Manitoba Hydro's $13.3 billion plans for northern projects are to undergo a regulatory review to see if there are alternatives.
The province has asked the Public Utilities Board (PUB) to look at the Keeyask and Conawapa generating stations and transmission facilities.
Energy Minister Dave Chomiak says the review, which is standard for new megaprojects, will assess demand for new power sources and consider alternatives such as natural gas.
The so-called NFAT (Needs For and Alternatives To) review would be conducted by a sub-panel of the PUB. Panel members are expected to be announced and detailed terms of reference will be provided to the PUB in the new year.
Chomiak and Hydro officials have already said new hydro projects are needed to feed growing energy demand within the province and in the United States.
"The estimated $13.3-billion investment in Manitoba's north that would result from Keeyask and Conawapa would propel the province's economy for decades to come and provide clean, low-cost and reliable power for future generations of Manitobans," said Chomiak.
"Moving forward with these projects is an important decision and Manitobans need to be assured that they are in the best long-term interest of the province."
But critics point to reduced export sales to the U.S., primarily due to the recession.
Hydro is also competing for exports at a time when natural gas prices have dropped.
Manitoba's Progressive Conservative leader Brian Pallister called in September for a full review of Hydro's planned megaprojects before they proceed.