Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Delay costly hydro projects, Pallister urges

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MANITOBA'S Opposition leader says new hydroelectricity projects should be delayed and built for domestic needs, not exports.

Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says a delay is needed to examine how low energy prices in the United States will affect the viability of new hydro dams in northern Manitoba.

Pallister says Manitoba Hydro, the province's Crown electricity utility, is looking at selling hydro below cost in the U.S. and raising domestic rates to compensate.

The utility plans to spend more than $20 billion over the next dozen years to build two generating stations and a new transmission line.

It has said domestic rates will rise 3.5 per cent or more each year, on average, to help fund the projects.

The NDP government has said world prices will rebound and has suggested hydro power could do for Manitoba what oil has done for Alberta. Pallister disagrees.

He believes the projects could be pushed back for several years without affecting domestic supplies.

The government is confident export sales will be a net positive in the end.

"Hydro has signed firm long-term contracts with our export customers, which will bring in $16 billion in export sales in the next 20 years alone, and $29 billion over the next 30 years," Sally Housser, press secretary to Energy Minister Dave Chomiak, wrote in an email.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 15, 2012 B4

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