Hearings on the 200MW dam’s environmental impact started in March 2004 in Winnipeg. The utility says the dam, to be built on the Burntwood river 45km south west of Thompson, northern Manitoba, would supply local demand as well as allow Manitoba Hydro to export power to neighbouring Ontario and the US.

The utility has already signed a tentative agreement with the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation of Nelson House to garner their support for the project. However some native groups have accused some northern Manitoba aboriginal leaders of neglecting the rights of their own citizens in agreeing to the project.

Manitoba’s Clean Environment Commission will hear from 12 other aboriginal groups, as well as several consumer and environmental leaders. It will then advise the provincial government on whether to go ahead with the project. If approved, the project could start producing hydroelectricity by 2010. The Wuskwatim Generating station project would also require development of transmission facilities.

Another hydroelectric option currently being considered for development is the proposed Gull station located on the Nelson river, about 30km west of Gillam. The Gull station would produce about 600MW. The earliest possible in service date for the project is expected to be 2011/2012.

The utility is also drawing plans to develop the 100MW Notigi generating station at the junction of the Rat and Burntwood rivers.