Hydro's new power line faces delay

By // News | Hydro's new power line faces delay
Email to a friend Plain text Print version // Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

By: Bruce Owen

Posted: 1:00 AM | Comments:

John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press archives
Terry Sargeant: 'We're on a very tight timeline'

Enlarge Image

John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press archives Terry Sargeant: 'We're on a very tight timeline' (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

Manitoba Hydro's new Bipole III transmission line could face a significant delay because of the utility's attempt to change its route -- to avoid fragile caribou and moose habitat -- without redoing its environmental assessment of the project.

That supplemental assessment would give First Nations and the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) an opportunity to study the new route and how it would impact their communities, but Hydro is concerned it could delay plans for a 2017 in-service date for the power line.

"It would certainly have impacts on the schedule we're desperately trying to maintain," Hydro spokesman Glenn Schneider said Thursday.

The Crown corporation tabled its revised route plans late last week with two major changes: the first to veer the line around the Wabowden woodland caribou grounds and the second around an area farther south known as moose meadows. The province recognized woodland caribou as threatened under the province's Endangered Species Act in June 2006 and some parts of western Manitoba are now closed to moose hunting because of low populations.

The 1,400-kilometre Bipole III line proposal is currently before the province's Clean Environment Commission (CEC) as it conducts public hearings on the line's environmental impact.

The CEC is powerless to compel Hydro to redo its environmental assessment on the revised route but urges the utility to offer more information for public review.

"I think it would be pretty necessary for participants to have some kind of an environmental assessment PDQ," CEC chairman Terry Sargeant said at a hearing earlier this week.

"I would say to Manitoba Hydro that we're on a very tight timeline right now. If we don't conclude these hearings by the end of November, we may be looking at January, the end of January before they are concluded."

The revised route has added more flames to the fire of the MMF's threatened court challenge against Bipole III, which could delay the project indefinitely.

The MMF and Pine Creek First Nation argue they have not been adequately consulted on the project by Hydro -- a legal requisite under Canada's constitution.

"Whether at the end of the day people are supportive of what the new route changes are or not is not the point," MMF lawyer Jason Madden said. "The point is government and Hydro don't get to go behind closed doors, make the changes and not come back out to the public and to aboriginal groups and say one, what do you think about the changes, and secondly, what are the environmental effects?"

The MMF and other groups want the CEC to adjourn its hearing until Hydro complies with the law. The CEC had planned to wrap up its hearing by month's end.

"It is my submission that the appropriate way to deal with this mess is to simply adjourn the hearing process until such time as Hydro has got its act together," Peguis First Nation lawyer Robert Dawson told the CEC panel Tuesday.

Regardless of what Hydro does or what the CEC says in its final report on Bipole III, the MMF has already signalled they will go to court to block the project.

"This isn't about Hydro's schedule," Madden said. "This is about fairness."

The MMF and Peguis First Nation say Bipole III will cut through their traditional lands. They say if it's built, they want a cut of the revenue it generates through surplus power exports to the United States.

Hydro negotiated a revenue-sharing deal with the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation on the recently completed Wuskwatim generation station near Thompson and is currently negotiating a similar agreement with four northern bands on the proposed Keeyask dam project.

Manitoba Hydro CEO Scott Thomson has said the province risks rolling blackouts and a potentially crippling hit to the economy if it doesn't go ahead with a $20-billion plan to build Bipole III, Keeyask and the Conawapa generating station.

The bipole line, estimated to cost $3.28 billion, is to run down the west side of the province and is intended to bring more reliability to Hydro's system, including meeting rising domestic demand in southern Manitoba.


Bipole III quotes

"I mean, I don't see how we can conclude these hearings until we have had a fair environmental assessment of what may well be the final route of this project."

-- Terry Sargeant, chairman of Manitoba's Clean Environment Commission

"This is not Etch-a-Sketch transmission routing. There needs to be an environmental assessment based upon the route that is before the commission. It's plain and simple."

-- Manitoba Metis Federation lawyer Jason Madden

"We have had no approach, no conversation, no contact from Manitoba Hydro to discuss or consider this. It has been up to us to pull teeth."

-- Pine Creek First Nation spokesman Warren Mills

"Ultimately, I think any participant who walks out of here should have only one feeling, shall we say, and that is that they were fairly treated."

