It appears an adjournment may be in order for the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission (CEC) hearings underway on the proposed 1400 km Bipole III DC Transmission project.
Bipole III, estimated cost $3.28 billion including converter stations, would run down the west side of the province to bring more reliability to Hydro's system, and enable future hydro electric developments such as Keeyask and Conawapa.
Manitoba Hydro announced alterations to the proposed route to avoid fragile caribou and moose habitat on October 23, 2012 in response to concerns raised by Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Environmental Approvals Branch.
The route changes were announced nearly one-month into CEC hearings, and without updates to the December 2011 environmental impact statement or supplemental materials.
"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 (MMF) lawyer Jason Madden told the CEC November 6, 2012.
"I believe it is necessary for Manitoba Hydro to prepare a written supplemental report to its environmental impact statement, in which it outlines the environmental effects of the route changes in sufficient detail for the identified effects to be considered by the CEC, as well as any affected parties and registered participants in the current public review process," wrote Tracey Braun, Director of Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Environmental Approvals Branch in a November 9, 2012 letter to Manitoba Hydro, the CEC, and all participants in the current CEC hearings.
"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 November 6, 2012.
The CEC has not yet announced an adjournment, and hearings are scheduled to resume in Winnipeg at 9am on Tuesday November 13, 2012 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.
View November 9, 2012 Winnipeg Free Press coverage
View November 9, 2012 Tracey Braun, Director of Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Environmental Approvals Branch letter (PDF)
View November 9, 2012 Manitoba Metis Federation response to Tracey Braun's November 9, 2012 letter (PDF)
View Manitoba Environment Act online public registry file #5433.00 Bipole III Transmission Project
View Clean Environment Commission Bipole III Hearings page
View Manitoba Wildlands BiPole III 500 kV HVDC Transmission Project page
View Manitoba Wildlands Manitoba Hydro Projects: BiPole III CEC Hearings page
CEC, Manitoba Conservation, Winnipeg Free Press