Licensing reviews

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Selkirk Generating Station

We submitted an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Environment Act Licence Review (EALR) of the Selkirk Generating Station (GS) to Manitoba Conservation in October 2005. A decision regarding the station license is pending.

The purpose of the EIS and the EALR process is to ensure Selkirk GS – one of the utility’s two thermal plants – is operating in accordance with prevailing regulations and standards. It also provides Manitoba Hydro the opportunity to implement voluntary improvements to ensure the station operates in accordance with Manitoba Hydro’s internal Environmental Management Policy. In addition, the licence review process allows Manitoba Hydro to update the terms and conditions of the existing Environment Act Licence to more accurately reflect the current and future operation of the station.

Role of the Selkirk Generating Station

On average, Manitoba Hydro generates approximately 95% of its electricity from hydraulic resources. The remaining 5% is provided by a combination of thermal resources and electricity imports. The Selkirk plant contributes to Manitoba Hydro’s thermal resources.

Selkirk GS is a valuable asset to Manitoba Hydro. The station is a clean, low-impact thermal station that can be relied upon to produce energy in times of constrained supplies from primary generation sources. Since converting from coal-fired operation to natural gas-fired operation, Selkirk is considered among the lowest emitting thermal power plants in Canada. The station’s operations produce virtually no emissions of mercury, metals, or sulphur dioxide. Emissions of other combustion by-products are insignificant. Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), produced while firing natural gas, are fewer than produced by other fossil fuels which reduces the GHG inventory that Manitoba Hydro manages under the Corporation’s long-term GHG management strategy.

The station employs two independent generating units to produce electricity. Each unit consists of a steam generator, a steam turbine-generator, and auxiliary systems. The steam generator combusts the feedstock fuel and heats water to produce steam; the steam turbine converts steam into rotational energy which is coupled to an electrical generator to produce electrical energy. The electrical energy enters Manitoba Hydro’s grid through a transmission substation used for regulating voltages.

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Environmental impact statement for the operation of the Selkirk Generating Station

Volumes 1 and 2 were originally submitted to Manitoba Conservation in October 2005. Both volumes were subsequently revised in February 2007 following review by the provincial Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).

Volume 1 – Report

Volume 2 – Appendices

Volume 3 was submitted to Manitoba Conservation in March 2006.

Volume 3 – Response to TAC Review

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Selkirk Generating Station environmental aspects

Selkirk’s water systems include the water treatment plant that produces process water for the steam cycle; the cooling water system used to condense the steam exiting the steam turbine; and service water systems for cooling auxiliary equipment.

Liquid effluents include heated cooling water discharged to Cooks Creek, and water treatment wastes, domestic sewage, and site run-off discharged to the Red River.

Combustion gases, primarily water vapour, carbon dioxide, and some oxides of nitrogen, are released to the atmosphere via the boiler stack.


The intermittent operation of the Selkirk GS causes the frequency, nature, and magnitude of effects on the local aquatic ecosystem to be a function of the timing of operation, the amount and duration of generation, and the discharge present in the Red River and Cooks Creek at the time of generation.

Over the plant’s history, many mitigation measures have been incorporated to respond to observed and anticipated conditions and to comply with the station’s regulatory approvals. These measures prevent or reduce the impacts on the aquatic ecosystem and will be continued. Additional measures will also be implemented to further reduce the effects of operation.

After several decades of operation at Selkirk, the local reach of the Red River and Cooks Creek continue to support an abundant and diverse fish community, indicating the existing operation of the station has had no notable, long term effects to the local fish populations. This observation, in conjunction with the numerous studies that describe conditions in the aquatic environment during periods of station operation and shut down, demonstrate that continued operation of the station in a manner similar to that of the past will not have a detectable adverse effect on the local fish populations. In addition, when mitigation measures are taken into account, study results indicate that even under the theoretical scenario of continuous generation most effects would remain minimal.

Air quality

The conclusion from the air quality assessment is that emissions from Selkirk when operated at maximum rate and combined with background ambient concentrations are either low or insignificant with respect to Manitoba and Canadian air quality objectives.


The environmental assessment concluded that there are no significant adverse impacts to wildlife, vegetation, and groundwater from the operation of Selkirk.

Risk assessment

The assessment of possible short-term (acute) effects (such as respiratory health impacts) arising from Selkirk’s operations indicated the maximum emissions for all the combustion gases, including background levels, were not significant. Long-term (chronic) effects were also negligible. A screening level ecological risk assessment found there is no potential for an ecological effect and a more detailed assessment is not necessary.

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Manitoba Water Power Act licensing

In Manitoba, all projects that use water to produce power are subject to the Manitoba Water Power Act (WPA) and its Regulations. A new development is initially authorized under an Interim Licence which allows a proponent to build the project and, after a period of operation, confirm that the existing licence terms are suitable. If the Minister of Conservation and Climate is satisfied that the licensee has met the terms and conditions of the Interim Licence, a Final Licence is issued. This is not a permanent licence, nor is it automatically renewed. The maximum length of term that can be granted is 50 years. When that term comes to an end, the licensee requests a Renewal Licence. If granted, this licence will also have a fixed term. Manitoba Hydro has 19 hydraulic facilities with WPA licences. The status of licensing for each of these facilities is located at the Government of Manitoba Environment, Climate and Parks website.

Manitoba Hydro hydraulic projects

1 Note: These projects are owned by a partnership and are not wholly owned by Manitoba Hydro.

Due to widespread public interest in our Lake Winnipeg Regulation Project, here is a summary on the status of the WPA licensing for this project:

WPA Final Licence for Lake Winnipeg Regulation Project

In 2015, the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission (CEC) conducted a review regarding the licensing of LWR. On July 31, 2014, we submitted a document in support of our request for a Final Licence (see below).

A Final Licence would be expected to run until July 16, 2026, which is 50 years from the completion of construction and commencement of operation of LWR. Manitoba Hydro expects to apply for a Renewal Licence before a Final Licence expires.

Interim Licence

The Province of Manitoba issued an Interim Licence under the Manitoba WPA for LWR on November 18, 1970 and a Supplementary Interim Licence authorized on August 8, 1972. The Interim Licence, a standard feature of the Water Power Regulation, authorized the design, construction, and subsequent operation of LWR. Construction was completed in 1976. Since then, LWR has operated under the authority of the Interim Licence.

Manitoba CEC submission

The Manitoba CEC reviewed the licensing of LWR. Their report is available at CEC 2015 Final Report.


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