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Wisconsin's wind

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A few days ago Manitoba Hydro's Bob Brennan told me one of the hurdles the Crown corporation faces in selling more power to the United States is competition from American wind farms.

Brennan said as American states buy more power from Manitoba, critics in the U.S. say it will result in a loss of jobs and investment for new wind farms and other projects.

Specifically, they're opposed to a new Wisconsin bill to allow hydroelectric power from Manitoba to qualify as "renewable" under that state's energy mandate. Assembly Bill 114 was passed in the state Senate and is up for a final Assembly vote June 7.

"The opposition to us selling into the States comes from environmental groups," Brennan said. "They want to protect their own sources of generation like garbage-burning, wind and all that. We're harming that by selling what we deem to be clean power.

"They've all got these standards for renewable energy. Once ours counts, it's makes it really hard to get theirs done."

Wisconsin's Bill 114 says that facilities with more than 60 megawatts capacity -- like Hydro's Wuskwatim Generating Station on the Burntwood River-- would count as a renewable energy resource under Wisconsin law as of Dec. 31, 2015.

Hydro said in late May it had signed agreements for a 250‑megawatt (MW) sale of electricity to Minnesota Power and a 100-MW sale to Wisconsin Public Service. Combined with a previously completed 125 MW sale to Northern States Power, the sales total 475 MW with an estimated value of $4 billion. The sale will also require the construction the 695-MW Keeyask Generating Station on the lower Nelson River.

To read more on the issue, go here: Wisconsin's Struggling Wind Sector Could Suffer Another Legislative Blow.

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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen

Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.

Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.

At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.

He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.

Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.

In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.

You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.

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