Manitoba Hydro will announce the preferred route for its controversial new $2-billion transmission  line Thursday, CBC News has learned.

The hydro utility has been looking at three potential routes along the west side of the province after rejecting a shorter route along the east side Lake Winnipeg in order to preserve a boreal forest.

CEO Bob Brennan said the Crown corporation won't expropriate any land but will offer fair market value to in effect "lease" land for the massive power line.

"It eliminates the fact we had other routes," Brennan said of the planned announcement. "And people who are on that route if they had concerns they don't have to have them anymore."

The line, running about 1,400 kilometres, will cost more than $2 billion.

Brennan said open houses and community consultations will be taken with stakeholders.

Critics, including the Opposition Conservatives, have said Manitoba Hydro's decision to build the line down the west side of the province's big lakes will cost at least $1 billion more than originally estimated,

In 2007, the NDP government over-ruled Hydro's original plans to run the line down the east side of  Lake Winnipeg.

The transmission line will begin at Gillam, in northern Manitoba, run west of Winnipegosis and Lake Manitoba and end at a new converter station east of Winnipeg. More than 75 per cent on Manitoba Hydro's electricity production is currently supplied through two existing lines that run from Gillam through the Interlake to Winnipeg.

The new line would act as a back-up to the current system and be able to carry power from new generating stations to southern Manitoba and for export. The line is expected to be completed in 2017.