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Updated: A corridor for power, but whose?

Posted: 06/17/2014 3:46 AM | Comments: 0

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Over the past couple of years I've written quite a bit about Manitoba Hydro's plan to build a transmission line from south of Winnipeg to the interior of Minnesota.

The Manitoba portion of the line is called the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project.

 
The Minnesota portion is called the Great Northern Transmission Line.

Under a proposal now being studied by the Public Utilities Board, Manitoba Hydro will own 49 per cent of the U.S. side of the 500 KV transmission line, with Minnesota Power owning the rest.

 
The PUB is also studying the need for the proposed Keeyask and Conawapa generating stations on the Nelson River. They are to report to government June 20. 
 
Simply, Hydro says it needs the line to sell more electricity to American utilities. Under state mandates they're required to supply more renewable power to their customers. They are also under White House pressure to reduce green-house gas emissions from their older coal-burning plants. Some plants have closed and others are on the list to close.
 
Hydro says the other benefit to the line is that it can import more power to Manitoba from the U.S. at times when we need it. Like during a drought. 
 
Overall, Hydro says the line would add more reliability to the regional grid.
 
Manitoba Hydro and Minnesota Power are currently in the process of selecting a route for the new transmission line.
 
Below are letters that have landed in my inbox about what some landowners in south-east Manitoba think about the proposed route. There is also opposition to the line in Minnesota.
1)

To:
Scott Thompson CEO at Manitoba Hydro
Patrick McGarry, Manitoba Hydro
Shannon Johnson, Manitoba Hydro
Trevor Joyal, Licensing & Environmental Assessment Department, Manitoba Hydro
Leslie McLaren, CBC, Winnipeg, MB
Bruce Owen, Winnipeg Free Press
Tom Brodbeck, Winnipeg Sun
Grant Burr, The Carillon, Steinbach, MB
Premiere Greg Selinger, Winnipeg, MB
Kelvin Goertzen, MLA Steinbach, Steinbach, MB
Ron Lemieux, MLA Dawson Trail, Lorette, MB
Ralph Eichler,MLA Lakeside, Winnipeg, MB
Brian Pallister, MLA Fort Whyte, Winnipeg, MB
Stan Struthers Minister of administering the MB Hydro Act, Winnipeg, MB
Gord Macintosh, Minister of Conservation & Water, Winnipeg, MB


Everyone has a story and this is mine.

How dare HYDRO put neighbours against neighbours!! Hydro wants to put a huge hydro line (Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project) through our property by destroying trees and making runways for dirt bikes, four wheelers, snowmobiles and open access to our property from many directions.

I know it is private property where Hydro has their lines but they don't care. I
see it as we have a line a mile away from us now, four-wheeler trails under the Hydro lines but who cares, I don't want that in my front yard. And since there could be one line, are there plans for other Hydro lines in the future? Where they could destroy more trees to get closer to our home?

We built in the middle of 160 acres for privacy and Hydro wants to destroy this piece of paradise that we have and chalk it up to progress, at who's expense? Stress and sleepless nights has invaded our lives over this NEW proposed Route 202 and 203, were selected sometime, we don't know when, but we only found out in April 2014, NOT in October 2013, like everyone else did!

Hydro had over 700,000 routes to choose from and as of April 15 2014 Hydro came up with a this NEW route and it's on our property where we live and many others WITHOUT any notification.

If it wasn't for that we had land on another route that Hydro had their eye on we would not of known about this new route 203. All of our neighbours were just as devastated as we were to hear about the two new routes that we're not listed last fall of 2013 and all of a sudden listed in April 2014. What!

We have less notice and less say (10 per cent compared to the 33 per cent we would of
had in round one) about the matter. When asked hydro why they moved the line over from our agriculture land to bush land four miles way east, the response was it was too close to Bipole III.

Really! Hydro had no idea that Bipole III was going to be there. WOW, It's only been in the works for five years.

My husband went knocking on their doors to let our neighbours know, and no one knew about the NEW proposed route, or really anything about MMTP. What a surprise! Is Hydro trying to keep people in the dark?
Hydro could of sent everyone involved in this mess, a note in our Hydro bill. We got their notices when their rates went up, a couple of weeks age, didn't you get
yours? Yes, you did. How easy would that of been for them to let people know? Not hard at all.

