Manitoba requests Clean Environment Commission hearings on Bipole III project

The Canadian province of Manitoba is asking the province’s Clean Environment Commission (CEC) to appoint a panel to hold public hearings on Manitoba Hydro’s proposed Bipole III transmission project.

The request was made on Dec. 2, the day after Manitoba Hydro sent Manitoba Conservation its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project’s preferred route.

“Public hearings will provide an opportunity for input from a wide cross-section of the public and other stakeholders,” Conservation Minister Dave Chomiak said in a statement issued Dec. 2. “This will ensure the voices of Manitobans are heard during the commission’s review of the project.” 

Hearings will be scheduled after the completion of the EIS 90-day public review period.

A spokesperson for Manitoba Hydro told TransmissionHub the Manitoba Environment Act mandates an additional round of public comments because of the size of the project and its potential impact on the environment.

Comments gathered during CEC hearings will be considered along with the public input already obtained by Manitoba Hydro during three rounds of meetings and consultations.

As part of the EIS process, the utility conducted extensive consultation with landowners, communities, First Nations, and other interested parties from February 2008 to March 2011. Input from the consultation process was reviewed and evaluated by its Bipole III environmental assessment team as part of the process of identifying the final preferred route.

In addition to the CEC’s upcoming public hearings, the province of Manitoba will undertake a comprehensive consultation process with First Nations for the Bipole III project.

Bipole III is a proposed 1,384 km (860 mi) HVDC transmission project the utility says is required to improve overall system reliability and dependability. The project includes a 500-kV line linking the northern power generating complex on the Lower Nelson River with the conversion and delivery system in southern Manitoba, energy conversion facilities, and additional 230-kV line interconnections in the north to tie into the existing northern AC system.

Subject to regulatory approval, the project schedule calls for construction to get underway in late 2012, with a 2017 in-service date.