Saskatchewan has taken a small step towards reducing the amount of dirty coal it burns to generate electricity. Sask Power has signed a 20 year deal with Manitoba Hydro to buy 100 megawatts. The value of the deal was not disclosed, but you can bet that it wasn’t huge. Manitoba will also have to shell out a cool $50 million to build an 80 kilometre transmission line between the provinces.
Once the power starts to flow in 2020, it will amount to about 20% of the electricity produced by the Keeyask generating station on the Nelson River. The most recent price tag for that big dam is $6.5 billion. Critics of Hydro say it will likely end up producing a lot of power that won’t be needed.
Hydro-electricity was supposed to be Manitoba’s ace in the hole, but like always, reality changes things when you plan for the future. Oil and natural gas are now a glut on the market in North America. Many of the U.S. markets that once might have paid a premium for renewable hydro from Manitoba, are finding cheaper and more convenient ways to turn the lights on.
Greg Selinger and company will never admit it, but those secret contracts for power sales mean they are selling electricity to the Americans, and probably Saskatchewan as well, at a loss. To me, that redefines the term no brainer in a way that’s not very positive.
It’s almost as dumb as the $700 million plus that Saskatchewan is spending, with help from Ottawa, on carbon capture.
When he was premier of Manitoba, Gary Doer tried valiantly to get the feds and other provinces to work towards a national energy strategy. He wanted it to include things like an east-west power grid. The other premiers weren’t buying, and Stephen Harper then gave Mr. Doer a nice job in Washington.
Since 2009, he’s been trying to get President Obama and the rest of our southern neighbours to go for a little pipe called Keystone X-L.
Funny, that one is not working out either.
I’m Roger Currie