SaskPower places 230-kV line in service, with some follow-up work remaining

Some right-of-way reclamation and additional work has yet to be completed on the Island Falls to Key Lake transmission line in northern Saskatchewan, but the line was placed in service in October 2015, a Saskatchewan Power spokesperson told TransmissionHub Jan. 11.

The additional work includes assembly of five reserve towers, completion of a 230-kV bay at the Island Falls switching station, additional switches near Lindsay Lake, at about the mid-way point on the 186-mile project, and an interconnection with a power system in Manitoba, the SaskPower spokesperson said. Some of that work needs to take place in the spring, he said.

The single-circuit, 230-kV line was added to improve reliability in the region and meet projected loads from new mines in northeast Saskatchewan. It begins at the Island Falls hydropower station and extends northwest to the Key Lake area, according to a SaskPower fact sheet about the project.

The project is projected to come in under the established budget of C$380m (US$ 270m), the SaskPower spokesperson told TransmissionHub.

SaskPower originally had a lower estimated cost for the project, at about C$200m, according to TransmissionHub data.

SaskPower chose Quanta Services (NYSE:PWR) subsidiary Valard Construction to build the project, and the work took a couple years and Valard encountered some challenges, Valard and Quanta noted in different statements over the past several months. Access points on the project were limited to the two points at Island Falls and Key Lake, and at Lindsay Lake, with much of the assembly and other work completed with the use of helicopters, Valard said.

Extreme winter weather in the first half of 2015 and forest fires in the middle of 2015 caused construction work stoppages, Quanta noted. Work was nearly complete when Valard demobilized crews late in the summer of 2015 due to the fires in Saskatchewan, Quanta President and CEO James O’Neil said in August 2015 during the company’s 2Q15 earnings conference call.

SaskPower awarded Valard the construction contract in early 2013.

Much of the route of the Island Falls to Key Lake line follows an existing SaskPower transmission line, according to SaskPower. The 138-kV power line that originally began serving the area was built in the early 1990s, the utility said in its fact sheet about the project.