Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project Review Starts
Manitoba Hydro has filed its Environmental Statement (EIS or EA) for the Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project (MMTP) to the Environmental Approvals branch of government. It is now posted on the online public registry, and available for review and public comments for 60 days. Public and Technical Advisory Committee comments affect decisions on the final EIS
Earlier in the regulatory process there was a 'scoping document' with potential contents for this transmission project environmental assessment. The public registry contains all documents and reviews to date.
The MMTP project connects converter stations in southern Manitoba, near Winnipeg, to a new line for export of energy to Minnesota. Using a combination of existing corridors, private lands, and public lands, the MMTP is an alternating current system to enable export of what the utility terms 'new green energy' from dams in northern Manitoba.
Due to the export purpose of the project Canada's National Energy Board will review the project. Manitoba's government informed the federal government in 2014 that Manitoba would handle assessment and the licensing process, by passing an Order in Council. The MMTP was approved in the 'Needs for an Alternatives To' review conducted by the Manitoba Public Utilities Board in 2014.
Many rural municipalities, farmers, towns, and First Nations are affected by the project.
The Manitoba cabinet is likely to issue its reference to the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission (CEC) to hold hearings soon. The stages of CEC proceedings would start in fall 2015 and go into the first half of 2016.
View Manitoba Hydro MMTP Scoping Document
View Manitoba Public Registry file 5750.00
View Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project
Manitoba Minnesota Transmission EIS Released
US State and federal agencies, on June 19, 2015, released the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Great Northern Transmission Line, setting the stage for public meetings, comments and later hearings on the proposal by Minnesota Power to build a 500-kilovolt transmission line from the Canada-U.S. border to Minnesota's Iron Range.
Minnesota Power is proposing to build an approximately 220-mile long, 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission line that would cross the international border in Roseau County, and would connect to the intended Manitoba transmission line project based on Manitoba Hydro's preferred route.
The joint US federal/state EIS analyzes environmental impacts of the proposed Project, a range of reasonable action alternatives, and the No Action alternative. Manitoba Conservation also requires an EIS from Manitoba Hydro.
In Manitoba a scoping document to frame the EIS contents was released in mid 2014. The final preferred route for the transmission line, which is intended for export of Manitoba Hydro energy, was announced after three rounds of public engagement. The Manitoba EIS, to be released in late summer 2015, will need to match contents with the recent licences issued for significant transmission projects in Manitoba.
A sixty day public review for the Manitoba EIS will occur, and like Minnesota, steps for hearings follow that public review in order to arrive at a final version of the EIS.
Canada's National Energy Board also reviews the project, in relation to permits to export energy to US customers of Manitoba Hydro. Manitoba Hydro filings under the Manitoba Environment Act are also part of the NEB filings.
As an international project, and with the recent precedents of Clean Environment Commission hearings for the Bipole III transmission project, Manitoba's cabinet will issue a formal reference to the CEC in fall 2015. Manitoba's Environment Act requires these steps. Two other sets of transmission were included in the mandate for recent CEC hearings.
Several Manitoba First Nations are potentially affected by the project.
View June 26, 2015 Minnesota Power news release
View The Great Northern Tranmission Line EIS website
View MMTP Draft Environmental Impact Statement
View Manitoba Public Registry file 5750.00
View Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project
Manitoba Hydro Selects US Transmission Route
Manitoba Hydro has released its preferred route for the new 500 kv alternating current transmission system approved by Manitoba's Public Utilities Board (PUB) after its 2014 review of the utility's development plan. The PUB approval is not part of the public reviews or regulatory licensing process.
The Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project (MMTP) would start at Dorsey Station west of Winnipeg, move along lines through the south side of Winnipeg, connect at the Louis Riel Station east of Winnipeg, and travel south east of the Red River and Highway 59 to Minnesota. The MMTP connects to a similar transmission project in Minnesota.
The Environmental Statement (EIS) for the project will be filed during summer 2015. The next regulatory steps begin with the review of the EIS. Currently the final Scoping Document, which is the basis for the EIS, has not yet been made public. The director of licensing has instructed Manitoba Hydro regarding contents to be added to the EIS.
The region of Manitoba this new transmission line would cross includes several towns, primary and secondary highways, farmland, public lands, and private lands. The selected route will use some existing rights of way, but also crosses a lot of private land.
Several First Nations are affected by the transmission project, due to constitutional and treaty rights, for both current and historical land uses in the region. Treaty land entitlement options are also relevant in the region. Aboriginal consultations with affected communities are also required, and could start as soon as fall 2015.
The Manitoba government issued an Order in Council during 2014 to let the federal government know that Manitoba will handle environmental assessments, hearings, and licensing steps for this transmission project. The National Energy Board (NEB) will review the project's intended export of energy, based on the Board's mandate. All current export of energy from Manitoba carries NEB permits. Information filed by Manitoba Hydro for the Manitoba regulatory steps will also be used by the NEB.
Clean Environment Commission hearing to consider whether to issue an environmental licence for MMTP will be in late 2015 or early 2016.
View Public Registry File for Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project
View May 5, 2015 Letter directing Manitoba Hydro to make updates to the MMTP Scoping Document
View Manitoba Hydro MMTP website
Manitoba to Minnesota Transmission Route Selected
Manitoba Hydro has announced the final preferred route for the new transmission project to Minnesota. The utility will start ÂRound ThreeÂ of public engagement sessions about the project soon, continuing through spring 2015. A new newsletter with map showing the preferred transmission route are now posted on the Hydro website.
The transmission project connects to both Dorsey and Riel Converter Stations on the west and east sides of Winnipeg. Transmission line and towers between the stations would travel in the corridor in southern Winnipeg. The transmission line turns south on the east side of the Red River, and Highway 59, to meet the Manitoba-Minnesota border. The transmission project is 500 kv AC, which would allow Manitoba Hydro to import Minnesota wind energy, and to export Manitoba Hydro stored hydro energy. Minnesota has over 1500 wind turbines in its system.
The environment act scoping document for the project, which will direct content of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the public reviews, hearings and decision about this transmission project, is currently under public review. It is posted in Manitoba ConservationÂs public registry.
Manitoba Hydro expects to be able to file the EIS by summer 2015. The EIS will also have a public review period. Manitoba has notified the government of Canada that the Manitoba regulatory process will handle reviews, hearings, and decisions on this new international transmission project. It is not yet clear how the National Energy Board will review the project.
Clean Environment Commission (CEC) hearings for the transmission project would be held late 2015, with the utility expecting a licence in 2016 or 2017, construction to start for an-service date in 2020. The estimated cost of the project is $ 700m Cdn. Converter Station costs, including upgrades etc, are included in former licenses, including for the Bipole III transmission project. Manitoba Hydro projects are consistently over budget, so the price of this transmission project is likely to rise.
Several First Nations are affected by the project, and Aboriginal Consultations through the Manitoba government apparently will not start until the EIS is filed. Several communities, and numerous property owners are also affected. The final route does not use much public land, which are available for treaty land entitlement selections. Some existing road and transmission corridors lands are used for the route. The tall grass prairie preserve in south eastern Manitoba appears to not be affected.
Minister Mackintosh, Conservation and Water Stewardship, is responsible for the regulatory process and final decision about the transmission project. He will need the outcomes from the CEC hearings and the results from Aboriginal consultations in order to make a licensing decision.
View Manitoba Hydro Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Line Project
View Manitoba government public registry Â Scoping Document
View Great Northern Transmission Line website
View October 30, 2014 Manitoba Hydro News Release
View June 28, 2013 Manitoba Wildlands 2013 News Item