Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Northern Manitoba dams in doubt

Moribund demand and cheap natural gas are now threatening Manitoba's plans for increased hydro capacity. 
Quebec also announced the cancellation of hydro projects today, citing a current context of surplus supply

Northern dams in doubt - Winnipeg Free Press:
Conawapa dam rendering (from source article)
The Selinger government wants the Public Utilities Board rate watchdog to tell it if there's a better alternative to Manitoba Hydro's proposed northern Keeyask and Conawapa generating stations.
The two dams will cost more than $13.4 billion and are key to Manitoba Hydro's ambitious plan to sell more surplus power to the United States."
But there's a catch.
Since Hydro unveiled its plan, the U.S. economy went into a tailspin it's only now coming out ot and new American drilling uncovered a wealth of untapped, cheap natural gas.
The shine of two new massive dams isn't as shiny as it once was.

"Building Keeyask and Conawapa represents a major economic development opportunity for our province," Dave Chomiak, the minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro, said in a release Friday. "The purpose of the Needs For and Alternatives To (NFAT) review is to provide an independent assessment of the need for new generation and to compare the benefits of building new hydro generation to alternatives such as natural gas."
The PUB has said in earlier orders that Manitoba Hydro should revisit its plans to build Keeyask and Conawapa because of lower revenue caused by the availability of cheap natural gas. The board has already said Hydro could build a natural gas-fired plant to supply Manitobans with power cheaper than that from the two northern dams.

I find it strange the article does not note an opportunity in addressing the coal burned in the provinces directly to the west of Manitoba.

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