Manitoba Hydro

Manitoba Hydro provides electricity and gas services to communities throughout the province of Manitoba. Reporting to general counsel and corporate secretary Ken Tennenhouse, assistant general counsel and corporate secretary Patti Ramage runs the day-to-day affairs of the company’s in-house legal department, made up of 16 lawyers, five support staff and an access and privacy coordinator. Each of the lawyers in the team has specific areas of speciality, and many have more than one. Several of the lawyers are involved in regulatory work, as Manitoba Hydro is a Crown Corporation with significant regulatory oversight from the Public Utilities Board of Manitoba with respect to electric and gas operations. Manitoba Hydro has been going through a construction phase, building a number of new key facilities such as a new generating station in Northern Manitoba, a major transmission line from the North to the Southern region, and a second major international power line to facilitate the export and import of power to and from the Northern US region, the approvals for which have required hearing before the Public Utilities Board of Manitoba, the National Energy Board and lengthy environmental hearings before the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission. These major projects have also involved considerable contractual, procurement and property work undertaken by the legal services division. These projects, and Manitoba Hydro’s day-to-day operations, have also impacted indigenous people for decades and, as such, the legal division is involved in indigenous relations work on a daily basis, including negotiating with the dozens of First Nations communities and indigenous groups in Manitoba. Manitoba Hydro is a market participant in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Southwest Power Pool and the Independent System Operator of Ontario energy markets, and is also subject to the North American Reliability Corporation standards. Several lawyers are involved in bilateral negotiations for the purchase and sale of electricity, and handle compliance and enforcement issues related to various inter-connections. As Manitoba Hydro is the second largest landowner in Manitoba, the legal services division represents the corporation in a considerable number of transactions stemming from the ownership, acquisition, sale and leasing of property throughout the province, and supports the works of the Water Storage land management program. Stemming from this, and its operations generally, are litigation matters which are also primarily handled in-house. With four bargaining units, each with separate collective agreements, the legal services division is also involved in providing advice on human resource matters and human rights issues, in filing responses to grievances, lawsuits, and complaints before the Human Rights Commission and Manitoba Labour Board, and appearing at arbitrations and related hearings. It is also involved in collective bargaining and strike contingency planning. As an agent of the Crown, Manitoba Hydro is subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and responds to a significant number of requests for access to information on a wide variety of topics. Tennenhouse identifies that, ‘the legal services division is an incredible team of capable individuals that has successfully navigated workforce reductions, extensive and overlapping regulatory hearings, and significant changes in leadership at the executive and board of directors levels which provide strategic direction for most, if not all, of its work’.