Hearing commences for Bipole III

The Manitoboa Clean Environment Commission (CEC) hearing on the Bipole III project will convene in Winnipeg on Monday, Oct. 1, with sessions scheduled to take place in six additional cities across the province before the hearing is concluded.

CEC public hearings are somewhat more formal than similar proceedings hearings in the United States, the secretary to the commission, Cathy Johnson, told TransmissionHub.

A CEC panel will hear from representatives of the project’s proponent, Manitoba Hydro, as well as several parties that have been granted intervenor status. Neither the proponent nor the intervenors will be limited as to the amount of time allotted.

Intervenors that are scheduled to participate include the Bipole III Coalition, Consumers’ Association of Canada, Manitoba Wildlands, and the Green Party of Manitoba. The Tataskweyak Cree Nation, Pine Creek First Nation, Sapotaweyak Cree Nation, Peguis First Nation, and the Manitoba Métis Federation will also present positions on the project.

Members of the public may also make presentations, Johnson said, but are requested to register at least seven days in advance of the hearings, and will be limited to 15 minutes.

The first week will include five days of sessions in Winnipeg. Following those meetings, two-day sessions will be held in Gillam and Thompson, Manitoba. Single-day sessions will follow in The Pas, Dauphine, Portage la Prairie, and Niverville before the hearings return to Winnipeg from Oct. 29 through their expected conclusion Nov. 22.

In Winnipeg, two evening sessions have been set aside for public presentations on Nov. 1 and 8.

Three groups had sought to have the hearings delayed by up to 120 days to allow the parties sufficient time to review and digest some 10,000 pages of material submitted in conjunction with the case. However, after reviewing requests for delay from the Bipole III Coalition, the Consumers’ Association, and the Peguis First Nation, the CEC determined that the hearings would proceed as scheduled.

In rulings signed by chair Terry Sargeant on behalf of the five panel members who heard the arguments for delay, the panel acknowledged that the Bipole project “is not insignificant in its size and in the amount and scope of the materials provided,” the CEC stated.

However, the panel said the time allotted was comparable to the time allotted for similar projects that were subject to CEC hearings, including the Wuskwatim generation station and transmission line project, and the Winnipeg Red River Floodway Expansion.

The CEC will post transcripts of the hearing on its website at the conclusion of each day’s session, Johnson said.

The CEC’s final report on the project is expected in 2013.

According to TransmissionHub data, the Bipole III project includes a 1,384 kilometer (858 mile), 500-kV HVDC transmission line that will originate at Riel Converter Station and terminate at Keewatinoow Converter Station, both in Manitoba, Canada. The project also includes energy conversion facilities and system connections.

The project is needed to improve overall system reliability and dependability, according to its proponent, Manitoba Hydro. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2017 at a cost estimated at C$3.3bn (US$3.35bn).