Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/8/2012 (2833 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
MANITOBA'S new Progressive Conservative leader is demanding a freeze on hydro rates until there's been a "full, independent and transparent review" of the government's expansion plans for the utility.
Brian Pallister said Tuesday he is worried $18 billion in proposed capital projects will weaken Manitoba Hydro and put taxpayers' money at risk. Among those projects are two new northern hydroelectric dams and the Bipole III transmission line.
In an interview, Pallister was critical of what he termed the NDP's "political interference" in Hydro's affairs. The government's ambitious plans for the utility could raise hydro rates by 45 per cent by 2021, he said. Meanwhile, he argued the government and Hydro have yet to make a clear case for expansion.
"We need a strong Manitoba Hydro and we don't need secrecy around issues of this magnitude," said Pallister, who is seeking a seat in the legislature in the Sept. 4 byelection in Fort Whyte constituency.
The Manitoba Public Utilities Board is expected to decide in the coming days whether to grant Manitoba Hydro a 2.5 per cent interim rate hike effective Sept. 1. Later this year, the PUB will hold hearings on a permanent Hydro rate increase.
But Pallister said no hikes are justified until the Crown corporation makes its case for expansion in a clear and transparent manner before an independent body.
Several critics fear planned megaprojects such as the Keeyask and Conawapa northern hydroelectric dams should be delayed because of uncertain electrical markets.
-- Larry Kusch