Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Submarine cable lives Letter of the day

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Re: Report turns thumbs-down on underwater hydro line (April 9). As co-author of the study, I can say categorically that our report did nothing of the kind. Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason, it is Manitoba Hydro's public relations department that contributed to this misconception.

As a conclusion to his article, Larry Kusch writes: "Manitoba Hydro spokesman Glenn Schneider said the report should put the idea of an underwater transmission cable to rest for the foreseeable future." In this context, the comment could imply that the idea of submarine cable is a dead issue, basically never to be resurrected.

We have just completed a lengthy and complex study, which will take some time for Hydro engineers to analyse. Our research panel was commissioned to provide a report on the feasibility of underwater cable through Lake Winnipeg being part of a Bipole IV transmission line, about 15 years from now. Our conclusion was that a DC submarine cable route may be a viable option at that time.

When Bipole III goes into operation, Hydro's power system may experience frequency-stability problems if we install a fourth Bipole and it is this aspect, not some problem with DC cable, that caused us to say a cable route "may be a viable option" at that time.

There are no design or technology problems with DC submarine cable. In fact, a 1,000-megawatt DC line went into operation on March 31 between the Netherlands and the U.K.

With respect to costs, contrary to the Free Press story, our report does not say that transmission lines "with underwater portions would be more than double the cost of overhead lines." The most likely DC route would cost 1.5 times that of a comparable overhead line.

It is an AC line that would cost 2.8 times as much. But largely because of technical problems, as well as cost, it is almost a certainty that an AC underwater route would never be built.

Moreover, if an overhead line were to be built for Bipole IV, it would probably have to be placed right along the Saskatchewan border, making it so long and costly that an underwater cable route could be competitive in cost, especially considering its advantages.

 

JOHN RYAN

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 16, 2011 A19

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