Keewatinohk AC Switchyard

Building on a strong relationship that began in the early 1970s, Manitoba Hydro awarded us one of the largest fixed-price engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts in its history. The Keewatinohk AC Switchyard, part of the Bipole III Project, will help provide Manitobans with a more reliable transmission and distribution network. 

In June 2014, we marked a milestone in our lengthy relationship and more than 525 projects with Manitoba Hydro. The major utility selected us to design, procure and build the 230kV AC Keewatinohk Switchyard, part of the province’s new 1,400-kilometre Bipole III Project. We’ll also leverage our extensive switchyard expertise to pre-commission the switchyard. 

Stabilizing the grid

The new Bipole III Project will strengthen the utility’s network reliability by reducing dependency on an existing high voltage direct current system. This system delivers electricity from northern generating stations along the Nelson River to Manitoba Hydro customers in the south. The Bipole III transmission line will start at the Keewatinohk converter station in the north and end at the Riel converter station near Winnipeg.

Our contract for the switchyard at Keewatinohk, the Cree word for “the north”, includes the construction of a nine-bay switchyard and all grounding, bus work, lighting, apparatus, protection and controls as well as associated building structures. 

Working successfully in the north

The switchyard is located 775 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg and 80 kilometres northeast of Gillam, one of Manitoba’s northernmost communities accessible by a year-round road. Given the site’s northern location, our longstanding geotechnical experience with permafrost conditions has been a strong asset to our engineering design on this project. 

With the Keewatinohk site situated 14 hours by truck from Winnipeg, modularizing and prefabricating certain structures off site will help ensure cost effectiveness and schedule efficiencies. 

Engaging with local stakeholders

A significant portion of the site construction workforce is governed by the requirements of the Burntwood/Nelson Agreement (BNA). This collective agreement covers the Keewatinohk portion of the Bipole III Project. The BNA sets out the hiring preferences and procedures. As such, we expect a significant number of the project’s labour force to be local Manitobans. Additionally, our own Local Resource Development Initiative (LRDITM) includes efforts to optimize the contract’s value in Manitoba by purchasing as many goods and services as possible within the province.

Making good progress 

The project continues to progress well as we work closely with Manitoba Hydro.

The Keewatinohk Switchyard is expected to reach substantial completion by mid-2017. The in-service date for the overall Bipole III Project is summer 2018.

Sustainability achievements:
  • The 230kV AC switchyard within the Keewatinohk converter station will help improve Manitoba Hydro’s overall system reliability and dependability.
  • Our project will also positively impact Manitoba’s northern economy by creating jobs for local residents.

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