Our taxes will stay the same but our property values will depreciate, again we lose. Hydro will have to put up their rates and again we lose. We live in the country for a reason and that's privacy. To enjoy nature at it's best any time of the year.

Peace and tranquility comes with country living which we enjoy. Hydro comes along and says it's just business, the line has to go somewhere. They plan to bulldoze the trees, put their lines up with their huge steel towers and have the nerve to say it is still your land! WOW!

It's our land with, no trees, a new runway for the four wheelers, privacy gone, and have to pay taxes on top of that for land we can't use, we lose again.

We have about 10 - 15 acres of old wild spruce and tamarac next to where Hydro wants to go through. (I can't put my arms around some of those big trees) If Hydro cuts their 330-foot swath next to the old trees (they are growing on boggy peat so they have shallow roots) these delicate trees will simply fall over so more destruction again and all for what, Hydro's profit, we lose again.

We have from the tiniest humming bird to the tallest Sandhill cranes (which nest every year) and the whip-poor-will that sing for us in the evening. People go to their cottages and campgrounds, where they go in the summer to experience what we have. Hydro wouldn't think of going near those places and yet it is OK to go close to our home where we live all year round, how dare they try to do that.

The worst part of this whole thing is that Hydro wants us to pick which route the lines should go.
We are suppose to point our figure to our neighbours and say stay off of our property, put it on someone else's. In the country we are all neighbours!!!

This is my story, how about all the other neighbours and their stories, or does it even matter?

Thank you,
Donna Teleglow,
RM Tache

2)

There's a lot of tossing and turning going on at night in south-eastern Manitoba right now.

Those who live along two potential routes targeted by Hydro for its proposed Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Line are counting the days until June 20.

That's when they'll find out if the Public Utilities Board has given its blessing to Hydro's plans.

The worried and sleep-deprived residents feel like David facing a four-headed Goliath, the four heads belonging to Premier Greg Selinger, Manitoba Hydro, Alberta Big Oil, and Uncle Sam.

Greg Selinger and the NDP are mystifyingly supportive of the Hydro project, which will represent the biggest financial gamble in Manitoba's history. The market for the extra electricity is shaky, and the fact that Hydro wants to increase what it charges Manitobans by about four per cent every year at least until 2021 does not sound like a vote-getting plan.

Alberta's oil companies are fans, however, since they want large amounts of electricity to pump increased oil through Manitoba pipelines towards Ontario and the U.S. Our children and grandchildren, inheritors of a carbon-ravaged planet, would feel differently.

And Uncle Sam is a potential energy customer. President Obama's praiseworthy initiative to phase out coal-burning plants may or may not increase demand for Manitoba electricity. That's because the Americans could easily supply their own needs by using natural gas, wind, solar and geothermal.

So it feels like those in the corridors of money and power have stacked the cards against homeowners along the potential lines.

Adding to the feelings of victimization is the fact that Hydro's method of choosing a route has been outrageously unfair.

During Round 1 of the process, Hydro says it looked at 700,000 routes. Only one of those was deemed to be a keeper.

Round 2 began in March, and included only two choices. Choice number two was apparently not good enough to be in the first round along with 699,999 others, yet so good that it is now one of Hydro's top two picks. But here's the rub - in Round 1, more weight was given to what Hydro calls the "human impact" factor. In Round 2, there is much less emphasis on human impact.

As well, residents on this route will have had only a few months to respond to their homes being pinpointed, as opposed to those involved in Round One, who had nine months to make their case.

It's not hard to see this as a pre-planned and unfair strategy on Hydro's part.

Residents of the most recently targeted route have other great concerns as well.

Along Hydro's proposed path lie intact ecosystems, untouched forests, needed wetlands, and a huge variety of plants and wildlife, some on Manitoba's threatened list (such as whip-poor-wills and the rare Culver's Root).

This is an area where birdsong and the rustling of leaves form the natural soundtrack; a transmission line of this magnitude creates a loud drone. Cutting a wide swath through the forest would make a popular pathway for off-road vehicles, and result in trespassing, noise, fires, litter, and partying in what used to be someone's wooded sanctuary.

These folks have already done their civic Hydro duty, since a smaller transmission line already runs along part of this route. Forcing them to bear the burden of a second, much larger route is unethical, especially since this line is not necessary - except from Hydro's money-making point of view. Along the first part of this route, Hydro has already placed two transmission lines; adding a third would create a veritable Hydro wasteland 700 feet wide.

