The new Manitoba Hydro rate increase of nearly four per cent is a direct result of the NDP government’s mismanagement of the utility and its major projects – and the worst is yet to come.
“This is the first of many rate increases to come because of the NDP’s wasteful blunders with the BiPole III transmission line and other unnecessarily costly projects,” said Ralph Eichler, Opposition Critic for Manitoba Hydro. “Manitobans simply can’t afford this continued mismanagement.”
The increase announced today by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) will take effect on August 1. Hydro has indicated it needs annual rate increases of approximately four per cent over the next 10 years to help cover the costs of the $4.6-billion BiPole III line and the $6.5-billion Keeyask generating station. Rates will at least double by 2034.
In its recent submissions to the PUB, the Hydro board projects it will actually need more than the four per cent to cover rapidly escalating construction costs.
The NDP’s waste on Hydro has been worsened by its decision to ignore a PUB recommendation last year to discontinue the $10.7-billion Conawapa dam project. After the NDP said in 2014 it accepted the recommendation to halt all work on the generating station, Hydro continued to spend about $31 million on what its quarterly financial report described as “future Conawapa generation.”
The NDP has also ignored the PUB recommendation to create an arm’s-length agency to manage the province’s energy needs and conservation initiatives. Deputy premier Eric Robinson told Eichler in a letter last April they were only “working on options” to the PUB’s recommendation. The PUB made that recommendation to address what it calls a conflict of interest in Hydro acting as a seller of electricity and vendor for energy-efficient measures.