HRC denies employment, contract accusations | CraigDailyPress.com
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HRC denies employment, contract accusations

Christina M. Currie

Hamon Research-Cottrell did back out of an agreement with Antelope Construction for its portion of upgrades to the Craig Power Plant but only because the local firm couldn’t meet its obligations, said Jeff Antonelli, the HRC’s vice president of human relations.

Brussels-based HRC has been accused of breaching a contract with a local contractor to save money and bringing in a workforce of mostly out-of-state employees.

HRC officials say neither accusation is completely true.

HRC was awarded a $58 million contract for a portion of a $110 million retrofit at the Craig Station Power Plant. Completing the retrofit upgrading the plant’s pollution control system was a requirement of a settlement agreement in a lawsuit between the owners of the power plant and the Sierra Club.

Members of the Western Colorado Trades and Labor Organizing Committee staged an informational picket Nov. 1 at the power plant to protest the hiring of out-of-state workers and the decision to eliminate Antelope Construction from a $16 million portion of the work it was awarded by HRC.

According to Antonelli, Antelope’s bid for the work jumped $1.6 million between the time HRC requested a price and after HRC was awarded the full contract.

“Prior to Hamon’s bid for the project, Antelope submitted a bid for $16 million for the mechanical portion of the project. We relied on their bid when we submitted our bid for the project,” he said.

After being awarded the project, HRC met with Antelope to finalize the arrangements and that bid jumped to $17.6 million,

Antonelli said.

Jerry Roberts, former manager of Antelope Construction who negotiated the contract, said Antelope’s first bid was an estimate and HRC knew that. He said the amount of steel needed for the project was increased between early discussions and the final bid, driving up the cost.

“We had no choice but to do the work ourselves,” Antonelli said. “Previously, we had no intention of doing the construction. It’s unfortunate Antelope couldn’t come to the table and provide what they previously committed and we had to step in.”

Originally, HRC planned to provide the engineering work with Antelope doing the actual construction.

“As discussions with Antelope became more detailed, it became apparent that Antelope was unable to provide a detailed schedule or work plan,” said Jonathan R. Lagarenne, chief executive officer with the Hamon Corporation. “HRC also learned that this project was many times larger than Antelope’s annual revenue, making it questionable whether Antelope could finance the project.”

Roberts said that was never an issue. The company was able to get bonding and would not have bid the project if there were questions about being able to complete it.

Jerry Carlson, owner of Antelope Construction, has hired an attorney and is considering litigation against HRC. He said his company spent nearly $150,000 in preparation for the project and was “devastated” when the contract didn’t come through.

He said HRC asked Antelope to bid the contract exclusively with HRC and, in doing so, Antelope lost the chance to bid with other companies who might not have left Antelope in the cold.

Antonelli said he had no information about that request.

HRC’s reasons for not sub-contracting with Antelope were both justified and legal, Lagarenne said.

“Not being able to meet the requirements for the project as established prior to HRC being awarded the contract, we had no choice but to do the work ourselves,” he said.

HRC has 51 employees at the Craig Station, one-third of whom are area residents. At its height, Hamon’s portion of the project will provide jobs for 80 to 90 people, Antonelli said.

“HRC is committed to providing quality service on every contract it receives. For nearly 100 years, we have taken pride in hiring the most skilled, productive people for every aspect of a project,” Lagarenne said. “However, we also take pride in the fact that we always strive to hire local people”

He said HRC would continue to interview local people as the workforce expands.

“We’ve got a good representation of people from the Western Slope and the Craig area,” Antonelli said.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.


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