April 25, 2012
Any power line construction project will have its set of logistical and environmental challenges, but arctic and sub-arctic construction pushes these trials to a whole other level.
Based in Edmonton, Alberta – the northernmost major city in Canada – Valard has vast experience in arctic, sub-arctic and extreme winter construction. From its projects in Canada’s arctic territories to the remote northern corners of its provinces – Valard has built a level of personal, in-house experience and expertise not offered by other contractors.
The company has successfully completed several major transmission projects north of the 55 parallel up to and beyond the tree line. The company has routinely met and conquered rough and hazardous terrain including permafrost and tundra, impenetrable swamps and wetlands, dense boreal forest, nearly impenetrable bedrock and waterlogged muskeg bog.
The logistics of these projects have necessitated construction during long, harsh winters with grueling temperatures and brief daylight hours – or even periods of complete 24-hour darkness.
“It gets extremely cold and dark on some of these projects,” said David Torgerson, Construction Manager at Valard. “Our guys are used to working in -30 C to -40 C, and we’ve even experienced temperatures as low as -55 C. We always say safety comes first – warm up as needed and be sure to have a shovel, extra can of fuel and other emergency supplies on hand.”
Climate and geography significantly challenge every aspect of power line construction on arctic and sub-arctic projects. Regular snowstorms, sudden weather changes and extreme winds make tower assembly and stringing grueling tasks. There are also often sensitive eco-systems, habitats and wildlife the company takes extra measures to protect. Then, there’s the remoteness. Labour, equipment and materials must be brought in through air transport, barge during the summer months or ice roads during winter.
“These projects involve a lot more planning because the areas are so remote,” said Torgerson. “You have to make sure you’re prepared on site and have back-ups because equipment can be three days away if something breaks down.”
The company has a vast fleet of equipment specially designed to access isolated areas. In fact, it operates the largest fleet of dedicated off-road power construction equipment in Canada including snowmobiles, tracked personnel carriers, tracked utility vehicles, heavy-duty cranes, off-road drilling equipment and Snowcats for ice road construction.
“We have the in-house capability to construct power line projects in the most isolated corners,” says Valard President Adam Budzinski. “I’m not aware of other companies that have such extensive and recent experience as we do in terms of winter construction and arctic construction. We offer clients highly experienced personnel, a vast store of specialized equipment and 30 years of experience delivering successful projects in remote northern areas.”
Learn more about Valard’s arctic construction capabilities.
See examples of Valard’s arctic and sub-arctic projects.