Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Billions for new dams 'power dumb,' Pallister says

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MANITOBA'S Progressive Conservative leader turned a well-known power conservation program's name on its head Wednesday to slam a $700,000 Manitoba Hydro advertising campaign.

Brian Pallister said the "NDP-induced" TV ads that have aired since Monday promoting the construction of new northern power dams and new electricity transmission capability are "Power Dumb."

"This is a $20-billion gamble and the government is saying we should go all-in," Pallister told a news conference.

The TV ads tout the need for a new dam-construction effort comparable with what was built in the 1960s and 1970s. The two projects on the horizon are the 695-megawatt Keeyask Generating Station and the 1,485-megawatt Conawapa Generating Station, both on the Nelson River.

Pallister accused the government of rushing such developments for political purposes at a time of soft energy export prices and heightened competition from wind- and gas-powered electricity south of the border.

"This particular ad campaign is Power Dumb," he said, a play on the Hydro 'power smart' advertisements promoting energy conservation.

Glenn Schneider, a Hydro spokesman, defended the ads -- and the Crown corporation's expansion plans. He countered suggestions the construction plans are being rammed through without due public consultation and review.

Manitoba will need some form of new power generation by 2022, Schneider said.

"That's not that far off if we're actually going to be building a major generating station like we're talking about doing at Keeyask," he said.

There is a long regulatory review process and a five-to-seven-year construction period for such a dam. Environmental hearings will begin for Keeyask this fall.

The province has promised an economic review. A Public Utilities Board sub-panel will hold public hearings.

Hydro believes the ad campaign is necessary to explain the company's reasoning behind the capital projects.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 4, 2013 A8

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