The Canadian Taxpayers Federation recent editorial regarding Manitoba Hydro’s plan got one thing right: electricity rates are reasonable. Any factual information went to the wayside after that.
Manitoba Hydro has to start planning early on how to meet growing electricity needs. Witness what is happening in other provinces when utilities and governments fail to take action — electricity isn’t reliable and rates are much higher. However, the CTF offers a simplistic argument when it states that Manitoba Hydro is using an outdated, destructive approach to building dams and that instead natural gas facilities will meet provincial electricity needs more effectively.
Manitoba Hydro is working to change its approach to dam building by working with area First Nations. Across Canada there are calls for greater First Nation involvement in resource development, and it is incumbent on all levels of government to be responsive. The province and Hydro have one such opportunity now: building the Keeyask generating station in equity partnership with Tataskweyak Cree Nation, the War Lake First Nation, the York Factory First Nation and the Fox Lake Cree Nation. It will provide training and job opportunities in northern Manitoba, and for communities where these opportunities may not otherwise exist.
We have a golden opportunity before us. U.S. utilities are making their long-term plans now as to how they will replace coal-generated power, and they have a mandate to supply renewable energy such as that provided by Manitoba Hydro. The export opportunities are great.
Natural gas facilities are not more cost effective than hydroelectric facilities. The rates for natural gas are highly variable, and consumers will suffer rate shock when gas prices go up — similar to what has been reported in Ontario.
Additionally, gas plants only last 25 years before they need to be replaced. Hydroelectric generating stations last 100 years on average. Finally, according to the Clean Environment Commission report on Keeyask, this generating station will emit in 100 years the same GHG emissions as a natural gas facility would emit in 177 days in operation.
I invite the CTF to check its facts before submitting information to the Brandon Sun.
Lynne Fernandez, economist
Canadian Centre for
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 16, 2014