It didn't make the news here, but it opened a few eyes at Manitoba Hydro.
Back in late October, Dominion Resources Inc. announced it was closing its Kewaunee Power Station, a small Wisconsin nuclear plant built in 1974 on Lake Michigan about 40 kilometres southeast of Green Bay.
There were two reasons, according to news reports. Dominion had been shopping around for a buyer and couldn't find one and the other was because of the low price of natural gas in North America.
The 556-megawatt facility is expected to stop producing power in mid 2013 and begin the slow process of shutting down.
Reports also say that late last year, Alliant Energy Corp.-- its supplies energy to Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota--ended negotiations with Dominion on a power purchase deal. The remainder of Kewaunee's power is sold to Green Bay-based Public Service Corp.
To try to localize this, Alliant, Public Service Corp. and Manitoba Hydro belong to the same club. They are each part of MISO, the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc.
MISO manages the grid in 11 U.S. states. Manitoba is the only Canadian province that's a member.
The move to mothball the Kewaunee plant is dependent upon a review to be conducted by MISO on the impact of its closure on the grid.
In 2008, Manitoba Hydro signed a ‘term sheet’ with Public Service Corp. to provide up to 500 megawatts hydro power to Wisconsin over 15 years starting in 2018.
That deal was scaled back somewhat three years later.
The question now is does Kewaunee's closure change things back in Manitoba Hydro's favour?
The answer, it appears, is no.
The boom in North America's gas production, tied to hydraulic fracking, has kept natural gas prices so low that some U.S. utilities are switching over their power generation to natural gas from coal.
It's that, coupled with the poor economy in the U.S., that's created a low demand for Manitoba Hydro's surplus power.
And for now at least, it appears the plant's shutdown, and the loss 556 megawatts, will have little impact on the state's power supply.
Wisconsin just doesn't need it, some observers say. Energy conservation plus natural gas plus wind power have in a short time thrown the market upside down.
Which begs the question: If it can happen in Wisconsin can it happen here?
Hydro still wants go ahead with its new Keeyask generation station on the lower Nelson River near Split Lake to meet the growing domestic demand in southern Manitoba. Keeyask is expected to produce 695 megawatts.
Manitoba Hydro wants Keeyask's first turbine turning by 2019 with the other six spinning by 2021.
Soon a panel of Manitoba's Public Ultilities Board will start to ask that question. What they come up with will define the province's place in hydro development for generations to come.