Manitoba Hydro has secured access to 90 percent of the right of way required for construction of the 1,400-km Bipole III transmission line. Voluntary easement agreements have been reached with over 250 private landowners, and steps are now being taken to secure the remaining right of way.
"We are making good progress in moving forward to build this line, which is critical to providing an affordable, reliable electricity supply to Manitobans," said Bryan Luce, Vice-President, Manitoba Hydro.
"Extensive public engagement on the project included over 400 meetings between 2008 and 2013. In addition, formal hearings were held by the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission. Significant route adjustments were made through these processes. We have been working over the past year to secure voluntary easement agreements with affected landowners, and have offered fair and generous compensation," said Luce.
Manitoba Hydro has also committed to secondary land use agreements to ensure landowners have continued use of affected property.
To keep the project on schedule for the targeted 2018 in-service date, it is now necessary for Manitoba Hydro to initiate action to expropriate the remaining rights of way on private lands. However, entering into a voluntary easement agreement remains an option for all affected landowners.
The Bipole III Project is essential to enhance the long-term reliability of Manitoba Hydro's power grid, and provides additional capacity to bring electricity from new hydro projects in the north to southern Manitoba. The additional capacity also accommodates increased future export sales that will help to pay for important system upgrades and moderate domestic rates. The project also offers significant employment, training and other economic benefits, including over 8,000 person-years of employment, $482 million in labour income, and a $688 million boost to the provincial economy.
Transmission reliability is essential to enable the development of hydroelectricity in Manitoba, which offers significant environmental benefits and cost certainty compared to all other sources of power generation, including natural gas.
Currently, over 70 percent of all electricity generated by Manitoba Hydro travels south over two, side-by-side transmission lines, Bipoles I and II, through Manitoba's Interlake region. Being in such close proximity makes the lines susceptible to being impacted by a single weather incident or forest fire event, as happened in September 1996 and June 2008. Bipole III and the associated converter stations provide an alternate path for electricity to reach customers, should such an event re-occur.