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This article was published 24/10/2014 (1820 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Opposition Leader Brian Pallister wants to stop the "Americanization" of Manitoba Hydro.
Pallister made the comment Friday in which he said he would also pull the plug on the Bipole III transmission project despite the millions spent on preparatory work, regulatory approval and consultations on the line's 1,384 kilometre route from near Gillam to Winnipeg.
"It is the biggest boondoggle in the history of Manitoba," Pallister said of the new line, which is to come into service by 2018. "This will stand as the dumbest decision by any government in the history of Manitoba. This is a mistake."
The cost of building the new transmission line down the west side of the province, which is in the early stages of construction, has jumped to $4.6 billion.
Pallister said if he were premier, work on Bipole III would be stopped.
"I'd pull the plug on the Bipole III project, listen to the experts, respect Manitobans, create a better climate for job creation and wealth creation in our province by keeping Hydro rates down, stop the program to Americanize Manitoba Hydro and think about what you're doing to the future of our province," he said.
"Manitoba Hydro's first priority should be Manitobans, not Americans."
Stan Struthers, the minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro, said by pulling that plug, Pallister would also pull the plug on the province's future.
The Bipole III project was approved as a way to add more reliability to Hydro's bringing of hydro power south to Winnipeg from its northern dams, and to allow for the transmission of more electricity south to American utilities in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
"For decades, the foundation for keeping our rates the lowest in North America has been to sell clean, green hydro power to Minnesota and Wisconsin," Struthers said. "We also have an arrangement with Saskatchewan now.
"It's a huge opportunity to sell on the export market and Brian Pallister has said we shouldn't do that. He's playing games and he's putting at risk our economic future."
In its recently released 2013-14 annual report, Hydro said, largely due to more electricity exports last year, it saw a net income of $174 million for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, up from $92 million the year before. It also saw its retained earnings hit $2.72 billion — the highest level in the corporation's history.
Hydro has signalled it will need consecutive rate increases from now to 2033 to help pay for Bipole III and other hydroelectric generation and transmission projects. All rate increases are to be set by the arm's-length Public Utilities Board.