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Coalition calls for 'slow down' of Hydro's dam plans

Posted: 02/3/2014 11:06 AM | Comments: 0

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Artist's rendering of the proposed Keeyask generating station.

MANITOBA HYDRO / SUPPLIED PHOTO Enlarge Image

Artist's rendering of the proposed Keeyask generating station.

The Bipole III Coalition filed its submission today with Manitoba’s Public Utilities Board calling for a "slow down" of Manitoba Hydro’s plan to build two new generating stations.

The coalition says the plan to build Keeyask and Conawapa will cost $34 billion.

The PUB’s review of Hydro’s plan is to begin is to begin March 3. The Needs For and Alternatives To (NFAT) hearing is scheduled to end May 3. The PUB is to issue its report to the Manitoba government by June 20.

The coalition says Hydro’s growth forecast, the basis of its expansion plan, is overstated and does not reflect Manitoba's future demand for electricity.

"Using Hydro’s own records, the coalition's submission demonstrates that Hydro's load forecast does not properly reflect the flattening of load growth in Manitoba over the past eight years," the group says in a news release. "It is also out of line with forecasts of modest load growth in the U.S. including the northern regions into which Hydro exports electrical energy."

The Crown power utility says it needs to build the Keeyask and Conawapa generating stations in the next decade not only to meet the province's energy needs, but to meet demands south of the border and to the east and west.

The Selinger government has said domestic demand is forecast to rise 80 megawatts a year.

Hydro's plan calls for the start of construction of the 695-megawatt Keeyask generating station in June 2014, with the first turbine to start spinning by 2019. That’s to be followed by construction of the 1,485-megawatt Conawapa generating station, with a 2026 in-service date.

The forecasted price tag for Keeyask is $6.2 billion and Conawapa is estimated to cost $10.2 billion. There will be an additional cost of running a transmission line to the Minnesota border.

The coalition says it proposes a more reasonable load forecast which better reflects current energy trends in Manitoba and the northern regions of the U.S.

"With the more defensible forecast, the coalition demonstrates that the in-service date for the next generation plant could be delayed until at least seven years," it says.

Hydro and the NDP argue export sales will rebound when natural gas prices rise and more coal-fired power plants in the U.S. either close or switch to natural gas.

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