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Better projects are key

Engaging aboriginal communities is fundamental to a respectful and responsible approach to hydro-power development. Colin Craig of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation questions what is achieved by Hydro's expenditures for this purpose (Hydro refuses to say what $223 million bought, Feb. 12). The answer is better projects to supply Manitoba's growing demand for electricity -- projects with reduced environmental impacts, lower compensation costs through investigation of impact up front and greater local benefits.

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By engaging local communities, we gain aboriginal traditional knowledge that enhances project-planning monitoring and environmental assessment. This approach also levels the playing field to ensure communities have the resources to effectively represent their interests about projects, impacts and opportunities.

Expenditures to date include costs related to participation in project planning, community meetings and consultations, environmental and regulatory matters, aboriginal traditional knowledge, land-use studies, training, employment and business opportunities, independent legal, professional and technical advice, and negotiation of adverse effects arrangements, including offsetting programs and compensation for unavoidable adverse effects. The costs, while significant in absolute terms, represent less than two per cent of the total project investments.

SCOTT THOMSON

President and CEO

Manitoba Hydro

Giving God a bad name

I agree with Robert Rekrut and Rudy Peters regarding religions not being a root cause of war (Tribe vs. tribe, Letters, Feb. 16). There is little doubt, however, that the focused convictions and actions of their staunchest adherents all too often give God a bad name.

Jari Qudrat in his letter Islamist defined on the same page is pointing in the same direction. Perhaps that is why there are atheists.

DAVE ENNIS

Winnipeg

ñü

Jari Quadrut would like to convince your readership that Islamist terrorist groups are not Islamic in nature. I think he does not realize that we already accept that argument.

Perhaps his efforts would be better spent writing to organizations such as al-Qaida, and urging them to renounce terrorism.

DAVID SELCH

Winnipeg

Buses ease congestion

Stephen Parker is incorrect to blame buses for congestion on his morning commute (Crowding us out, Letters, Feb. 14). During rush hour, there are approximately 30 buses per hour heading east along Portage Avenue. With 50 to 60 passengers per bus, the diamond lane is able to handle 1,500 or more commuters per hour.

In comparison, each lane dedicated primarily to single passenger vehicles carries fewer than 1,000 commuters per hour in city traffic. It is the private cars that are crowding out our roadways, not the other way around.

If commuters want traffic decreased, the best way is to increase funding for bus and active-transportation options, thereby easing congestion, while simultaneously reducing pollution and improving our air quality.

JOSH BRANDON

Green Action Centre

Winnipeg

An important amenity

We agree that access to grocery shopping should be available to residents living in downtown. Amenities that provide services to downtown residents such as grocery stores are critically important to the vitality of the downtown.

The grocery store in the Bay downtown serves a sizable and diverse market that includes the elderly, students, nearby residents and downtown workers. The impact on these downtown residents and workers who depend on the convenience of a downtown food store is concerning to all downtown stakeholders.

The CentreVenture Development Corporation, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ and our downtown partners are working together to develop a strategy that addresses this issue. In the end, there may be a number of different solutions. Ultimately, we need food stores that are viable, competitive and address the diversity of needs in the downtown and its surrounding neighbourhoods.

ROSS McGOWAN

President and CEO

CentreVenture

Winnipeg

Chomiak figure fabricated

In his Jan. 28 column Hydro development key to Manitoba prosperity, Minister Dave Chomiak attempts to make a case for $15-$20 billion in northern dams and associated facilities to generate electricity for export to the U.S. The cost of the new electricity is in excess of 10 cents per kilowatt hour.

Chomiak claims Hydro has contracts that will bring in $29 billion over the next 30 years. By Hydro's 2012 annual report, extra-provincial sales, now yielding under four cents/kWh, have plummeted for seven years, to $363 million in 2012. Cheap natural gas generation competes with electricity sales to the U.S.

To achieve $29 billion, annual exports would have to average almost $1 billion. Historically, annual exports have never come close to this amount. There are no contracts for such amounts or contracts that far into the future. The $29 billion is fabrication. At present, Manitoba Hydro customers would be saddled with the $15-$20 billion.

An article with this month's Hydro bill attempts to explain that exports help pay for hydro. By disingenuously using an average figure over the past 10 years, the continuing downward spiral of export revenue is masked so Hydro claims exports produce 33.3 per cent of total revenues. The analysis doesn't reveal the precipitous drop from a peak of over 40 per cent in 2005 to the current 23.1 per cent, the lowest in the 10-year period.

Not surprisingly, Hydro is asking the Public Utilities Board to increase hydro rates at twice the rate of inflation for the next 20 years. Even higher rate increases will be necessary if Hydro builds generation costing 10 cents/kWh and sales continue at four cents/kWh. For Manitoba, load-growth power becomes available from the scheduled closing of mining smelters, providing time to observe trends and evaluate development.

AL MYSKA

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 20, 2013 $sourceSection0

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