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Letters – for Feb. 10, 2011

The recent letter from MLA Stu Briese misleads Manitobans about the facts of the Bipole III line and the plans of his party that would put Hydro reliability and low rates at risk.

Manitoba Hydro is moving forward to build Bipole III on the west side of the province in order to protect the reliability of our power supply and increase the clean energy exports that keep Manitobans’ hydro electricity rates the lowest in North America.

Our government is currently in discussions with the Saskatchewan government to assess their future energy needs. As Saskatchewan continues to move to more environmentally sustainable power sources, the energy supplied by Manitoba Hydro is increasingly attractive and we need to continue to develop hydro generation and transmission so we can take advantage of that opportunity.

Stu Briese is wrong; we can export power to Saskatchewan from Bipole III. As Hydro CEO Bob Brennan has said on several occasions – including before elected MLAs at a standing committee of the Legislature on October 25, 2010 – a major power sale to Saskatchewan can be facilitated by having Bipole III on the west side of Manitoba by building an additional converter station along the line.

After four rounds of consultation with communities on the west side, Manitoba Hydro will apply for an environmental licence for Bipole III this year and, once approvals are in place, construction will begin in 2012 to achieve an in-service date of 2017.

Reversing this work, as Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen claims he will do, and attempting to force the line through the boreal forest on the east side would grind Manitoba Hydro to a halt. The McFadyen Conservatives’ reckless plan would ignite a major controversy and court challenges that would jeopardize the entire project and put the reliability of our power supply and export commitments worth billions at risk.

Our government isn’t willing to take that risk. Instead, we’re building the future of Manitoba Hydro – continuing with development of export sales and protecting our power supply so Manitoba families and businesses can continue to benefit from the lowest power rates in North America.

Rosann Wowchuk, Minister Responsible for Manitoba Hydro of producers across Western Canada in dealing with the railways.

De Pape seems to base his views on the assumption that the railways have farmers’ interests at heart. De Pape is certainly correct when he says the railways no longer use multi-car incentives as a deduction in their revenue cap accounting.

What he has chosen to ignore is that the railways use their new accounting method to accomplish the same end of getting someone else to pay for the incentives. They do this by reducing the freight rate charged to 100-car shippers by an amount that is $8 per tonne below the single car freight rate. This should cause them to earn less revenue. For example, when the railways allocate $100 million in multi-car incentives each year they should logically be $100 million below the cap each year.

However, they then increase the single car freight rate to all shippers across the Prairies, thus bringing their earnings back up to the cap. Just as before, the multi-car incentives do not come out of the railways’ pockets. De Pape also doesn’t seem concerned by the fact that railways only generate a $3 savings from an $8 incentive.

It doesn’t matter if you view a multi-car incentive as a deduction or a reduction, the result is the same. In my view, that is definitely slick accounting.

I should add, the trucking premiums De Pape cites amount to farmers getting a premium that they’ve paid for themselves. That’s spin, pure and simple, and I’m surprised John couldn’t see through it.

Bill Woods CWB Director, District 4 Eston, Sask.

Please forward letters to Manitoba Co-operator, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, R3H 0H1 or Fax: 204-954-1422 or email: [email protected] (subject: To the editor)

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