June 30/July 7, 2003

Ontario, Manitoba study feasibility of east-west hydropower link

Ontario Premier Ernie Eves and Manitoba Premier Gary Doer have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to support a feasibility study of the 1,250-megawatt Conawapa hydro generating station, which will be located on Manitoba's Nelson River. The $2-million study, to be carried out by Hydro One and Manitoba Hydro over a period of about six months, will also look at the construction of a high-voltage transmission line between the two provinces.

"Today's agreement takes us one step closer to the construction of an east-west transmission corridor and the development of Conawapa," said Doer. "We are confident that the study will provide the financial and technical justification and sound business case upon which to proceed. We look forward to working with Ontario on this initiative, which will yield significant benefits for both our provinces while helping to meet our commitments under the Kyoto Protocol."

The study will evaluate the technical and financial aspects of the project, including capital costs for generation and transmission facilities and projected in-service dates. Environmental and regulatory requirements will also be studied. Manitoba Hydro will examine the generating station and transmission line requirements in Manitoba, while Hydro One will focus on the feasibility of a transmission line in northern Ontario. Both provinces have also agreed to work together on a study that will examine the social and economic aspects of the project. This work should be completed by the end of 2003. The federal government has indicated its support for the feasibility study as well. Ontario and Manitoba will continue to work with Ottawa to determine their level of support for the project.

The Conawapa project could supply as much as 5% of Ontario's peak electricity demand and deliver enough power to meet the annual needs of more than 600,000 households. The project could also displace up to six megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, or about 15% of the CO2 emissions produced annually by Ontario's coal-fired generating stations, which are scheduled to be retired by 2015. Moreover, the design and construction of the project could yield up to $5.5 billion in investments, jobs and spinoff opportunities for firms in both provinces.

The generating station would be located on the Nelson River about 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg. The region's favourable geographic conditions would keep flooding to a minimum (about three square kilometres). The river has enough of a drop, sufficient water flow and steep enough riverbanks to support the 1,250-megawatt development with minimal impact.

In other clean energy activities, a new partnership involving the Ontario government, the province's alternative energy sector and the research community will provide funding support for research into alternative renewable fuels. Commissioner of Alternative Energy Steven Gilchrist recently announced the signing of an MOU by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario and Commercial Alcohols, of Chatham.

"Commercial Alcohols Inc will contribute $1 million over ten years to this fund," Gilchrist said. "This funding will support projects that lead to the development of new technology, products and processes, and will position Ontario's alternative renewable fuels sector as a major player in the global industry." He noted that the first call for proposals for the research fund will be made within a few weeks, with projects being awarded this fall.

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