Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hydro, U.S. company make deal

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Manitoba Hydro and Minnesota's Great River Energy have signed a deal calling for both to look at the American utility buying up to 600 megawatts of electricity from new dams on the Nelson River starting in about 2020.

The deal was announced Friday by Manitoba Hydro and adds another major customer who wants to buy power from the province as demand increases south of the border and more effort is put into retiring carbon-belching coal plants.

"We are pleased to work with a trusted partner like Great River Energy to help increase the supply of virtually carbon-free, renewable hydroelectric energy in their supply mix," Scott Thomson, president and CEO of Manitoba Hydro, said in a statement.

"Expansion of electricity trade with Great River Energy will support expansion of hydropower generating capacity in Manitoba and contribute to the ongoing supply of renewable, reliable and cost-effective electricity to Manitobans."

Manitoba Hydro and Great River Energy have signed a number of power-sale and diversity agreements over the last several decades, including a 200-megawatt agreement that runs until 2030.

News of the memorandum of understanding comes on the eve of the March 3 start date of a two-month review into whether Hydro's plan to build both the Keeyask and Conawapa generating stations is too expensive for the province at a time when it could be economically wiser to build a plant that burns natural gas to produce power.

Hydro hopes to begin construction on the 695-megawatt Keeyask later this year, subject to regulatory approval.

Great River Energy is a not-for-profit co-operative providing wholesale electric service to 28 distribution co-operatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin, serving approximately 655,000 member consumers or about 1.7 million people.

-- staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 22, 2014 B5

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