Brian Pallister’s recent letter asserting that Manitoba Hydro should halt the development of new generating and transmission projects is short-sighted at best. At worst, it’s a dangerous gamble that would kill jobs while risking Manitoba’s long-term economic prosperity and energy security.
Manitoba is growing and our demand for power is rising. In his letter, Mr. Pallister admits domestic demand is climbing at a pace that will require new power generation within a decade. What he fails to mention is that it takes well over a decade to plan and build a new generating station. We know this from our last project, Wuskwatim.
Cancelling our next hydro generation project now would not only leave us unable to meet our own energy needs in the coming years, it would also make it impossible to meet our export obligations. These signed contracts with customers beyond our borders are projected to generate $29 billion in export revenue over the next 30 years, which will help keep rates low for Manitoba families and businesses.
If we don’t build now, we can’t simply flip a switch when demand outstrips supply. The infrastructure must be there and that infrastructure takes time to plan and build.
But Mr. Pallister has stated he wouldn’t stop at cancelling our new hydro generating projects; he also wants to cancel the next bipole transmission line. Even if we halted all hydro development as the Opposition has clearly stated they would do, a third bipole line is critical for the reliability of our system. Continuing to rely solely on the existing lines running through the Interlake is akin to keeping all our eggs in one basket.
To back his policy of cancelling the hydro capacity we are now building, Mr. Pallister claims the extensive review process for these projects is inadequate. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each project goes through extensive reviews where all information and detail is presented in a fully transparent manner to the public. Opportunities for Manitobans to raise questions and concerns exist throughout theses reviews which take several years to complete. Changes and amendments are made to ensure the best possible results for our province, as was the case with Wuskwatim.
Similarly, we have held extensive consultations and public hearings on the route of Bipole III. We have engaged in substantial public debate, had two provincial elections, and are currently consulting landowners and other stakeholders on the final route.
Manitobans know that hydro is our oil, only cleaner and greener. Mr. Pallister says we shouldn’t develop our hydro power. That’s like telling Alberta not to develop their oil.
Manitobans have told us they want a responsible long-term approach to hydro that keeps their rates affordable, not short-sighted proposals that ignore the realities of our growing province and increasing demand for energy.
Building Hydro for today and tomorrow will ensure we can meet our own energy needs while keeping our rates among the lowest in North America through export revenues.
for Manitoba Hydro
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 12, 2013