoman said the change in contractors has not delayed the project timeline. The transmission line between Muskrat Falls and Churchill Falls is still scheduled to be built along the right-of-way and operational by 2017.