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Manitoba Hydro Projects: BiPole III CEC Hearings



What is Bipole III?

A 1,384 km high voltage direct current transmission line from a new converter station called Keewatinoow located near the proposed Keeyask, and Conawapa Dams east of Gillam. Ending at a new converter station at the Riel Converter Station Site east of Winnipeg.

Parts of Bipole III

The Bipole III project includes:
  1. Keewatinoow Converter Station located is east of Gillam near the proposed Conwapa Hydroelectric Generating Station.
  2. 1384 km long transmission line with a 66m wide right-of-way and 4 km wide study area corridor. The line starts near Gillam, runs around Cedar Lake, Lake Winnipegosis, and Lake Manitoba on west side of Manitoba. Continues south of Lake Manitoba to east of Portage La Prairie, turning east after crossing PH #2, then turns north west of Steinbach, ending at the Riel Converter Station east of Winnipeg next to the Deacon Water Reservoir. Line will require nearly 3,000 towers, with an average of two towers per kilometer.
  3. Riel Converter Station, located east of Winnipeg next to the Deacon Water Reservoir, is already under construction under a separate Environment Act license already issued.

What is a Converter Station?

Converter stations convert alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) for transmission from northern Manitoba to southern Manitoba, and then convert DC back to AC for transmission to customers.

Why is Bipole III being built?

Approximately 75% of Manitoba Hydro generating capacity is delivered by Bi-poles I and II high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines. Energy travels to southern Manitoba and export markets through a single corridor (Interlake region). Bi-pole I & II are vulnerable to risk of catastrophic outages if both Bi-pole lines and/or the Dorsey Converter Station are damaged due to severe weather events. Manitoba Hydro's intended solution to this problem is construction of a third direct current bi-pole, known as Bi-pole III. Power travelling on Bi-pole III south will be for both export and domestic (Manitoba) use.

Bipole III Licence Appeals Filed

The option to appeal the Bipole III environment licence carried a deadline of September 13. So far the Manitoba Metis Federation and Manitoba Wildlands have stated publicly they appealed the licence. Other participants may have also filed appeals.

Recently Manitoba Conservation has stopped putting appeals to environment licences in the public registry. This makes it is more difficult to track appeals, or to know their outcome. An example of this change in operational standards under the Environment Act is the numerous appeals of 2011 peat mine licences. None of these were made public, none are in the public registry.

The Minister is required to review licence appeals, and formally respond; that is acknowledge receipt of the appeal, and then formally (written response) give reasons for either upholding the appeal, or dismissing the appeal.

Manitoba Wildlands letter of appeal cites a range of problems with the Bipole III proceedings, and the licence itself. Notable among these is the licence being based on the Bipole III EIS. The EIS was found to be deficient by the Clean Environment Commission. Numerous commitments regarding Bipole III were made by Manitoba Hydro during the CEC hearings. These are missing from the licence. The licence is precedent setting in a number of ways. The clauses in it include a range of steps Manitoba Hydro must take before construction. And Minister Mackintosh sent a letter with the licence to the utility indicating that CEC recommendations that are not regulatory must also be fulfilled.

View September 13, 2013 Manitoba Wildlands Bipole III letter of appeal

Licence Not Recommended by Bipole III Participants

Clean Environment Commission (CEC) hearings regarding the Manitoba Hydro 1400 km long dc transmission system called BiPole III ended March 15, 2013.

After 9 weeks of hearings, with a 3 month adjournment to prepare environmental statement for three BiPole III route changes, common ground among hearing participants were obvious.

Several concerns were clear:

  • Most Manitoba Hydro conclusions based on desk studies and existing data, little field work done
  • First Nation and Aboriginal communities rejected Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge findings
  • Cumulative environmental assessment incomplete
  • Valued Environment Components selected for self assessment incomplete
  • Concern for woodland caribou and moose grew based on proponent's assumptions and presentations
  • EIS appears incomplete, as if the utility assumed a licence would be issued
  • Little content regarding drainage, water safety, aquifer safety
  • First Nation land selection hampered, funding for First Nation community capacity insufficient
  • Problems with Manitoba Hydro community engagement, and consultations by Manitoba government
  • Inconsistent, and varying BP3 impact zones in Hydro technical work, leaving confusion about various impacts beyond the 66 meter right of way
  • Lack of acknowledgment of the long term impacts from the corridor on farm operations, homes, and businesses in southern Manitoba

Participants asked the CEC to not recommend a licence until insufficiencies and problems in Manitoba Hydro technical work are deal with.

The CEC has 90 days to prepare its report for the Conservation Minister. The Chair indicated its report would be made public 10 days after delivery to the Minister.

View March 12, 2013 Gaile Whelan Enns, Director, Manitoba Wildlands, closing statement in Bipole III hearings
View Manitoba Wildlands Bipole III Events, Decisions, Documents Chart

Bipole III Proceedings and Hearings

Click below for a short summary of Manitoba Clean Environment Commission (CEC) Bipole III proceedings and hearings.

Bipole III Media Coverage

Manitoba Wildlands is providing access to news coverage, op eds, etc concerning the Bipole III proceedings, hearings, reviews and licensing decision below. Feel free to forward coverage we have not yet posted.



BiPole III Clean Environment Commission Chart: Events, Decisions, Documents

Manitoba Wildlands is providing a chart that lists, in date order, the events, documents, motions, and rulings in the CEC proceedings for the Bipole III transmission project. The chart will be updated, and reposted.

View BiPole III Clean Environment Commission Chart: Events, Decisions, Documents August 23, 2013

BiPole III Hearings and Supplemental Filing

Manitoba Hydro logo Preparations for the Clean Environment Commission hearings regarding BiPole III have started, with registration of participants, and requests for participant funding filed. The CEC intends to begin its proceedings soon, with a conference to set the schedule mid May, 2012. There will be at least one round of formal written questions to Manitoba Hydro regarding this transmission project, starting in May. The schedule for hearings begins in late August, 2012 and is likely to continue through to the end of October. Several northern and rural communities are being identified as location for hearings, with the primary public hearings being held in Winnipeg.

Responses to the public review of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Bi Pole III Transmission Project were filed in March 2012. In late April the director of licensing for the Manitoba Environment Act determined that Manitoba Hydro will be asked to provide supplemental EIS information and file that information as part of the Bi Pole III EIS under the Environment Act. Until notification has been sent to Manitoba Hydro the schedule for response and review will not be known. All EIS filings and responses are part of the public registry under the Environment Act.

It is apparent that the Clean Environment Commission (CEC) schedule will run beside the schedule under the Environment Act, regarding the proposal to build BiPole III. The CEC maintains its own archive of evidence, transcripts, and other materials. The CEC will provide its BiPole III report and recommendations to the Minister of Conservation soon after the hearings end.

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