Manitoba Hydro is reasserting authority over its arm’s length technical services subsidiary and terminating international consulting activities as contracts expire. The newly announced dismantling of Manitoba Hydro International Inc. (MHI) will shift domestic elements of its engineering, utility management, high voltage and telecommunication business units back into Manitoba Hydro’s fold and cede the global marketplace to other competitors.
MHI currently manages projects in more than 60 countries on all continents except Antarctica, and is the developer and proprietor of software applications and other transmission management products that have been sold to power utilities worldwide. The decision to shut down the 23-year-old company follows a recent review to assess its alignment with Manitoba Hydro’s strategic priority “to enhance the focus on the utility’s core business of delivering clean, affordable and reliable energy to Manitobans” and address concerns about lack of oversight from the provincial Public Utilities Board.
“Prior to this review, our government was unaware of the risks taken with the operation of Manitoba Hydro International. As a major public asset, we want to ensure the activities undertaken by Manitoba Hydro are in the best interest of its owners — Manitobans,” says Jeff Wharton, Minister of Crown Services.
The review concluded that MHI’s international operations potentially exposed Manitoba Hydro customers to liabilities for employees’ security and other financial risks. It also critiqued the use of Manitoba Hydro assets to pursue business in a highly competitive international consulting market that other Canadian utilities have already deemed unviable. Permanent MHI staff will be offered positions with Manitoba Hydro.
“Offering MHI’s highly skilled employees a chance to join Manitoba Hydro’s team provides a tremendous opportunity to contribute to the value of Manitoba Hydro,” affirms Jay Grewal, Manitoba Hydro’s president and chief executive officer. “Today’s announcement brings an even greater focus to our core business while retaining access to and continuing to market the world-class made-in-Manitoba technology offered by MHI.”