Energy Manitoba

Conawapa Generating Station

2009 Conawapa Update

Hydro has made no final development, design or construction decisions on Conawapa Generating Station, slated to become the largest hydro-electric project ever built in northern Manitoba. No agreements have been reached with local communities but environmental field studies and monitoring were ongoing at the Conawapa site during the summer of 2008 and public, engineering and environmental consultation activities are underway. The station's earliest in-service date would be 2022 under the current schedule.

Manitoba Hydro has begun the formal planning process with Fox Lake Cree Nation, York Factory First Nation, Tataskweyak Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation and Shamattawa First Nation. The Conawapa Working Group held a two-day Conawapa Hydraulic Impacts Workshop with Fox Lake Cree Nation on September 5-6, 2009 to review affected areas and proposed water levels.

In April 2008 Manitoba Hydro signed a formal term sheet with Wisconsin Public Service to provide up to 500 MW of hydro power over 15 years, starting in 2018. The sale ensures a need for new hydroelectric facilities in northern Manitoba and a new transmission line running into the United States.

View Conawapa Generating Station website
View August 18, 2009, FLCN Conawapa Hydraulic Impacts Workshop 2009
View June 24, 2009, FLCN Environmental Department Update June 18, 2009
Download Manitoba Hydro - Planning For Power (PDF)
Visit Cree Nation Partners website

Cree Lands Claim Before Conawapa

Since 1947, Fox Lake has been requesting reserve land in the Gillam area. Inaction from the federal government allowed Manitoba Hydro Electric Board to claim all lands in and around Gilliam for Nelson River Power Development, near the Conawpa site.

Fox Lake Cree Nation Logo Without reserve land Fox Lake was unable to participate in the Northern Flood Agreement in which Manitoba Hydro and the provincial and federal governments agreed to compensate five other Manitoba First Nations impacted by Hydro development.

On the Fox Lake Cree Nation website, Chief Neepin said "a Gilliam Reserve would have given our community some much needed cohesion and legitimacy during the troubled decades of Hydro development."

Manitoba Hydro is actively seeking new export opportunities of hydro electricity to neighbouring provinces and States. The Conawapa dam is considered key to Manitoba's economic future with preliminary design and fieldwork already well underway.

View May 16, 2008 Fox Lake Cree Nation response
View May 7, 2008 Fox Lake Cree Nation news release
View May 27, 2008 Manitoba Wildlands News Item
Sources: Winnipeg Free Press, Fox Lake Cree Nation, Turtle Island

Download 2005 War Lake First Nation Past Adverse Effects Agreement (PDF)

Conawapa Overview

Conawapa generation station, on the Nelson River, was shelved in 1992 following Ontario's decision to cancel a 1,000-megawatt energy contract with Manitoba Hydro. However, the November 2006 Speech from the Throne leaves little doubt regarding the Manitoba Government's intention to revive the project.

Today we are proud to announce that we will build the Conawapa dam. Energy projections for export and domestic markets indicate the time is right for Manitoba Hydro to move forward with another major generating station... Once in operation, Conawapa will generate 1,250 megawatts of electricity.

Prior to the November 2006 statements, news reports were referring to high level discussions between senior government officials in Manitoba and Ontario regarding Manitoba Hydro projects and current and future energy shortages for southern Ontario. It has been estimated that the cost of realizing Conawapa would be $5 billion (+ / -) plus transmission line costs.

In addition, during Clean Environment Commission licensing hearings for the Wuskwatim projects in 2004, Manitoba Hydro indicated the required notice under the Northern Flood Agreement regarding intent to start planning for Conawapa had been given to the five signatory First Nations (Split Lake, Nelson House, York Factory, Norway House and Cross Lake). Split Lake First Nation (Tataskweyak Cree Nation) received notification from Manitoba Hydro dated January 6, 2004. Mr. Ed Wojczynski, Division Manager of Power Planning and Development for Manitoba Hydro stated on Day Two of the Wuskwatim hearings (March 2, 2004) the decision to restart Conawapa had been made in the previous couple of months.

Manitoba Hydro and Tataskweyak Cree Nation (TCN) continue to state that a decision to proceed with an environmental impact assessment for Conawapa is not a decision to go ahead with the project. The final decision will be made following the regulatory approvals process.

Download the January 6, 2004 letter of notification (DOC)

Visit Manitoba Hydro's New Generation and Transmission Projects web page

Manitoba Hydro Billboard Summer 2004 Development of Conawapa and export of power to Ontario would require more transmission capacity. This would probably necessitate construction of a Manitoba-Ontario power grid (i.e. part of the proposed east-west power grid). Three options are being discussed to facilitate power transmission. Transmission could travel south on the east side of Lake Winnipeg and east to Kenora. Another option is a transmission line from northern Manitoba to northern Ontario and then to Sault Ste. Marie or Thunder Bay. The third option would involve lines crossing into Ontario, south of the dam and into southern Ontario.

No public steps have been taken concerning an upgraded Manitoba-Ontario power grid since October 2005.

View East-West Power Grid & Hydro MOU
Visit Manitoba Wildlands' Hydro Research page and the document Hydropower Transmission in Manitoba for detailed information regarding future transmission options.
View Manitoba Wildlands Hydro Map Gallery