Nova Scotia

Troubled Abengoa out as transmission line contractor for Maritime Link project

Abengoa S.A. won $197 million contract to build transmission lines in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland just months before it filed for creditor protection.

Rokstad Power brought in to help complete construction in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

Construction of the transmission lines between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland involves building the towers and stringing of conductors.

The Maritime Link project has replaced the troubled Spanish company hired to build power transmission lines between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Abengoa S.A. filed for creditor protection in November. Just months before that, it was awarded a $197 million contract to build 400 kilometres of overhead transmission lines to connect the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project to the North American grid via Nova Scotia.

The Maritime Link is a transmission system that includes 180-kilometre subsea cables that will deliver hydroelectric power from Cape Ray, N.L., to an area near Point Aconi in Cape Breton. (Government of Nova Scotia)

A statement from Emera, which is behind the project, said the financial proceedings hampered Abengoa's ability to perform its work. 

"Today's decision is based on acting in the best interest of the project and our Nova Scotia electricity customers," said Rick Janega, president and CEO of Emera Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Our goal is to complete the Maritime Link project on budget by late 2017."

Emera has turned to Rokstad Power, a company based in Alberta and B.C., to finish Abengoa's work.

Missed targets

In May, Emera confirmed Abengoa was laying off some of its Cape Breton staff, but didn't say how many. 

"The unionized employees, they will now go back into the labour pool and will be hired as needed by the union," said Jeff Myrick, a spokesman for Emera Newfoundland and Labrador.

"This is transmission line construction work, so it is mostly done through electrical work so that will be the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the civil work will be done through the Cape Breton Trades Association."

Abengoa also missed its productivity targets for three months in a row this spring, putting the project behind schedule.

However, Maritime Link has maintained the work can be finished on time. 

The largest transformer arrived in Cape Breton last weekend and converter stations will be built. The Nova Scotia portion of the overhead transmission lines — 100 kilometres — is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

With files from Paul Withers

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