THE Manitoba government has confirmed it is handing rate-setting authority for Manitoba Hydro back to the Public Utilities Board and a planned Dec. 1 hike of 2.5 per cent has been scrubbed.

Bill 35 — which would have had cabinet setting hydro rates for the next two years until Hydro could prepare a five-year general rate application — is one of five bills the Progressive Conservative government plans to withdraw when the legislative session resumes Oct. 6.

A Dec. 1 hydro rate hike of 2.5 per cent, announced by Finance Minister Scott Fielding in July, was expected to be added to the government’s budget implementation bill this fall but it will not be included, Premier Kelvin Goertzen said Thursday.

Instead, Manitoba Hydro has been asked to make an interim rate application to the PUB. Starting in 2022, Hydro will make such rate applications every three years, Goertzen said.

Bill 35 (Public Utilities Ratepayer Protection and Regulatory Reform Act) was one of five contentious pieces of legislation introduced this session that was delayed by the NDP in hopes of garnering public pressure against it.

On Thursday, the New Democrats took a victory lap.

"Today’s a big victory for Manitobans because, once again, we can have confidence that rates will be set by an independent process managed by the Public Utilities Board," NDP critic for Manitoba Hydro Adrien Sala told reporters.