November 7, 2005

Clean energy plans feature prominently in Manitoba Throne Speech

Building Manitoba's clean energy advantage was a dominant theme of the October 27 Throne Speech opening the fourth session of the 38th Manitoba legislature. Over the next ten years, the speech pointed out, Manitoba can expect to develop over $3 billion worth of clean energy projects. The government is committed to building its clean energy advantage through increased hydroelectric exports, expanded wind farms, further ethanol development and the expansion of biofuels.

Some of the significant new initiatives unveiled in the speech included: further negotiations with potential customers on clean energy sales over the next six years; the introduction of a Manitoba Home Heating Strategy to soften the impact of gas rate increases and provide homeowners assistance in making energy-saving upgrades; and a commitment to put in place 1,000 megawatts (MW) of wind generation over the next decade.

Coinciding with the speech was the signing of an agreement between Manitoba and Ontario which will see Manitoba transfer more than $500 million in clean, renewable hydro power to Ontario, starting in 2006, through the Clean Energy Transfer Initiative.

The agreement is the first phase of a larger 1,500 to 3,000 MW power sale currently under discussion by the two provinces. It was announced by Manitoba Energy, Science and Technology Minister Dave Chomiak, Ontario Energy Minister Donna Cansfield and Manitoba Hydro president and CEO Bob Brennan. Chomiak noted that "The clean energy transfer is...one of the single largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in Canada, equal to removing 500,000 vehicles from city streets."

The clean energy transfer will begin in 2006 with 150 MW, increasing to 400 MW annually as transmission upgrades come on-line to increase capacity between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. The upgrades, which should be completed by 2009, will essentially double the east-west grid capacity at the critical Manitoba-Ontario connection point.

In the meantime, Manitoba and Ontario will continue to discuss the second phase of the initiative, a long-term clean energy transfer of up to 3,000 MW. The second phase would require the construction of new generating facilities in Manitoba, as well as new transmission infrastructure. At present, Manitoba has developed approximately half of its hydroelectric potential. The two provinces hope to elicit financial support for the project from the federal government.

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