Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Value of Manitoba Hydro’s forecasts is in the numbers

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Garland Laliberte unjustifiably dismisses the 5,000 pages of evidence and analysis filed in support of Hydro’s development plan as "projections based on assumptions."

To support his view (The worth of paper written on, Jan. 4) that Hydro’s load-growth forecasts are "exaggerated," Laliberte selectively compares load growth over the past 10 years with load growth forecast for the next 20 years. He fails to mention the past decade saw a serious economic downturn and loss of a major customer. A more careful comparison of our load forecast shows that growth forecast for the next 20 years (1.5 per cent annually) is actually less than the rate of growth experienced over the past 20 years (1.6 per cent annually).

Laliberte also challenges the forecast population growth that helps drive demand for electricity. True, there is no guarantee Manitoba’s population will continue to grow at rates experienced in recent years, but understand, Hydro’s population forecast is derived from a consensus of a number of independent forecasts.

On the basis of a single U.S. media report, Laliberte concludes our forecast annual increase in per capita residential use is "unsupportable." The trend of declining home residential-electricity use has been considered in our forecasts. Manitoba consumers are turning to energy-efficient housing and appliances, in large part, due to our Power Smart conservation initiatives.

There are, however, big differences at play in Manitoba resulting in load growth. In Manitoba, 36 per cent of dwellings heat with electricity, and that number is growing. Outside Winnipeg, a high proportion of new homes are being constructed with electric furnaces. Each of these homes uses 2.5 times as much electricity as a natural gas-heated home. In addition, 49 per cent of dwellings in Manitoba use electricity to heat water. Most new homes have electric water heaters and some existing dwellings are changing from natural gas to electricity, causing a 30 per cent increase in use of electricity. Together, the increase in electricity use will drive average household use up 0.3 per cent annually. This increase in electricity consumption is occurring even though Hydro promotes natural gas use where it is available.

Manitoba Hydro’s development plan is the best alternative for meeting our province’s growing energy needs. Readers are invited to visit hydro. mb.ca/development and review our plan for themselves.

 

Scott Thomson is the president of Manitoba Hydro.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 23, 2014 A11

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