Since 1961, Manitoba Hydro has been a Crown Corporation, with the mandate to fulfill the electricity and natural gas needs of the province’s residents and businesses. It is the sole provider of electricity in Manitoba, and is the regulated provider of natural gas. Manitoba Hydro does not set its own rates. Rather, rates are regulated by the Public Utilities Board of Manitoba (PUB). PUB adjusts electricity rates once a year, every August, while natural gas rates are adjusted on a quarterly schedule, in February, May, August, and November.
The History of Manitoba Hydro
Through the end of the 19th century, much of Manitoba was without electrical service. While larger cities such as Winnipeg and Brandon had already taken steps towards installing electric street lighting and even home electrical service, it was not commercially feasible to provide electricity to those who lived in more rural areas.
To remedy this issue, the government of Manitoba founded the Manitoba Power Commission (MPC), tasking it with the responsibility of bringing electricity to the entirety of the province’s residents. The MPC set to work expanding the province’s electrical grid, while a number of other utilities built hydroelectric plants on the Winnipeg River. After a long lull in activity between the start of the Great Depression through the end of World War II, the MPC set to work again.
In 1949, the Manitoba Hydro Electric Board (MHEB) was established to help assist with bringing electricity to Manitoba’s most rural residents, a task that wasn’t largely completed until 1956. In 1961, the MPC and MHEB were merged to form Manitoba Hydro. Subsequently, Manitoba Hydro began to rapidly acquire commercial and municipal electric production and transmission facilities throughout the province. Eventually, Manitoba Hydro became the province’s regulated provider of natural gas services, and in 1999, it purchased Centra Gas Manitoba, a natural gas distribution company.
In September of 2002, Manitoba Hydro’s consolidation of the province’s electricity services was completed with the purchase of Winnipeg Hydro, the last municipal electric utility in operation in Manitoba. Manitoba Hydro is now the sole regulated transporter and distributor of natural gas and electricity in Manitoba. However, provincial regulations do allow several commercial firms to offer retail natural gas services, as an alternative to Manitoba Hydro’s regulated rates.