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Bipole III CEC hearings start Thursday

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The latest chapter of Manitoba Hydro’s Bipole III transmission project unfolds Thursday in front of the province’s Clean Environment Commission.

Three groups will argue their own motions before the commission’s panel in a day-long hearing at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

The Bipole III Coalition, a citizen’s group that opposes the project, is to argue that the estimated $3.28-billion Bipole III line should be scrapped in favour of reconfiguring the Dorsey Converter Station to bring more stability to Hydro’s transmission system.

The Consumers Association of Manitoba is to argue Hydro’s environmental impact assessment needs to be enhanced before full hearings on the project can begin and Peguis First Nation is to argue there has not been full consultation on the project as mandated under section 35 of Canada’s constitution.

The Green Party of Manitoba and Manitoba Wildlands, a local environmental group, may also make oral presentations, time permitting.

Manitoba Hydro has said the Bipole III project, slated to be built down the west side of the province, is needed to bring more reliability to the utility’s transmission system and in time to deliver more surplus power to customers in the United States.

However, the viability of the project has been recently questioned not only because of its proposed route, but because sales to the U.S. have slipped due to ongoing poor economic conditions south of the border.

The advent of plentiful supplies of cheap shale gas to produce power has also raised criticism that the new bipole, to be the third transmission line from Hydro’s northern generating stations, is not needed.

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