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Manitoba plans response to hydro project report recommendations

Manitoba plans response to hydro project report recommendations
MANITOBA HYDRO — The Keeyask Dam project, pictured, was one of several Manitoba Hydro projects criticized in an economic review.

WINNIPEG — After a review of Manitoba Hydro projects that produced 51 recommendations, the province has begun assembling a team to respond to the report and a panel to provide guidance on future Manitoba Hydro decisions.

The recommendations were the result of an economic review of Bipole III and Keeyask (ERBK) from commissioner Brad Wall.

“Our government is committed to taking action to create strong and transparent policies to ensure future Manitoba Hydro projects are both accountable and demonstrate clear values to Manitobans,” said Jeff Wharton crowns services minister in a statement. “The external experts will support the project team on critical recommendations in the areas of procurement and contracting. They will serve in an advisory capacity over the next year to guide the development of action plans that address these recommendations.”

The members of the panel are:
• Mark Podlasly – director of economic policy at the First Nations Major Projects Coalition;
• Tim Stanley – engineer and president at Stratice Consulting; and
• Chris Gauer – engineer and former president, project delivery, Infrastructure Ontario.

“Leveraging the skills and expertise of our panel members will allow us to strengthen the future of Manitoba Hydro and find ways to better protect Manitobans by not running the risk of repeating the same mistakes with past decisions from former governments,” said Wharton.

The project team, chaired by Manitoba Crown Services and composed of various members across government departments, will prepare a response to all 51 recommendations. It will undertake a further examination of areas such as cost-reimbursable contracts, impact of project labour agreements, a deeper analysis of the Bipole III routing decision, the failure to disclose escalating cost estimates to the Public Utilities Board (PUB), and how $1.2 billion was spent on Keeyask/Bipole III prior to its approval by the PUB.

A public formal response detailing what is being done in response to the report and future actions that will be taken is scheduled to be tabled in the house in fall of 2022, the minister said.

Under the Crowns Corporations Governance and Accountability Act, the minister provided a directive to Manitoba Hydro to support the implementation of the province’s response to the 51 recommendations outlined in the ERBK.

“Implementing the recommendations of commissioner Brad Wall’s review showcases our commitment to strengthen Manitoba Hydro,” added Wharton. “We remain committed to the future of Manitoba Hydro and the integral work they do for Manitobans.”

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