Former NDP Energy Minister Tim Sale publicly criticized Manitoba Hydro for the its lack of investment in wind energy before the Public Utilities Board (PUB) on April 4.
“It’s very important to understand that the corporation hates wind,” Sale told the PUB. “There’s just no way around it. They asserted over and over again that there was no financially feasible wind resource in Manitoba [when] in fact we have better wind resources than most places in Canada because we’re part of the Great Plains.”
According to the Winnipeg Free Press, Sale further argued that by emphasizing its use of wind technology, Hydro could store water in reservoirs for use at generating stations during times of high demand.
The development of wind energy was a key point for the NDP in 2005, a year in which the party promised that, under their leadership, Hydro and the province would initiate a plan to “develop 1,000 megawatts of wind power over the next 10 years.”
It was in that same year that Sale was appointed to the position of NDP minister in charge of the administration of the Manitoba Hydro Act, a position from which he spearheaded a plan to develop the use of wind energy in the province. He left the posting after just two years.
“They [Hydro] just don’t like wind power: full stop,” Sale said.
“It’s a puzzle to me, and it was a puzzle when I was minister. I can only put it down to corporate culture.”
Eduard Wojczynski, division manager of portfolio projects management at Manitoba Hydro, responded to Sale’s criticism. He said that Hydro has looked at acquiring more wind power assets, but has not found them to be beneficial to the company for the time being.
Sale’s own party gave no indication in a March 29 statement that they themselves had any significant interest in developing wind power in lieu of hydro-electric-based resources.
“We live in a province of water, with lots of water, and that’s not going to change any time soon,” said current Manitoba Hydro Minister Stan Struthers.
“The people of Manitoba expect us to harness that power and turn it into good jobs, lower rates, and system reliability. It just makes very good environmental sense to use that water.”
Still, Sale insists Manitoba Hydro is making a mistake by disregarding wind power as a viable alternative energy source.
“They simply don’t like wind. They don’t want it, and they have made it virtually impossible to build wind here, unlike most other North American jurisdictions,” said Sale.
“We have capacity factors here that Ontario would die for, but Hydro for some reason has what I consider an irrational dislike of wind power.”
The PUB is currently evaluating Hydro’s plans to build two hydroelectricity-generating stations (Keeyask and Conawapa) and a transmission line that would carry energy from Manitoba to the United States.
The evaluation, known as a “Needs For and Alternatives To,” or NFAT inquiry, began earlier this year and is scheduled to conclude on May 31. The report developed from the findings of the NFAT will be submitted to the government by June 20.