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A Hydro-electrifying Performance

Over half of Canada’s electricity currently comes from hydropower and any excess power is sold to other countries. With over 40% of Canada’s water resources located in Quebec, it is an ideal location to develop this renewable source of energy.

Hydroelectric giant Hydro-Quebec is in the process of building a new hydropower complex in Ville de Bai-Comeau, located on the shores of the Saint Lawrence River in the Côte-Nord region of Canada, and situated 260 miles (420 km) northeast of Quebec. The new facility will provide 4,570 MW of power to the Canadian grid.

R&G St Laurent, a Quebec-based equipment and civil engineering contractor, was awarded the contract to build 2.5 miles (4 km) of access road, small substations and the transformers and associated towers for the new complex. R&G St Laurent was established in 1969 by Real and Gilbert St Laurent, as an excavation and trucking company. Today, the company is run by Real’s sons – Yann and Patrick St-Laurent – and the business has grown along with its ambition over the intervening 40 years.

The project will result in moving over 551,156 tons (500,000 tonnes) of granite and 784,770 cu. yds. (600,000 m3) of soil. It is requiring R&G to use its entire fleet of 26 Volvo machines, which includes four A40F and eight A35F articulated haulers; one EC700C, two EC460C and two EC330C excavators; three L120C, L120F and L220E wheel loaders; four compactors and two SD105DX soil compactors.

Working Ahead

The winter weather in Ville de Bai-Comeau is borderline subarctic – the average temperature in December and January slips below 1o F (-17o C) and the region gets an average 11.8 ft. (3.6 m) of snowfall every year. With this in mind, the work was scheduled to be completed before December 2013.

R&G was working a month ahead of schedule. “We found that the machines made it much quicker than we expected,” says Patrick St-Laurent. “We were loading up 5,232 cu. yds. (4,000 m3) every day.”

The equipment also proved cost-effective to operate, which has helped to offset other costs on the project. “We are constantly checking our machines’ fuel performance against those of other manufacturers,” says Yann St-Laurent. “When we are working outside our region, the company must provide and pay for housing or accommodation for our operators in addition to their hourly wage. We know that under normal working conditions, with the Volvo machines, we can save enough on the weekly cost of fuel per machine to cover the cost of the operator’s accommodation for that week.”

Once completed, the hydropower complex will measure 2,461 ft. long by 1,148 ft. wide (750 m x 350 m), excluding the access roads that R&G is building. To tackle the multitude of tasks in the allotted time, R&G has invested and expanded its fleet. This has resulted in the company not only staying on track but looking to complete the job before schedule – and before winter sets in.

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