Manitoba Hydro is folding subsidiary Manitoba Hydro International back into the parent company, effective immediately.

President and CEO Jay Grewal said on Tuesday this is about realigning the crown corporation’s assets under its core principles and all of MHI’s 100 permanent employees will be brought in under the Hydro umbrella.

“By bringing them into Manitoba Hydro, one, we create greater opportunities for them in terms of all of the new work they will be undertaking under Strategy 2040 as well as there are some opportunities for synergies and efficiencies and greater alignment,” said Grewal.

MHI had four business units: MHI Utility Service, Transmission and Distribution Solutions, Power Systems Technology Centre, and Manitoba Hydro Telecom. The latter three will be maintained in some form under the crown corporation, but the international service will be wound down once its contracts have expired. Grewal said there are currently about 12 contracts that are still active and will expire over the next three to five years.

This move follows in the footsteps of other Canadian utility providers like Quebec Hydro who shut down their international consulting services more than a decade ago. She said there is a shrinking market on the international scene unless you are a major player, which MHI, despite its successes was not. The subsidiary was still making money, but their margins had shrunk considerably over the last four years.

This is also the service that least aligned with Manitoba Hydro’s core operations.

The reorganization of MHI is the second major move Hydro has made with its assets in recent months after selling off its 40% share in Teshmont on Oct. 1. Grewal said this is part of a Strategy 2040, the corporation’s long-term strategic plan.

MHI operated outside of the reach of the Public Utilities Board due to its international scope, but this will further give further oversight of their operations to the PUB. This was lauded by Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton.

“The requirement for Public Utilities Board (PUB) review is critically important for all operations of Manitoba Hydro,” he said in a press release. “This is reinforced by the former government’s mismanagement and interference in the Bipole III project, which was not subject to PUB scrutiny and unnecessarily cost Manitobans billions of dollars.”

NDP Opposition Leader Wab Kinew said Hydro stands to lose out on millions of dollars by winding down MHI operations, losses that will be passed down to ratepayers in the form of higher rates. Grewal said the impact on customers will be negligible.

“This is privatization under a different name,” said NDP Hydro critic Adrien Sala. “What we see here is government winding down an incredibly profitable aspect of Manitoba Hydro’s business and ultimately what we’re going to see is private businesses and energy consultancies swoop in, grab the remaining contracts, the highly specialized employees that have been trained and developed by Manitoba Hydro, and we’re going to see those jobs take off to Vancouver, Toronto and elsewhere.”