Manitoba Hydro is an integral component to the success of agriculture in the province. Farmers rely on the crown corporation for electricity and natural gas services.
KAP will continue to work with Manitoba Hydro to ensure its services meets the needs of Manitoba farmers.
KAP’s relationship with Manitoba Hydro is longstanding with the first resolution involving Manitoba Hydro passed by delegates in 1986. As modern agriculture evolves and expands in size so to will demand for Manitoba Hydro services.
Manitoba Hydro has provided KAP with a number of responses to questions frequently asked by farmers.
What is the process for getting a Farm Equipment Move Clearance Permit and how often are permits required?
A Farm Equipment Move Clearance Permit is required from Manitoba Hydro if farmers are moving equipment over 4.8 metres in height. Application forms are available online , or by calling 1-888-624-9376. When applying for the annual permit the farmer must provide a description of the equipment including type, height and width, as well as a planned route. The route can be identified on a municipal landowner map with road and highway numbers clearly marked, as well as field access points. Manitoba Hydro will review the route, provide suggestions for an alternate route if necessary, and confirm if the route is safe and allows for adequate clearance. We may measure and upgrade the height of the line to meet minimum standards. The Farm Equipment Move Clearance permit expires on December 31st each year and must be applied for annually.
If a farmer has multiple pieces of equipment that are over height is there a requirement to apply for multiple Farm Equipment Move Clearance permits?
A permit is required for every piece of equipment that is over 4.8 metres in height even though it may be using the same route.
The published standard that Manitoba Hydro builds to is a 4.8 metre minimum conductor height over roadways. We endeavour to have much more than that where possible, but to ensure customer safety, an approved route is required for all equipment over 4.8 metres in height.
Under what circumstances should a farmer request a line lift and how should they go about getting one?
Farmers requesting a line lift would complete a Structure Move Clearance Permit application
It may take up to ten days to plan and schedule based on resources required. Manitoba Hydro’s Farm Equipment Move Clearance permit is the preferred method for moving farm machinery. Farmers can apply for both permits on-line or by visiting one of our CSC offices for assistance.
- Plan your route carefully before moving oversized equipment. Avoid low hanging power lines by taking another route.
- Know the height of your equipment to ensure adequate clearance; share this information with everyone who works on the farm.
- Check the height of new equipment before you take it home – remember air seeders and cultivators can be taller during transport than when in use.
- Never transport metal elevators, metal irrigation pipes or metal ladders near power lines.
Physically encroaching within 3 meters of overhead electrical system(s) is prohibited by Part 25 of the Manitoba WS&H Act MR 217. Only those authorized and/or trained by Manitoba Hydro can be granted permission to come into close proximity or actual physical contact with our plant. When this occurs, Manitoba Hydro either provides safety watches on site to oversee, reroutes the system to ensure the work is carried out safely or de-energizes the system entirely. In recognition of this need, Manitoba Hydro provides the Farm Equipment Clearance Permit at no cost to the farmer to allow Manitoba Hydro to evaluate the requirements and provide instructions on the safe route for the equipment to travel.
Manitoba Hydro is part of the ClickBeforeYouDigMB.com service provided by the Manitoba Common Ground Alliance. A landowner can request natural gas and electrical line locates, along with many other utility locates, with one online request or phone call.
ClickBeforeYouDigMB.com is free, simple to use and available 24/7. Once an online request is submitted and the locate is scheduled, Manitoba Hydro will mark the utility-owned underground natural gas and electrical lines free of charge. You must send a locate request to ClickBeforeYouDigMB.com at least three full working days before you intend to begin any project that involves excavation or disturbing the ground deeper that 15 cm. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can call ClickBeforeYouDigMB at 1-800-940-3447.
Farmers may apply for electrical or natural gas service by completing an on-line form.
Once the completed form has been submitted, the farmer will be contacted by a Manitoba Hydro representative. The process to extend gas service to rural customers can take several months.
A Grain Dryer Guide was developed by representatives from the Office of the Fire Commissioner, Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development, Manitoba Hydro and propane suppliers. The guide can assist farmers with the installation and operation of grain dryers.
Good working relationships between Manitoba Hydro, property owners and tenants along a right-of-way are essential to the safety and reliability of our electrical transmission and pipeline system. For example, on the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project, a robust landowner engagement process was in place. A Manitoba Hydro staff member was assigned to each landowner to liaise with land agents and surveyors regarding easements and work scheduling. In an emergency, the Manitoba Hydro Act allows crews unimpeded access to all land when maintenance, repair or replacement of electrical plant is required. In such cases, landowners would not be contacted.
What protocol has Manitoba Hydro undertaken to ensure it is following farmland biosecurity protocols?
We engage with producers to understand their specific needs and align our existing protocols accordingly. Listed are a few examples:
- On the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project (MMTP), our liaisons worked within farm-level biosecurity protocols to help with construction preparations.
- On the Bipole III project, a producer requested we use a specific disinfectant when working on their land to align with their protocols.
- A producer required urgent natural gas work done on their property while it was under quarantine. Manitoba Hydro coordinated the work with the producer and Manitoba Agriculture to ensure all biosecurity needs were met to carry out the work required.
Manitoba Hydro will continue to maintain the right-of-ways under distribution lines with the frequency based upon the vegetation growth. As part of this maintenance program, cut and trimmed vegetation will typically be mulched and/or chipped and left on site.
The Municipal Authority is responsible to maintain a road allowance that has vegetation that may make contact with distribution powerlines. Manitoba Hydro will provide safety clearances through temporary disconnects or removal of overhead distribution lines or service conductors at no cost to the Municipal Authority. In some situations, Manitoba Hydro may elect to trim the trees back to a safe distance to then allow for removal. Clearances are scheduled at the corresponding Customer Service Centre upon request by the Municipal Authority.
