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This article was published 10/12/2009 (2753 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As well, Bipole III's proposed western routes, which loop around Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipegosis, run east-west almost the width of the province, from Winnipeg to the Saskatchewan border.
East-west lines are the most susceptible to power outages because of the greater frequency of storms with northerly or southerly winds.
Those were some of the details revealed at Manitoba Hydro's Open House in Winnipeg, where the public could ask questions and give input on three western routes proposed for Bipole III.
From reaction of some visitors, it's clear many people want a fourth option -- up the east side of Lake Winnipeg.
"It's Gary's gift to the environmentalists," said Bob Morrison, an engineer with Consulting Electrical Engineers, of the proposed western routes. Former premier Gary Doer mandated that Hydro build the power line down the west side so efforts to establish a UNESCO World Heritage Site in wilderness forest east of Lake Winnipeg wouldn't be jeopardized.
But an east side power line would run almost straight north instead of east-west for any portion. An east line would also be hundreds of kilometres from Bipole I and II, which run through the Interlake.
"I think Manitoba Hydro shouldn't have kowtowed to the province," said Morrison. "The difficulty you have with these long ribbons (transmission lines) is if any part of the ribbon is lost, you've lost it all."
A group of farmers from St. Claude in central Manitoba weren't happy either. They learned yesterday that all three proposed routes pass through their farms. One learned it will cut across his farm diagonally.
"It looks to me like (Bipole III) is going to go corner to corner," the producer said. "With crop dusters, this is an issue." He also expects to have several towers on his farm, since hydro towers are placed three to a mile.
The western routes are 400 to 600 kilometres longer than an eastern route. Earlier estimates were that the west route would cost $410 million more than an east route. The Opposition Conservatives claim it will cost $640 million more now.
The total cost of Bipole III is estimated at $2.24 billion but that was made in 2007. Half of the cost is for the power converter station at Conawapa.
Manitoba Hydro has held open houses along the proposed route in places like Elm Creek and The Pas. Its last two open houses are in Thompson on Dec. 15 and Gillam on Dec. 16.
Hydro officials will then gather its information and public input and decide on one of the three routes by the end of March. More consultations will follow concerning the exact path, said Patrick McGarry, senior environment assessment officer with Hydro.