Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Gas-fired plant can't meet power needs

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Dear Editor,

Graham Lane continues to promote a natural-gas solution for the next generation of Manitoba's electricity supply (A sensible alternative to new dams, Dec. 11).

Perhaps the best approach would be to have Lane present his own ideas and his objections to Hydro's plans to the Public Utilities Board when they hold public hearings into the development plan early in 2014. In that public review, facts and viewpoints can be presented, challenged, debated and judgment rendered by that responsible independent body, along with its permanent advisers, eight independent expert consulting companies from across North America and five non-governmental organizations with their own experts.

In contrast to Lane's "back of the envelope" calculations of costs and benefits, Manitoba Hydro has filed over 5,000 pages of evidence and analysis that back up its development plan, with comparisons that consider a wide range of possible development plans, including all natural-gas generation, as well as combinations of gas, wind and hydro. The conclusion to this extensive analysis is that the current development plan consisting of new hydroelectric generation, with additional transmission, is the most economic long-term plan to meet the future electricity needs of Manitobans as well as being the most environmentally friendly approach.

Lane implies that building gas generation instead of hydro would eliminate all or a major part of the rate increases forecast over the next 20 years. This ignores the detailed evidence currently in front of the PUB review that an all-natural-gas-fired generation plan would result in similar rate requirements over the next 20 years and would result in 70 per cent greater rate increases in the longer term compared to the preferred hydro plan.

Lane's assertion that a 850-megawatt natural-gas-fired generation station could provide the same or greater reliability than the Bipole III transmission line is factually incorrect. Engineering studies confirm that 1,500 megawatts of natural-gas generation would be required in 2017 to achieve the same reliability and then further gas generation of 500 MW would be required by the year 2025 to meet Manitoba customer load growth.

Manitoba Hydro must take the long view with respect to the development of new supplies of electricity for Manitobans. It is through a careful and comprehensive consideration of both the short and long term that Manitoba Hydro has been able to achieve among the lowest electricity rates in North America. Manitoba Hydro is confident that the proposed hydro plan will continue that successful approach.

Lane's continued critique of Hydro's plans, without the depth of analysis and facts to support his assertions, is oversimplified and misleading. Let the public review process take place. Interested Manitobans can follow the hearings, and transcripts will be posted online, and Hydro's development plan is available at www.hydro.mb.ca.

Scott Thomson

President, Manitoba Hydro

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 16, 2013 A9

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