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Manitoba opposition questions hydro focus

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by Journal Of Commerce

Manitoba Tories say Manitoba Hydro is focusing on American projects at the expense of Manitobans.

Manitoba Tories say Manitoba Hydro is focusing on American projects at the expense of Manitobans.

Tory Leader Brian Pallister said the Crown utility wants approval to build and co-own a proposed transmission line that will run from Winnipeg to Duluth, Minn. Manitoba Hydro would own 49 per cent of the 500-kilovolt transmission line with Minnesota Power owning the rest, making it the first foreign holding by Hydro.

The Public Utilities Board has heard that Hydro’s stake in the line was needed so that it would be upgraded, at Hydro’s request, from the originally proposed 230 kilovolts.

The larger line would allow Hydro to ship more power into the Wisconsin market and import more power to Manitoba from U.S. utilities when needed.

The board was recently told that under a confidential deal with Minnesota Power to build the transmission line, Manitoba Hydro will be responsible for 66 per cent of the line’s construction and maintenance.

“The fact is what we’re guaranteed with here under the NDP’s agenda is a power-aid program,” Pallister said.

“We get to do all the sweating up here and they get the juice down there. The fact is Manitoba Hydro has entered into a commitment that obligates Manitoba Hydro ratepayers to subsidize U.S. purchasers.’’

Hydro’s division manager of power sales, David Cormie, told the board it’s still a benefit to the utility because it provides it with an electricity pipeline into the American Midwest.

“Under the contracts dependent on the line, Manitoba Hydro’s energy gets shipped first,” he told the board.

He also said it makes sense to build a larger-capacity transmission line now because having to add another line to Minnesota in later years will be more expensive and scrutinized.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2014

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