Marine Contractors Inc. Limited Qalipu Partnership, is currently carrying out site preparation for the Bottom Brook layout area and the eventual construction of a converter station.
The converter site is about 50 acres located next to the current Newfoundland Hydro sub-station at Bottom Brook, and will eventually include a building of about eight stories in height, which will be used to convert alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) electricity. Direct current is a more efficient way to transmit electricity over long distances.
For the Maritime Link project, converter stations will be located in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to transition between AC and DC, with these stations interconnecting the AC systems in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia through a DC subsea cable.
Marine Contractors has joined with Qalipu First Nations to pursue this work, which resulted in the partnership picking up the contracts, said project manager Rob Payne. Work started in late September and, along with various supporting companies, Marine Contractors has upwards of 75 employees working.
Payne said the company is also building a four-kilometre road on the Stephenville Crossing side of Indian Head to accommodate a grounding station for the project, and will also be doing work at Granite Canal and at Cape Ray, the location from which the subsea cable will run under the Cabot Strait to Nova Scotia.
Depending on what the winter brings, Payne said the number of employees could change, but the number will definitely increase from the 75 mark come the spring. He said the Granite Lake site preparation is sub-contract work the company has received from Dora Construction Ltd. in Nova Scotia, which will involve getting a site ready for a temporary 100-person construction camp.
Granite Lake is in a remote area of the province, located south of Millertown.
Payne said Emera has been up front about their values on safety and the environment from their first discussions.
Simon Jessome, construction supervisor with Emera, said the Bottom Brook site has 10 operating engineers with five rock trucks, two bulldozers, three excavators, two roller compactors and a grader. Of those operators three are women, he said, with two on rock trucks and one on the bulldozer.
Work will continue at the site until Christmas if the weather permits, and will resume in the spring.