Wherever the line is put, it brings a huge devaluation of property value, a risk to health from exposure to electric and magnetic fields, and the end to some homeowners' plans to invite their children and grandchildren to build on their land.

It's time for Hydro, and the provincial government, to adopt a healthier, more modern mindset. Hydro needs to look honestly and seriously at alternative energy sources like solar, wind, and geothermal, which are rapidly becoming cheaper and more efficient and are being used very successfully elsewhere.

Hydro should exponentially expand its Power Smart program; how much conservation could a even a small portion of $34 billion (the cost of Hydro's current projects) buy? The first and most important of the three R's is "Reduce", and we have barely scratched the surface of reduction.

Hydro's current provincially-backed plan acts in the service of greed and wastefulness, and it seeks to make money on the backs of landowners and ratepayers. This is a plan that should be scrapped.

Lorna Kopelow

3)

Honourable Greg Selinger
204 Legislative Building
405 Broadway Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8


Dear Premier Selinger.

I am writing this letter as an impact statement on the proposed Manitoba Hydro line that is
potentially going to run right next to our son, daughter-in-law, and gradchild's back door; within
500 feet of their back door.

Nobody is sure of the health effects due to electromagnetic fields and chronic prolonged exposure
to EMF's. Our granddaughter already has a susceptible immune system due to environmental
effects. What the long term effects of increased carcinogenicity will be, we don't know.

In the home our son now lives in, we lived there as a young family. He came down with a disease that
affected his hip w hen he was eight years old. We were told it was not a hereditary disease, but
specialists could not give us a reason why he got it. It has affected his whole life leading up to hip
replacement in his early 30s.

In the 90s my husbands parents moved into this house and in a very short time my husband's mother was showing the advanced signs of Alzheimer's disease and died within two years of diagnosis. Now, maybe she had it anyway, but maybe the effects could have been exasperated by the presence of the hydro line being so close to their house. How will this new line affect people in the future?

Because this line is gong right beside our son's home, we fear the property value of his home will
go down significantly. Nobody wants to live right beside a huge power line when you don't know
what the long term effects will be on a person, not to mention the wildlife that comes down to
the English River to drink or the beaver that build their dams along the waterway.

This water supply leads right in to Cooks Creek and eventually Lake Winnipeg. We have a herd of 15 or 16
deer that feed on our property and the property adjacent to our land and our sons' home. This is
also a concern because our family also farms the land adjacent to us where the current hydro line
exists. That was a bone of contention back in the mid-70s, but it didn't seem to matter that
people protested the line going through our back doors then and it seems that Hydro doesn't care
now. Hydro did what they wanted without consequence to them.

The original plan was for the Hydro line to go seven miles to the east of us through Crown land right
down to the US border. This line w ould not have impacted so many people and so many homes.

Why was this route changed? Why was their no communication to the people that if affects?

People in our area have been trying very hard to be heard by Manitoba Hydro, but nobody wants to
listen. Route 201-204 was not a candidate for a transmission line in Hydro's Round One; now it is
a favoured option, along with route 205. We had no input into the first round and no chance to
voice our opposition.

Manitoba Hydro has outdated maps; half of the homes in the area were not included; homes that
have been there since 2003 and some earlier. Most of those homes will lose the ability to subdivide
if they want to; because, who would want to live next to a power line that powerful and
noisey? Nobody!

What about the noise emission from this lines? When these lines are in full operation their will be
a steady noise coming from the lines. What about our livelihood? We raise cattle for market.
What will be the long term effects on them if this line is over their heads and emitting whatever
and making noise at all times. Will their be any side affects on their reproduction system? What if
you have a dairy operation? Will this affect production of and quality of milk?

This line will destroy the peace and quiet of living in a rural community or farm land. Will we still
hear the sounds of birds chirping or bees buzzing? What about the reproduction of these poor
animals? How do we keep these birds and animals from leaving our area and finding new homes?

We will no longer have the honour and privilege of watching deer feed close by, or a bear cross
the road, moving onto his/her next meal, or a robin plucking worms off the lawn, or the Baltimore
Oriels coming to eat oranges out of our trees to give them enough energy to move on, what
about those humming birds? They fly so far already to feed here for the summer, are they going
to come back? Would you?

