July 2, 2014
The Manitoba Government released the Public Utilities Board Panel report on the Needs For and Alternatives To (NFAT) review of Manitoba Hydro’s Preferred Development Plan, which supports the immediate next steps of Manitoba Hydro’s plan to build for the future with the Keeyask generating station and a new transmission line to serve export customers in the United States, Municipal Government Minister Stan Struthers, minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro, said on July 2nd.
“We are pleased to be proceeding immediately with construction of Keeyask and a new transmission line to the United States, grounded in firm power sale contracts with utilities in Minnesota and Wisconsin,” said Minister Struthers. “Building now will mean we have the power to meet our own needs while keeping hydro rates for Manitoba families and businesses affordable for years to come, creating jobs, training, investment and growth opportunities throughout our province, and laying the foundation for a new generation of northern development.”
The special NFAT review panel recommended proceeding with immediate construction of Keeyask to meet domestic and export requirements with an advanced in-service date of 2019. The minister noted that Keeyask will be built within the Split Lake Resource Management Area and developed as a groundbreaking partnership between Manitoba Hydro, the Tataskweyak First Nation, the York Factory First Nation, the War Lake Cree Nation and the Fox Lake Cree Nation. Keeyask is projected to create more than 8,000 people-years of employment.
The panel also supported Manitoba Hydro’s projection that new generation will likely be required within the next 10 years and notes that “...natural gas generation does not present an acceptable alternative...” as it would be less economical, produce greater greenhouse-gas emissions than hydroelectric power and would not be acceptable to customers.
The report emphasized the importance of improving long-term demand side management (DSM) planning. Minister Struthers said the government accepts the panel’s recommendation to create a DSM entity, independent of Manitoba Hydro, and will be investigating different models in the coming months.
The minister also accepted the PUB’s recommendation regarding Conawapa and advised that pre-construction expenditures planned for Conawapa will be frozen until more export sales are confirmed and an improved business case is brought back for independent review. While Manitoba Hydro’s contract for a 308-megawatt power sale to Wisconsin Public Services is dependent on building Conawapa, more time is available and required to finalize additional power sale arrangements to strengthen the business case for more power resources, the minister added.
“We have asked Manitoba Hydro to advance its efforts on firming up additional export power sales,” said Minister Struthers. “Conawapa remains vitally important to Manitoba’s energy future and there is more time for Manitoba Hydro to secure additional contracts and come back with improved business case. In the meantime, we believe important work with Manitoba Hydro’s First Nations partners should continue including activities consistent with the Clean Environment Commission’s emphasis on the importance of attaining the highest standard of environmental stewardship and reconciliation with Aboriginal peoples.”
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