Transmission line routing process

Transmission lines are sets of wires, called conductors, that carry high voltage electric power from station to station in our system. They run over long distances across the province. Conductors are connected to large metal towers that are placed on public and private properties along a transmission line route.

We use a transmission line routing process that’s based on an internationally recognized methodology. The process has been used on over 200 transmission projects in North America. We first used it on the St. Vital Transmission Complex in 2013. We’ve also used it on the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project and the Birtle Transmission Project. The process:

  • incorporates routing preferences from human, environmental and engineering perspectives;
  • uses these perspectives to help minimize overall impact of the project.

5 steps in selecting a transmission line route

  1. Determine a route planning area A lens shape shows possible planning area between points A and B.
    • We determine start and end points and develop a broad route-planning area based on opportunities and constraints on the landscape.
  2. Plan alternative routes Alternative routes show segments branch off and then return to the direct route between points A to B.
    • We draw segments connecting the start and end points within the route-planning area. These segments form alternative route options which we present to the public, stakeholder groups, Indigenous communities and organizations, and to a team of specialists (biologists, agricultural, engineers, heritage, etc.) for feedback.
    • We collect and incorporate public and Indigenous feedback throughout the transmission line route selection process:
      • During the decision-making process, we document site-specific issues and feedback from those potentially affected by a possible route. We pass this compiled information to our specialists to help them enhance their assessments of a preferred route.
      • Local feedback and knowledge of the environment help us design the route and plan tower placement.
      • Feedback received may require the development of mitigative segments which will be considered by the project team.
      • Information we collect helps us determine ways to mitigate potential impact on people, wildlife and the environment.
  3. Develop mitigative segments The mitigative routes branch off the direct route from points A to B and its alternative segments.
    • A mitigative segment is a part of the route we have added to the transmission line routing process based on feedback from the public or from our project specialists. These segments are added to mitigate concerns or a potential effect on the landscape.
      • We evaluate these segments for technical feasibility and cost. We also consider whether the segment results in a “net-minimization of effect”, which means we evaluate whether or not the segment will shift effect from one landowner to another. If our evaluations deem the new segments are reasonable, they are then incorporated in the comparative evaluation of routes to determine a preferred route.
  4. Determine a preferred route The preferred route combines a direct route from points A to B with alternate and mitigative segments.
    • A comparative evaluation of alternative routes determines the preferred route that will be presented to the public and Indigenous communities and organizations. Our specialists focus their evaluations on this area to better understand potential effects of the preferred route on people and the environment.
    • Once we’ve determined a subset of routes to select a preferred route, we compare the options for:
      • costs;
      • community considerations;
      • reliability;
      • risk to schedule;
      • built environment and the natural environment.
  5. Finalize the preferred route and submit an environmental assessment report A final preferred route with one mitigative branch between points A to B.
    • Following our presentation of the preferred route, we consider potential changes based on feedback from the public, Indigenous communities and organizations, and project specialists. After incorporating feedback, we determine a final preferred route and present it to regulators for review.
    • During the regulatory review process with Manitoba Sustainable Development, we provide details regarding transmission line routing and the environmental impact statement is available for review and comment.

Throughout each step of the transmission line route selection process we are regularly planning, gathering feedback, analyzing information, and evaluating. Feedback from stakeholders assists in the development of criteria used to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of route options. Criteria are developed to represent the natural, the human and engineering perspectives, i.e.:

  • Natural environment: acres of natural forest, acres of wetland area, stream and river crossings;
  • Engineering: project cost, existing transmission line crossings, length;
  • Human environment: proximity to residences, land use and capability, historic resources, public use areas.

Timelines for route selection depend on the project. They are closely associated with public and Indigenous engagement and environmental assessment processes. Some projects, based on complexity, may require more or fewer steps to determine a final preferred route.

Who decides the final preferred route?

We work with a range of environmental, socio-economic and technical specialists. We strive to balance concerns and feedback from the public, project specialists, stakeholder groups, and indigenous communities and organizations. Our goal is to achieve consensus amongst a project team (with a range of specialties) on the final preferred route of a transmission project. The route is considered final once approved by the regulator.