Who is responsible for damage to Manitoba Hydro infrastructure? This can include poles, power lines, and natural gas lines.
Generally, the individual who causes the damage is responsible for replacement costs or repairs to Manitoba Hydro infrastructure. However, if they received prior approval to dig using our ClickBeforeYouDigMB.com program, or had an agricultural equipment move permit, they would not be responsible for contacting underground electrical or natural gas lines or overhead lines if they were working in the areas identified on the approved permits. The Workplace Safety & Health Act as well as Manitoba Regulations clearly defines who as employers is responsible based on the actions that may occur.
Has Manitoba Hydro considered adding a fire-retardant coating around their poles since some farmers in the province occasionally burn their fields?
Manitoba Hydro operates a Fireshield Program where an extra level of protection on poles is provided in high burn areas where poles are most at risk from successive years of grass fires. MB Hydro staff complete a business case analysis on areas where we see the greatest loss to infrastructure due to grass fires and implement the Fireshield protective measures.
Manitoba Hydro Service
What is Manitoba Hydro doing to ensure the services provided to rural communities are current and meet the needs of modern agriculture?
Manitoba Hydro continues to support rural communities through building partnerships with key stakeholder groups like KAP, as well as helping better educate and inform the new farmer of tomorrow. Engaging customers and adapting our services and programs to better meet their needs is and will continue to be a focus for continuous improvement. Manitoba Hydro is also working on leveraging technology and information to improve safety for farming activities by collaborating with industry, to try to better understand and share information that can help prevent accidents (GPS technology).
Go Underground Program
Manitoba Hydro provides compensation under the Go Underground Program for a portion of the cost to bury the primary line in your farmyard. Manitoba Hydro provides 50% of the installation costs up to a maximum of $10,000 to bury the existing primary line. This compensation rate typically covers 40-50% of the average installation cost.
It is not practical or financially responsible to bury underground conductors at all road crossings. The cost to bury conductors is approximately three times greater than overhead conductors and underground equipment has a much shorter life span of approximately 25 years compared to poles at 70 years. Repairs to underground equipment is also more expensive to that of overhead equipment. As our expenses/costs are reflected in the rates Manitoba Hydro charges for electricity, the additional cost for underground would have to be passed along to all the Manitoban ratepayers.
The primary line is the high voltage line that feeds the transformer into the yard site. All lines in a farmyard past the transformer pole feeding the buildings in that yard are defined as secondary lines. The voltage level determines the naming convention. Any powerline below 750 volts is secondary, any powerline above 750 volts is primary. Most of Manitoba Hydro’s Primary powerlines that feed farms are either 12,000 volts (12 kV) or 25,000 volts (25kV). The primary lines and transformers are owned and maintained by Manitoba Hydro for the life of the asset. Under the Go Underground Program Manitoba Hydro will convert up to 2 spans of overhead primary powerline that is on private property feeding a farmyard. In older farmyards, secondary lines past the transformer and the meter is owned by the property owner and would not be eligible under the ‘Go Underground Program’.
Overhead Powerline Contact
Over the past 4 years (2017 – 2020) Manitoba Hydro attended 659 damages involving Manitoba’s farming industry. 2020 saw an alarming 57% increase compared to 2019, a trend that was actually on the decline. Cultivators and seeders accounted for 56% of 2020’s known farm equipment type involved with 45% of those damages occurring in the fields, a 21% increase compared to 2019.
So far in 2021 (August) we’ve seen a 19% decrease compared to 2020; still 22% higher than 2019, with cultivators and seeders accounting for almost half of the incidents which most are preventable.
If farm equipment contacts an overhead power line, farmers should not get off the machinery unless in immediate danger. Farmers touching the ground and the machine/equipment at the same time makes a path for the electricity to travel to the ground. If farmers are required to leave their machinery, it is recommended to jump clear and land with feet together and arms close to the body. Farmers should keep feet touching each other and shuffle 10 metres away from the machinery or the fallen wire. Farmers should not go back for any reason and should never get back on the machinery that is touching the power line until Manitoba Hydro has safely disconnected and de-energized the line.
Farmers and farm workers should be familiar with the location of all overhead power lines in the area they are working. Knowing the height and width of the equipment and planning a safe route to transport the equipment can also prevent contact with hydro plant. Farmers should move equipment slowly and carefully, maintaining a safe distance of three metres from the power line.
Who can farmers contact if they are experiencing disruptions, or have general inquiries about their Manitoba Hydro services?
Arborg ‐ 389 Main St. Portage La Prairie ‐ 50‐14th St. NE
Ashern ‐ 34‐1st St. Russell ‐ Hwy. 45 E.
Brandon – 2505 Victoria Ave. E. Selkirk ‐ 805 Greenwood Ave
Dauphin ‐ 480 Whitmore Ave Steinbach ‐ 175 North Front Dr.
Killarney ‐ 993 Railway St. Swan River ‐ 105 Valley Rd.
Lac du Bonnet ‐ 120 Minnewawa St. The Pas ‐ 420-3rd St.
Morden ‐ South side of Hwy. 3 Thompson ‐ Hwy. 6 Rd. 1.
Neepawa ‐ 500 Main St. E. Virden ‐ 100 Airport Rd.
Customers can make bill payments and service inquiries online. Click here for more information about on-line services and bill payment options.
For service disruptions, customers can submit an outage report. A mobile-friendly outage map is updated every 15 minutes with data from Manitoba’s Outage Management System. Information includes planned and unplanned outages, and the number of customers affected.
More detailed information such as the cause of an outage and estimated time of restoration is available on Manitoba Hydro’s Twitter profile.