Newly-elected Manitoba premier has strong feelings on Bipole III project

Manitoba’s Premier-elect has strong feelings about a $4.6 billion hydro transmission line in the province and is considering halting the project.

In a conference call with rural media this morning, the day after winning a record majority government for the Progressive Conservative Party, Brian Pallister said he will make a decision on the Bipole III powerline after speaking with outgoing Premier Greg Selinger and his staff.

“The Bipole III west line is one of the dumbest, most poorly considered projects in the history of any government, anywhere,” Pallister said.

“With respect to the Bipole III west line, I’m on it. We’ll do the best we can to get the information… so we know how to proceed…. (My) hope is we can still stop this project but I have to see the information first.”

The $4.6 billion power transmission project will run from northern hydroelectric dams to the Saskatchewan border, then west of Lake Manitoba before cutting across prime agricultural land in southern Manitoba.


Bipole III has been contentious since 2010 when Manitoba Hydro and the provincial government unveiled its route.


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Landowners, engineers and former Manitoba Hydro executives have said the route is too long and expensive and will burden the utility with debt.


Many believe the line should run east of Lake Winnipeg, which would be shorter and likely cheaper to build.

Before the April 19 election, Pallister and the Tories laid out priorities for their first 100 days in office.

In that document they promised to send the “Bipole III project to the Public Utilities Board for a proper review.”

Pallister said he wants to collect all the relevant information on the status of Bipole III because the former NDP government concealed project details.

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Manitoba Hydro has planned out a route and negotiated compensation with most landowners affected by the right of way, but it’s unclear how much money has been spent.

“I’ve asked for reports and gotten blacked out documents. I’ve not received reports… that have been done some time ago. This lack of openness and transparency has been a problem,” Pallister said.

“We’re going to get all the information we can, as quickly as possible, so we’re able to deal (with it) from a position of information.”

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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  • John Fefchak

    “Many believe the line should run east of Lake Winnipeg, which would be shorter and likely cheaper to build”

    A review is useless.
    The following letter appeared in the Wpg. Sun newspaper in Sept, of 2015, and it seems to me that Hydro and government officials were unable to make a deal with
    the east side area residents. Would Pallister consider expropriation, even if that was a possibility.? A Partnership now might be very expensive for Manitobans.

    Re: “East-side road,” Letters, Sept. 3.

    I want to clarify a comment in regard to the east-side road. I’ve lived all my life on the east side of Lake Winnipeg where we have access to an all-season road. The NDP government didn’t make the decision to submit for a Unesco designation in our area. Five First Nations initiated this process with the support from the NDP. A few years ago, Manitoba Hydro came to our community with the Bipole III proposal and did consult with us. In the meeting, there were ideas shared of what the people wanted in exchange for the project. There was mention of partnership, alleviated costs in hydro bills and none of these ideas were accepted by Hydro. The community told them there and then, if you don’t want to listen to our ideas, then move on — we don’t want Bipole III in our traditional territories. A big example of a big corporation wanting to take and giving nothing back in return.

    William Young

  • richard

    It seems as if Manitoba is “bipolar” about the Bipole?

  • ed

    Brian will definitely put an abrupt stop to that project so that he is not being accused of breaking election promises. These firm actions on all promises will define this government for sure. Or maybe not!

  • Jayson

    One day in office and Pallister is already starting work on his multi-billion dollar boondoggle that is going to cost Manitoba tens of billions of dollars. Could someone please give Pallister a map of Canada so he can see that the point of Bipole III is to act as a backup for Southern Manitoba and, more importantly, create a high voltage, high volume connection to the rest of Western Canada.

    All the experts and common sense point to the fact in the future we are going to need an interconnected power grid. Bipole III creates a connection to the West to link up with Saskatchewan and Alberta. Bipole III is Manitoba’s version of the Energy East pipeline, because it’s construction is going to allow Manitoba to get it’s energy exports to market. The only difference is that Bipole III is already under construction and Energy East is most likely a pipe dream that will never get built.

    So please for the future of Manitoba. Pallister don’t throw away the millions of dollars spent on Bipole III so you can redo the same work for the East, only for the next government to come in and have to redo all the work for the West side so Manitobans can get their power to market. Or worse yet, throw away all the work, redo it for the East side, build it on the East side, only to have to build another line on the West side.

    • John Fefchak

      Jayson. Please send this to every newspaper in Manitoba. Readers have to know. What you have stated makes good old fashioned common sense.

    • Norbert The dog

      Sorry but your statements are wrong. The contracts are with Wisconsin, not Saskatchewan or Alberta. Yes Manitoba has tried to sell power to Saskatchewan but they are never interested. Manitoba even told Canada that there should be an EAST / WEST GRID. But no one is buying.
      So there is no future in selling power to Saskatchewan, the now is Wisconsin. There is more a future with Ontario, as they have shown interest more than once. Therefore go back to the EAST of Lake Winnipeg.
      The second thing, is that I know for a fact that the NDP and Hydro had laid out GPS position for both a road and Bipole III on the EAST Side of lake Winnipeg. So it was the plan before the NDP, changed there mind for political reasons.

      • Jayson

        Brad Wall has staked his political position as being the voice against the transition away from fossil fuels. It’s only a matter of time before he gets completely drowned out or he caves for the sake of the future of his province. He may also just change his tune once he sees how Rachel Notley’s asking nice and politely for new pipelines in exchange for massive environmental-friendly changes works way better than being a stick in the mud and trying to prevent the transition away from fossil fuels. We may also not need Saskatchewan other than to pass through it to Alberta, as they try to clean and green their electricity sources.

        Either way, Bipole III isn’t being built for the now. It’s being built for the future. It’s being built for when all the new hydro stations under construction start coming online in the next decade. It’s being built for when all provinces want an interconnected “smart” grid that is able to balance energy sources and load for the days when the sun doesn’t shine on the solar panels, the wind doesn’t blow at the wind farm, and the natural gas(or coal or any other source) power plant has to get shut down for maintenance. Massive projects like this aren’t built for “now”, they are built for 50 years into the future.

      • John Fefchak

        Political reasons? “THEY could not make a deal with the residents on the east side” That may be political to you,but I expect it was a huge
        bargaining chip that Hydro and the NDP government could not handle.

  • GreenSenior

    … If modern society gave conservation and energy-efficiency as much attention as they deserve, we wouldn’t need Bipole III, at all. Boondoggle, is right. Why is it really “needed?” To satisfy the never-ending human lust for useless crap like more X boxes and Iphones for toddlers and power for industry to supply us with its never-ending parade of widgets. What scares me most is that the Tories, who have no empathy for or connection to our wild places whatsoever, will opt for the East Side route, so we can kiss goodbye to the dream of a World Heritage site there, while crippling that pristine part of the boreal forest as an effective “lung” to fend off greenhouses gas emissions and climate change threatening our planet.
    http://www.PlanetInPeril.ca