Manitoba announces plan to build 1,250-MW Conawapa

The government of Manitoba, in the annual Throne Speech opening the Legislature, announced it would proceed with plans to build the long-delayed 1,250-MW Conawapa hydroelectric project.

Lieutenant Gov. John Harvard, as representative of the British Commonwealth’s Queen Elizabeth, announced Conawapa’s development on the Nelson River as one of the major plans of Manitoba Premier Gary Doer’s government.

�Energy projections for export and domestic markets indicate the time is right for Manitoba Hydro to move forward with another major generating station,� Harvard said November 15. �As with Wuskwatim, the components of the Conawapa project will be submitted for public review by independent regulators.�

Harvard remarked at a revival of enthusiasm for hydropower’s potential. He noted the 200-MW Wuskwatim hydroelectric project is now under construction on the Burntwood River in northern Manitoba. (HNN 11/2/06) He also noted Manitoba Hydro recently announced a 10-year agreement to sell nearly 375 MW of hydropower to Minnesota utility Xcel Energy in the United States. He valued that deal at more than C$2 billion (US$1.74 billion). (HNN 11/6/06)

Manitoba and Ontario signed an agreement in October 2005, marking the first step in a joint venture to build hydropower projects in Manitoba and a transmission line capable of delivering at least 1,500 MW of hydropower to energy-hungry Ontario. (HNN 11/15/06)

That agreement calls for Manitoba to supply Ontario more than C$500 million (US$425 million) in hydropower, starting in 2006, through the Clean Energy Transfer Initiative. The initiative is a broader plan being discussed by the provinces in which 1,500 to 3,000 MW of Manitoba hydropower would be sold to Ontario. The second phase of that initiative envisions building additional Manitoba hydropower, including Conawapa.

In December 1992, Manitoba Hydro postponed plans to build Conawapa due to utility Ontario Hydro’s cancellation of a power purchase contract.

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