-- Peguis First Nation lawyer Robert Dawson

-- source: Clean Environment Commission transcripts Nov. 6, 2012

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2012 A14

Tagged : No tags for this article

Headlines Newsview all

Canada health report card ranks B.C. first, Nunavut last

British Columbia is home to the healthiest Canadian population, while residents in Newfoundland and Labrador and the three territories are the least healthy, according to ... Full story

B.C. wolf cull will likely last five years, assistant deputy minister says Video

The point man for British Columbia's effort to save endangered mountain caribou says a controversial wolf cull will likely be necessary for the next five ... Full story

William Wise gets twenty-two years in prison for $130M Ponzi scheme

A former Cornwall, Ont., man who once owned an Ontario Hockey League team has been sentenced to almost 22 years in prison by a California ... Full story

Sgt. Mark Salesse: body of missing RCAF member recovered

The family of Sgt. Mark Salesse has confirmed their son's remains were found today in Banff National Park."The door bell rang, and the three military ... Full story

New defence minister Jason Kenney says Canada is open to training Ukrainian forces

The country's new defence minister left the door open Wednesday for Canadian troops to join the U.S. in training Ukrainian forces and for an extension ... Full story

Stephen Harper's new election: Lose one minister, shuffle three

It's been a busy "off-week" on Parliament Hill. First Eve Adams bolted from the Conservatives — after the party abandoned her — to become a ... Full story

Cenovus loss widens to $472 million as oil company cuts spending plans

Cenovus says it plans to cut 15 per cent of its workforce this year and freeze all remaining employee salaries as the oil company posted ... Full story

Dimitri Soudas holds Conservative secrets amid fiancée's move to Liberal Party

Dimitri Soudas held privileged positions in the Conservative Party, including as one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's closest allies.He went on to become the party's ... Full story

Sydney Academy student dies after being struck by school bus

Cape Breton Regional Police say a student died after being struck by a school bus in front of Sydney Academy on Wednesday afternoon.Witnesses told CBC ... Full story

Canadian army set to train near site of Boko Haram attacks

Canadian special forces are set to take part in a multi-country military training exercise in a part of Western Africa that continues to see attacks ... Full story

Young Canadians need more social spending from governments

A group lobbying governments to focus more on younger Canadians says three to four times less is spent on people under age 45 than people ... Full story

Rate this article


Breaking News

Stedman Bailey, Rams receiver, in critical condition after shooting

Suspended St. Louis Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey is in critical but stable condition after being shot Tuesday night, a person familiar with the situation ...

Inquest called for fatal police shooting in 2013 standoff

The province will hold an inquest into the death of a 30-year-old man who was fatally shot during a standoff with Toronto police in 2013, ...

Justin Trudeau says work-life balance 'even tougher' for MPs than him

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau covered pressing foreign and domestic topics in his sit-down interview with the CBC's Matt Galloway on Tuesday. But when asked about ...

White student union Facebook groups on Canadian campuses appear to be a hoax

At least five Canadian universities have been targeted in what appears to be a series of fake Facebook groups claiming to represent white student unions.  Officials at the ...

Shot-down Russian fighter jet raises questions on rules of engagement

Turkey's decision to shoot down a Russian fighter plane on Tuesday could have "huge political consequences,' a Canadian military expert says, but some key details about the ...

City of Chicago releases video showing white police officer fatally shooting black teen

A white Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager 16 times last year was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released ...

Toronto Mayor John Tory says he expects Ottawa to 'deploy resources' to help refugees

Toronto Mayor John Tory says he expects Ottawa and the province will 'deploy resources' to help cities with the resettlement of the Syrian refugees coming ...

Watch Justin Trudeau's full interview with CBC's Matt Galloway

After meeting with Canada's premiers and territorial leaders to talk about climate change and the Syrian refugee crisis, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sat down for ...

For U.S. Thanksgiving travel, expect delays as Americans warned to be on alert

Travel around American Thanksgiving is the busiest of the year in the U.S., with millions of people hitting the road and boarding flights. Canadian travellers ...

Toronto police dog attacked with machete as officers bust gambling ring

A Toronto police dog is recovering after he was attacked by a man with a machete when officers showed up to a home to investigate ...