Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Geothermal option bypasses Hydro rate increases

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DEAR EDITOR,

 

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Re: Manitoba Hydro lays out case for new rate hikes (Dec. 11). Manitoba Hydro is asking for a 3.95 per cent rate hike every year for 18 years. That's so it can pay for the construction of Bipole III ($3.28 billion), Conawapa ($7.8 billion) and Keeyask ($5.6 billion) for a total of $16.68 billion. That's to deliver 2,180 megawatts of power to southern Manitoba. Wow! That's about $7,650 to deliver a single kilowatt of power to us in Winnipeg.

According to Hydro, there are about 127,000 electrically heated homes in Manitoba. Converting them from electric furnaces and baseboards to geothermal heat pumps would reduce electricity demand by about 950 megawatts. Even if Hydro paid the full amount of converting these homes to geothermal, that would cost $3 billion. That's only about $3,150 per kilowatt -- $4,500 less than building the new dams and Bipole III.

As a consultant involved in the geothermal heating industry, I ask you to think about this. Let's say you have an electric furnace in your home and your monthly Hydro bill is $300. If you installed a geothermal heat pump, your monthly bill would drop to about $150. You can:

-- Borrow the money from Hydro to install a geothermal heat pump.

-- Pay the loan back on your Hydro bill.

-- Reduce your Hydro bill by about $150 per month.

-- Use the savings to pay for the $148 per month loan repayment.

-- Have a geothermal heat pump, including air conditioning, and save $2 per month.

In other words, to get a new geothermal heat pump installed in your home would cost you nothing and your monthly Hydro bill would actually go down a couple of bucks.

So let's think about this. Hydro wants to build new dams and transmission lines at the cost of $7,650 per kilowatt and double your rates over the next 18 years.

Or you can replace the electric furnace or baseboards in your home and it will cost you nothing. And Hydro will earn 3.9 per cent interest on the money it loans you over 20 years. And they can have 950 megatwatts to sell to the U.S. because of all the electricity being saved. And it costs nothing, to you or to Hydro.

Maybe, if enough people switch to geothermal heat pumps, Hydro doesn't have the justification to increase its rates by 3.95 per cent per year.

 

ED LOHRENZ

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 14, 2012 A13

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