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New transmission line to Saskatchewan under construction

Manitoba Hydro has begun construction on a new transmission line to deliver clean, renewable hydroelectric power to its neighbour to the west.

The Birtle Transmission Project is an 80-kilometre (about 50 miles) 230-kV transmission line that will run from Birtle Station in western Manitoba to the Manitoba–Saskatchewan boundary where it will connect with another transmission line in Saskatchewan.

The new line will allow Manitoba Hydro to fulfill a recent power purchase agreement with SaskPower, Saskatchewan’s electrical utility. The 2 utilities recently signed an agreement that will see up to 215 megawatts (MW) of hydroelectric capacity added to the SaskPower grid. The agreement will bring Manitoba Hydro’s total exports to SaskPower up to 315 MW. Financial terms of the sale are confidential, but there are mutual benefits for customers of both SaskPower and Manitoba Hydro.

“This will benefit customers in both provinces by reducing carbon emissions,” said Manitoba Hydro CEO Jay Grewal. “It allows our hydro stations to backstop SaskPower’s investment in renewable energy, helping them meet their greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by diversifying their energy supply mix.”

SaskPower has set a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions 40% from 2005 levels by 2030 by adding more renewable and lower-emitting generation. Hydroelectricity is among the cleanest forms of energy, comparable to solar and wind but with the added benefits of built-in storage, scale, and dependability.

The Birtle Transmission Project and sale of energy from Manitoba Hydro will assist SaskPower’s efforts to add renewable energy sources like hydroelectricity, wind and solar to meet its targets. Importing power from Manitoba Hydro will also allow SaskPower meet Saskatchewan’s growing demand for electricity using a reliable, non-emitting generation source.

The Birtle Transmission Project is being built by a joint venture partnership between the Indigenous community of Birdtail Sioux and Forbes Bros. Inc.

Construction started in July and continues through the winter. The line is expected to be in service by June 1, 2021.

The estimated cost of the line is $69.3 million (2019 estimate). The federal government is contributing up to approximately $18.8 million toward the project under the Canada Infrastructure Program.

Read more about the Birtle Transmission Project.