Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hydro dam deal gets makeover

Northern Cree to vote on amended agreement

  • Print
The Wuskwatim station on the Burntwood River in northern Manitoba.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

The Wuskwatim station on the Burntwood River in northern Manitoba. Photo Store

Manitoba Hydro and a northern Cree community have again gone back to the drawing board to rewrite the agreement that would finalize the band's 33 per cent ownership of the Wuskwatim generating station.

It's called Supplement 2 of the project development agreement and it will be discussed tonight in Winnipeg at a special meeting for Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) members living in the city.

On the table is a proposal to move about $40 million from two NCN trust funds to secure the First Nation's one-third stake in the 200-megawatt dam on the Burntwood River west of Thompson. One trust was set up in 1996 as part of the Northern Flood Agreement and the second in 2006 as part of the Wuskwatim development agreement. The trust funds would be used in place of third-party loans.

Manitoba Hydro says it and NCN also recently renegotiated their co-ownership deal so NCN sees a consistent benefit during the life of the project.

"The supplement is intended to provide enhanced benefits and smooth out those cash flows over time," Hydro spokesman Scott Powell said. "It's simply just a reflection of the changing economics compared to the original agreement. It was always intended to make sure the community was better off with the project than without it."

The band has spent about $110 million on the project, most of it borrowed from Hydro.

Hydro has already renegotiated its 2006 profit-sharing deal with NCN so the First Nation did not have to contribute to Hydro's overall losses and still be in a position to repay its loan and see some revenue. Under the old agreement, NCN would have had to contribute $14 million in 2012 and $24 million in 2013-14.

The losses and NCN's increased stake are due to the timing of Wuswatim's construction -- it went into operation in late 2012 -- and the onset of the U.S. recession in 2009. The dam cost $1.4 billion to build, almost twice its 2004 estimate of $800 million, and the recession chopped what were to be big profits from selling surplus power to the United States.

Power generated from Wuskwatim was costing 7.2 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to produce while the average export sale price of electricity was 3.9 cents per kWh. However, Hydro says domestic demand for power is increasing by 80 megawatts per year, which means Manitoba will be able to absorb Wuskwatim's production. Export sales also recovered in the past year due to last winter's colder weather.

Powell said the agreement includes a formula in which the band will see "blended" revenue -- revenue not just from export power sales but domestic sales, too.

Acting NCN Chief Marcel Moody was unavailable, but band briefing material recommends community members approve the trust amendments. A vote is to be held before the end of June.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 29, 2014 A4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Jets defencemen ready to face adversity

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Horses enjoy a beautiful September morning east of Neepawa, Manitoba  - Standup Photo– Sept 04, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • July 1, 2012 - 120701  -   Canada Day fireworks at The Forks from the Norwood Bridge Sunday, July 1, 2012.    John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the provincial NDP’s approval rating could drop below the current 26 per cent?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google