Monday, May 9, 2011

Wisconsin Bill to designate Wuskwatim hydro project in Northern Manitoba as a "renewable resource"

Electricity from Manitoba Hydro's Wuskwatim generating station would be designated as a "renewable resource" under a Wisconsin Bill, making it eligible to export power to the state.

The 200 MW Wuskwatim project is pioneering as it is being developed as an equity partnership between Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and Manitoba Hydro. This is the first time Manitoba Hydro has entered into an equity partnership with a First Nations community on a generating station project of this size. If successful, it is expected that the Wuskwatim project will be a model for other First Nations renewable energy projects in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The Wuskwatim project is scheduled for completion in 2012 at a cost of $1.3 billion CAD.

The new law in Wisconsin will designate large hydroelectric dams, including the Wuskwatim project in Manitoba, as a renewable energy source to help US power utilities meet newly introduced green-power mandates.

The Bill, expected to be passed in June 2011 would make Manitoba Hydro's new Wuskwatim dam the first in the province eligible for a "renewable resource" designation and opens the door for the Crown corporation to sell even more surplus power to Wisconsin.

Manitoba's power-export deal with Wisconsin, first announced in 2008, is worth $2 billion CAD to the province. Manitoba Hydro is working on a similar export deal with Minnesota that is worth almost $3 billion CAD.

Since 2000 Manitoba Hydro had export sales totalling $5.5 billion CAD. If the Wisconsin and Minnesota deals close and Wuskwatim is successfully commissioned with First Nations equity participation, Manitoba Hydro will have secured their position in North America as a true hydroelectric superpower.

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