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Bipole III plan heads for public review

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Manitoba Hydro’s plan to build the $3.28-billion Bipole III high-voltage transmission line down the west side of the province has been filed to the province for public review.

The environmental impact statement (EIS) is the latest stage in Hydro’s plan to start building the line in late 2012 with it expected to go into service in 2017.

Hydro said Thursday the EIS provides information on the environmental assessment for the project, including the 1,384-kilometre route.

Hydro says the route was chosen after extensive public and landowner consultation done between February 2008 - March 2011. The route avoids national and provincial arks and First Nation reserve lands.

Hydro also says it will provide an equitable compensation package to landowners for easements required along the right-of-way and has developed a Community Development Initiative to provide benefits to eligible communities in the vicinity of Bipole III facilities.

It’s also anticipated Manitoba’s Clean Environment Commission will hold public hearings on the project.

The new bipole line is needed to move more power from northern dams south to export markets in the northern United States. Hydro has already signed deals with utilities in Wisconsin and Minnesota to supply power over the next 20 years, earning Hydro $21 billion in anticipated revenue.

Construction of the bipole line also means construction of new dams. On the drawing board is the $5.5-billion Keeyask generating station (695 megawatts) to see first power by 2019-20 and the $7.7-billion Conawapa generating station to see first power by 2023-24.

Hydro’s newest dam, the $1.6-billion Wuskwatim generating station near Thompson (200 megawatts), comes online soon.

Four years ago the NDP decided to build the new transmission line, to be the third bringing power south from northern dams, to protect the boreal forest on east side of Lake Winnipeg, and a bid to designate it as a United Nations world heritage site.

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