The provincial government has approved an environmental licence for the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project, after about five years worth of consultations.
Manitoba Hydro is ready to start construction on the 500-kilovolt power line as soon as it gets federal approval.
Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen said by email the Crown corporation expects a federal decision on or prior to May 16.
"In the interim, we’ve planned for an accelerated construction schedule for some time, and we’ve selected two contractors to work on different sections of the line as soon as all licences are received and conditions of approval are satisfied," Owen said.
Hydro expects the transmission line to be in service by June 2020.
The Manitoba-Minnesota line will double Hydro's energy import capacity in case of power emergencies.
Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires noted it will also displace 1.5 megatonnes of carbon emissions in favour of renewable energy.
"So after five years and four extensive review processes, we have reviewed all the material and Manitoba feels very confident in issuing the licence," Squires said, adding: "And we believe that our consultations with Indigenous groups have been meaningful and consistent with the honour of the Crown."
The Manitoba Metis Federation has taken the province to court over it axing a $67.5-million agreement to compensate Métis people for the planned construction of Hydro projects, including the Manitoba-Minnesota line.
The preliminary hearing is set for April 12 in the Court of Queen's Bench in Winnipeg.
Squires said she doesn't believe the court proceedings will affect the federal licensing approval process. She pointed out the National Energy Board recommended in November the federal cabinet approve the project by the beginning of 2019.
The minister said she and her cabinet predecessor (Cathy Cox) had "extensive conversations" with the MMF about the transmission project, as well as 15 other First Nations groups in Manitoba and Ontario.
Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.