Bipole III line exempt from review
It appears Manitobans will get an independent review of Hydro's plans to build two megadams and generating stations, Keeyask and Conawapa.
But the most controversial project, the BiPole III high-voltage transmission line, won't go under the microscope.
The minister for Manitoba Hydro, Dave Chomiak, said the province needs Bipole to ensure reliable power supply and it won't undergo a review.
"We need Bipole whether we had Keeyask or Conawapa anyway," he said.
However, Byron Williams of the Manitoba chapter of the Consumers Association said all three projects belong to the same system and none should be left out.
"You can't bring the power down from Keeyask or Conawapa without BiPole III. It's analytically unsound to try and look at those projects in a piecemeal fashion, without bringing the transmission line into play," he said.
The government has not yet set up the panel that will review the dams.
A tale of two lines
The NDP government in 2007 overruled Manitoba Hydro's original plan to run the line down the east side of Lake Winnipeg, choosing a longer west-side route instead.
The line will run 1,400 kilometres and will cost more than $3 billion to build.
Critics of the plan, including the Progressive Conservatives, said it will cost at least $1 billion more than an east side route, which is 50 per cent shorter.
A major factor in the NDP's decision was the protection of a proposed UNESCO World Heritage site that straddles the Manitoba-Ontario border on the east side of the province.
Conawapa, on the Nelson River 90 kilometres from Gillam, Man., would be the largest hydroelectric project ever built in northern Manitoba, capable of generating 1,380 megawatts of electricity.
Keeyask, also on the Nelson River, would produce about 600 megawatts, while Wuskwatim would produce 200 megawatts on the Burntwood River, southwest of Thompson.