Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Manitoba Hydro, Saskatchewan ink $100-M deal

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THE single-largest hydro deal between Manitoba and Saskatchewan involves enough additional electricity from Manitoba Hydro's generating stations to power 10,000 homes in the Land of Living Skies.

Manitoba Municipal Government Minister Stan Struthers announced Monday the deal is worth $100 million during the next eight years.

It will see Hydro transmit an additional 25 megawatts of electricity to the Saskatchewan grid in addition to the 36 megawatts Hydro already exports.

"This $100 million will help keep Manitoba rates low," Premier Greg Selinger said.

"It will be profitable for Manitoba Hydro overall. Hydro wouldn't do it if they didn't think it would be profitable."

Selinger said both provinces signed a memorandum of understanding on a 500-megawatt purchase after 2020, the target date for the new 695-megawatt Keeyask generating station to be fully operational. If the deal proceeds, an additional transmission line must be built.

Saskatchewan's minister responsible for SaskPower, Bill Boyd, said in a statement his province needs the hydro power to meet rising demand, expected to increase by about 2.9 per cent a year.

"Demand for electricity has been increasing at more than twice the historical average," Boyd said.

SaskPower says on its website that, to meet that demand, it's adding approximately 1,300 MW to its system by 2017, including more wind farms. The majority of its power currently comes from coal and natural gas plants.

Conservative Leader Brian Pallister said the deal highlights two issues the NDP doesn't mention -- Saskatchewan's economy is pulling ahead of Manitoba's and much of Manitoba Hydro's development plan remains clouded in secrecy.

The Clean Environment Commission and Public Utilities Board are both involved in separate examinations of the Keeyask project, but under strict terms set out by the Selinger government.

"We want a process that's fair, open, transparent and looks at all the facts," Pallister said.

"What we have from this government is none of these things. What we have is an attempt to evaluate an overall $20-billion-plus project in the dark. That's my problem with this."

Selinger said the new power sale to Saskatchewan is the culmination of about four years of discussions and is worth every penny.

"A $100 million (deal) makes a big difference to the bottom line of Manitoba," he said, adding the deal allows Saskatchewan to purchase additional power when that province needs it and if it's available.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 19, 2013 A3

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