|Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on June 8, 2018 at 10:05 PM|
UPDATE: NEB hearing for the MMTP
The Council of Canadians Winnipeg Chapter continues to participate in the NEB hearing for the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project. At the time of our last blog, we had completed several steps in the process.
- We submitted an Information Request to Manitoba Hydro.
- MH replied that our concerns are not relevant.
- We submitted a detailed explanation of why our concerns are entirely relevant.
- MH replied that our concerns are outside the scope of the NEB hearing and that they do not have access to the third party information that would be required to do the analyses requested.
The third item on the list is also known as a Motion to Compel Full and Adequate Response.
When Intervenors make Motions to Compel, the NEB must consider each submission and make a decision to either deny the motion or to compel Manitoba Hydro to provide a full and adequate response to the initial Information Request. The Board denied all the Motions to Compel, giving various reasons for the denial. In our case, they said that the questions were outside the scope or beyond the Board’s mandate.
Deny – Motion sought information on matters outside the scope of the proceeding, or that is beyond the Board’s mandate.
(See our previous blog on our questions about Manitoba Hydro’s ability to both export electricity and provide enough power to electrify transportation as part of Manitoba’s commitments under the Paris Accord.)
Manitoba Hydro also maintained its position that Manitoba’s electricity need in the context of climate change mitigation measures is irrelevant to their MMTP export plans.
The Chapter contends that our concerns are very relevant. The corporation cannot responsibly commit to exporting electricity over several decades when that electricity is going to be necessary to power the transition here in Manitoba.
We initially intended to submit a final reply and to file evidence supporting our argument. However, we found that other Intervenors were making the arguments very well, and we decided that our energy would be more effective elsewhere in the process. We focused on the draft conditions that will apply to the MMTP if Hydro gains NEB approval for the project.
You can read the draft conditions apps.neb-one.gc.ca/REGDOCS/Item/Filing/A90002 and our complete comments apps.neb-one.gc.ca/REGDOCS/Item/View/3573437 in the Regulatory Documents section of the NEB website.
For a brief overview of our argument, we’ve included the introduction and our recommendations here.
The Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project (MMTP or the Project) is intended to increase grid interconnection capacity between Manitoba and Minnesota, mainly to export electricity.
However, there are potential uses of this electricity and hydroelectric storage capacity within Manitoba and within Canada. These in-Canada uses may be more economically feasible and have better environmental and socio-economic outcomes than the Project as currently proposed. Manitoba Wildlands’ evidence report, The Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project is Not Needed, outlines this case admirably under more or less status quo conditions regarding climate action.
Thus, it seems appropriate that the NEB conditions for the operation of the Project ensure that adequate electricity is available for use in Manitoba and elsewhere in Canada. In addition, on May 18, 2018, the NEB specifically invited comment on the relevance of the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission (CEC) report to MMTP conditions.
On the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission Report
“The Board invites Participants to comment as to which, if any, Report recommendations the Board ought to consider adopting as conditions on a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, should one be issued. Participants’ comments should include a justification as to why the Board ought to adopt a particular recommendation, including an explanation of how the recommendation relates to matters which must be decided by the Board.”
The CEC report provides important context for their recommendations. It points out that the purposes of The Manitoba Hydro Act include providing “for the continuance of a supply of power adequate for the needs of the province.” In keeping with domestic GHG reduction obligations and plans, it would seem that Manitoba Hydro is obligated to evaluate the provincial supply of power in the context of the amount of power needed to adequately supply future domestic electrification.
We recommend the inclusion of these CEC conditions by the NEB. We believe that the NEB should extend these conditions to include the development of a monitoring plan to verify and monitor all GHG reduction claims over a period of at least 10 years.
One of the stated justifications for the Project is to reduce GHG emissions from coal-fired plants in Minnesota.
It is inconceivable that there is no consideration of the potential GHG reductions that would be achieved in Manitoba and other parts of Canada by powering domestic electrification instead of exporting power.
Based on this consideration we recommend that long-term export contracts outside Canada via MMTP be restricted to ensure adequate electricity is available for use in Manitoba and other areas of Canada.
On the Canadian Public Interest in Reducing GHG Emissions
The National Energy Board must determine
“whether or not these projects are in the ‘present or future public convenience and necessity.’ In other words, are these projects in the Canadian public interest?”
“The Canadian public interest includes all Canadians and refers to a balance of environmental, economic, and social interests that changes as society’s values and preferences evolve over time. . . Simply put, we need to answer the fundamental question: Would Canada be better or worse off if a particular project were to go ahead?”
Therefore, it seems that information about the environmental, economic, and social impacts of differing courses of action regarding GHG emissions, including if the Project should be built and operating conditions for the Project, should be crucial considerations for the NEB.
The Board should impose Certificate Conditions concerning export contracts to include the flexibility to reduce exported power to provide for domestic electrification over time.
Photo by Ken Harasym
The final stage is the Oral Cross Examination and Final Argument. Intervenors and the Applicant can choose to cross examine other participants in the hearing. Following the period for cross examination, Intervenors and the Applicant can present an oral final argument or submit a written final argument. The Chapter is submitting a written final argument.
The hearings take place June 18-21, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and anyone can attend. The environment and rules are very similar to a courtroom. While it can be interesting to observe in person, it is a very formal atmosphere. We ask all our supporters to respect the hearing protocol and remember that the hearing is an important time for Intervenors to address concerns and ask questions.
You can find detailed information about public access to NEB hearings on the NEB website. www.neb-one.gc.ca/prtcptn/hrng/plcynpblcndmdccss-eng.html
Contributor: Mary Robinson - Council of Canadians Winnipeg Chapter Chair