What is Manitoba Hydro going to dig up on their way through? They will be bringing their big equipment
down our gravel roads that are not well maintained now ; what happens after they come through
with their big machines? Will they fix the roads as they go? I think probably not, they are not
worried about us.

Please think about this before Manitoba Hydro chooses to build this big transmission line beside our
homes, our families, and our livelihood. Who is going to feed the world when Hydro cuts through
farmland one family at a time?

Tom and Maureen Fryza

 4)

Scott Thompson CEO at Manitoba Hydro
Patrick McGarry, Manitoba Hydro
Shannon Johnson, Manitoba Hydro
Trevor Joyal, Licensing & Environmental Assessment Department, Manitoba Hydro
Leslie McLaren, CBC, Winnipeg, MB
Bruce Owen, Winnipeg Free Press
Tom Brodbeck, Winnipeg Sun
Grant Burr, The Carillon, Steinbach, MB
Premiere Greg Selinger, Winnipeg, MB
Kelvin Goertzen, MLA Steinbach, Steinbach, MB
Ron Lemieux, MLA Dawson Trail, Lorette, MB
Ralph Eichler,MLA Lakeside, Winnipeg, MB
Brian Pallister, MLA Fort Whyte, Winnipeg, MB
Stan Struthers Minister of administering the MB Hydro Act, Winnipeg, MB
Gord Macintosh, Minister of Conservation & Water, Winnipeg, MB


I am writing this letter to protest the placement the Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project on our property.

This property is located in Tachè municipality 1 1/2miles east of Hwy. 12 on Hwy 501 between municipal roads 37 and 38. This land has been in our family since 1944 and has basically remained the same since then. This land was passed down to my dad by his dad and now he has passed it down to me. I intend to pass it down to my daughter and my grandchildren.

In 2007 we along with Seine-Rat River Conservation District completed a water retention project on this land to prevent flooding along Fish Creek ,downstream to the Seine and down to Lorette which sustained a lot of damage in 1997. This land was perfectly suited for this project it has about 40 acres of swamp running down the middle.

A few years prior to that we were approached by councillors from Tache to do this project to prevent Lorette from flooding as it did in1997. We were introduced to SRRCD district manager Cristy Lane Carr by councillor Andy Brant of Ward 6 in Tachè.

We did this project not only for their benefit, but for ours. Also, we wanted more water kept on our land and they wanted more water kept off theirs. It was a win-win situation, so in 2005 we entered talks with SRRCD and in 2007 our project was done. SRRCD has spent a lot of time and money on this project and have since agreed to upkeep it indefinitely.

Last year in 2013 SRRCD has added a second retention project on land directly west, doubling retention capacity. Wanting to do more to conserve this land,we contacted Scott Beaton at The Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation and in 2009 we inquired about a Conservation agreement which would protect our land should something happen to us. We wanted to see how our agreement with SRRCD went before signing a new one with MHHC. Dealing with SRRCD has been a rewarding experience, for all of us.

Since then we have entered into a conservation agreement with MHHC ,we have given up our rights to land to protect it from any further development .

On April 13 2014 it has come to our attention that Hydro has proposed to site a high voltage transmission line on our property. We cannot allow this to happen!

This proposed line will wipe out our 2.-7acre building lots, cut our land in half, cross over our private driveway, proceed west to our other 80 acre parcel then turn north across Hwy 501.

They propose to put up a 200-foot tower approximately 40 feet square at the base, approximately100 feet from my private driveway. It won't be private again!

To place this proposed power line there they would have to cut down a swath of trees approximately 330-feet wide by a quarter mile long, which will open up our land to north winds which will put our conservation project in jeopardy.

We have three islands of spruce and tamarack located directly south of this proposed line. These trees are highly susceptible to wind damage since they have very shallow roots. There are springs on these islands which flow 24-7-365, which keeps them very wet. There are spruce on these islands apx 100 years old and approximately 60 feet tall, the bass of these trees are about two feet wide.

These islands of spruce and tamarack run the full width of the property. If a 330-foot swath of this was removed these 100 year old trees are at risk. I think it can be considered an old-growth forest.

By cutting a swath of trees down it would open up a runway to unwanted four-wheelers, snowmobiles, hunters and dirt bikes and other motorized vehicles. By allowing hydro vehicles down these swath they will bring in unwanted disease on their tracks and tires again threaten this project.

