ABB will design, engineer and install the 160-kilometres of cabling between a substation in Keith, Moray and another converter at Spittal in Caithness. The link will travel under the Moray Firth.
It has been designed to carry 1.2GW of energy projects – largely wind — in the far north of Scotland to the more densely populated south. Construction is due to be completed in 2018.
As part of the contract, SSE guaranteed all staff and contractors would be paid at least the UK living wage of £7.65 (EUR 9.64) an hour, increasing to £7.85 (EUR 9.89) an hour from April 2015.
Companies in the UK voluntarily pay the living wage to its employees, unlike the legally-required, lower minimum wage of £6.50. The living wage is calculated to ensure those who recieve it can cover the basic cost of living in the UK.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE's chief executive, said the contract would mean "every person who works regularly on that contract will be paid at least the living wage, guaranteeing a fair day's wage for a fair day's work – whether directly employed by SSE or not."
The transmission link was approved by regulator Ofgem in July.