In Manitoba, more than 70 per cent of its hydro runs south over Bipole I and II, side-by-side transmission lines in the Interlake region. The close proximity of the two lines makes the province’s electricity supply vulnerable in the event of a weather incident or forest fire. The Bipole III line is designed to be an alternate path for electricity distribution, enhancing the reliability of Manitoba Hydro’s electrical system. The project includes construction of a 500,000-volt DC transmission line and two converter stations. The transmission line will run along the west side of Manitoba, from the Keewatinok Converter Station down to Riel Convertor station, to be located near Winnipeg. The preferred route is about 1,384 kilometres. The line and its increasing costs have sparked considerable debate throughout the province. Bipole III will also provide for additional transmission capability to accommodate new northern generating stations (such as the Keeyask Generating Station) as those plants come on line in future years.
Construction began in 2013 with civil site preparation for the Keewatinok station, construction power, clearing of northern components of transmission lines, and installation of foundations, as well as continued development of the Keewatinok Camp. Construction power was put into service in July 2014, and the contract to design, supply, and install equipment and buildings for the two convertor stations was signed in October 2014.
In 2017, work began on the mechanical installation process at the Riel Converter Station. The Bipole III project requires synchronous condensers at the Riel Converter Station in order to support the operation of the high-voltage direct current (HVDC) equipment and conversion of DC power to AC power for the southern Manitoba power grid. The line’s anticipated in-service date is 2018.