Manitoba Hydro plans to close 24 of its rural offices "as part of an ongoing effort to modernize operations," the Crown utility announced.

Closed by March 2014:

  • Erickson​
  • Elie​​
  • Carberry
  • MacGregor​​
  • Reston
  • St. Martin
  • Somerset
  • Leaf Rapids​
  • Carman
  • Morris
  • Niverville
  • Piney

According to a news release, 12 of the corporation’s district offices will close by the end of March 2014 with an additional 12 offices closing by March 2017.

Hydro says the changes, which will see employees being consolidated into existing customer service centres, will improve service and achieve savings for customers.

Hydro expects to reduce costs by approximately $2 million annually once the change is completed in March 2017. The corporation will also avoid another $50 million in future costs associated with facility upgrades that would have been required to the 24 offices.

“Manitobans are changing the way they do business with us. With fewer and fewer customers using local offices to make bill payments or access other services, the time was right for us to take the next steps in streamlining our district office model,” said Scott Thomson, president and CEO of Manitoba Hydro.

Closed by March 2017:

  • Minnedosa​
  • Hamiota
  • Gladstone​
  • Altona​​
  • Roblin
  • St. Pierre​
  • Birtle​
  • Treherne​
  • Shoal Lake​
  • Lundar​​
  • Souris
  • Stonewall

“Those customers who wish to do business in person are generally within 40 minutes of one of our customer service centres. Our field staff will continue to be able to respond to the majority of calls within 45 to 60 minutes,” added location,” said Brent Reed, VP of customer service for Hydro.

The first stage of closures will begin in January 2014 when customer service counters in the 24 affected district offices will close. Customers who wish to pay their bills, make service inquiries or request electrical wiring permits in person will need to visit one of Hydro’s customer service centres.

Manitoba Hydro first began reorganization of its customer service districts in 2007 with the creation of 16 customer service centres in rural Manitoba. A similar reorganization in Winnipeg the following year created four customer service centres, while three district offices were closed.

Since 2007, Hydro has seen a steady decline in customer transactions at  district offices and a corresponding shift to using service centres or making  bill payments either online or by phone, according to the news release.

In addition, many customer services, such as applications for electrical permits, are available online through the corporation’s website.