An environmental review of this proposed line will prove to be detrimental to my project. This is 160-acre block of land-one has way in one way out.  If this line goes through it will open it up to everyone. It will be impossible to keep anyone out with a 330-foot runway so easily accessible.

Hydro plans call for a 200-foot tower-or corner post, which I will be able to see from my kitchen, living room, and dining room. Also the wires will be over the trees which will be a constant eyesore because of the glare.

This tower will never be out or sight out of mind. I will be able to see it from anywhere in my yard.

A diverse variety of trees can be found here, spruce, tamarack, poplar, oak, birch, willows, chokecherry, Saskatoon, wild plum and many other varieties.

Diverse wildlife can also be found here. Deer, bears, coyotes, fox, beavers, mink, raccoons, river otters, squirrels, chipmunks, muskrat, geese, ducks, sandhill cranes, egrets, king fishers, blue herons, canaries, robins, humming birds, oriels, redwing blackbirds, whip-poor wills, waxwings, tree swallow, barn swallow, killdeer, hawks, owls, and many more too numerous to mention.

It has taken us over 30 years to get this far, with hundreds of thousands of dollars invested. Thirty years of hard work and the love for nature has brought us to this point were we can sit back and enjoy what has taken us so long to do. Anyone seeing this for the first time is amazed at what we have done. Many comment that it looks like a park.

We have been working with the Tachè municipality, SRRCD, MHHC and other organizations to promote conservation. Everything we do on this land is for tomorrow not for today-for the future not the present. It costs us $10,000 to get hydro line put in, thousands in roadbuilding, pond building, landscaping, and hard work to be able to live where we live in privacy. If this line is allowed to go through it would never be out of sight out of mind for us.

We have a pond in front of our house and we will see the reflection of a 200-foot tower in our pond. It would be a constant remember of what we once had "serenity."

Premier Greg Selinger has announced this week June 12 his NDP government is going to keep our rivers and lakes heathy. I have been doing my part in this for the last 30 years. It has been our mission to try to enhance wildlife and conservation in this area, by building ponds on this land to keep water here so waterfowl will have a place to nest, raise their young, leave, and return next year to do the same.

Greg Selinger laid out his plan for wet land management saying any land that has to be drained or altered must be replaced by equal or greater acreage of more value wetland capacity. Is the government prepared to practice what they preach and compensate us or replace whatever natural habitat they will be destroying by placement of the MMTP on our property? 

Our premier has also announced that MB hydro will be expanding their hydro generation capabilities. To do this they will have to flood acres upon acres of dry and semi dry land also many acres of natural wet lands, by building dams and power generation stations.

They will displace many people by doing this not to mention the toll it will have on changing there way of life. They will have to change the landscape of MB by putting up thousands of transmission towers, thousands of miles of wires, clear cut thousands of acres of bush land, cross over thousands of acres of farm land, divide thousands of parcels of land sometimes in half, disrupt the lives of hundreds of land owners and there family's forever.

Is Greg Selinger ready to compensate or replace all lands they will be destroying by allowing this line to proceed?

They will be able to do all they wish when they wish, this should be unacceptable to every landowner in Manitoba.

My wife Donna and I have decided that this hydro line proposal is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. It will destroy everything we have been working for over 30 years, it will destroy our two building lots which have a valve of over $70,000 per lot. These lots were meant for my only daughter and our grandchildren, I do not want my daughter and my grandchildren living anywhere near or under a power line.

That in mind we will be strongly objecting this proposed power line crossing our land, and we will be doing everything we can to stop it. Collecting petitions, talking to any politicians that will listen, talking to radio and TV reporters, using social media to bring attention to this situation.

We have consulted with our lawyer and are now taking steps to protect our investment of time and money that we have put into our project. Hydro has left us with no choice but to do what ever we can legally do to protect our investment. I hope it will not go to the next level but it is not up to us but up to Hydro. 

During this whole ordeal the only thing that has kept me going is the thought that someday we will all be back to normal because of the Prayer of Serenity:

"God GRANT me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, COURAGE to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE"

We bought this land to keep it from being developed and we will do WHATEVER it takes to keep it that way.

This is my story thank you for listening,

Jim Teleglow 

Clean Energy: Hydro & Wind - September 2013 from Great Northern Transmission Line on Vimeo.

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