Tentative deal with U.S. co-op supports Manitoba hydro project

Manitoba Hydro said Feb. 21 that it and Great River Energy have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly investigate the sale of up to 600 MW from Manitoba Hydro to Great River Energy, commencing in approximately 2020.

Under the MOU, the utilities have agreed to discuss supplying some of Great River Energy’s long-term electricity needs from Manitoba Hydro’s proposed new hydroelectric stations. An eventual agreement could also take advantage of a new Manitoba-to-Minnesota transmission line proposed as part of Manitoba Hydro’s preferred development plan.

The new hydro stations include the proposed, 695-MW Keeyask Generating Station, which is being developed in partnership with four local first nations – Tataskweyak First Nation, Fox Lake First Nation, War Lake First Nation, and York Factory First Nation. Keeyask builds on the partnership between Manitoba Hydro and the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation that saw the development of the Wuskwatim Generating Station, completed in 2012. Keeyask would be located 35 kilometers upstream of the existing Kettle Generating station, where Gull Lake flows into Stephens Lake. The utility has said that Keeyask could go into construction this year and be completed in 2019.

“We are pleased to work with a trusted partner like Great River Energy to help increase the supply of virtually carbon-free, renewable hydroelectric energy in their supply mix,” stated Scott Thomson, President and CEO of Manitoba Hydro. “This MOU demonstrates the continued strong interest in hydro power in U.S. markets. Expansion of electricity trade with Great River Energy will support expansion of hydropower generating capacity in Manitoba and contribute to the ongoing supply of renewable, reliable, and cost-effective electricity to Manitobans.”

Manitoba Hydro and Great River Energy have signed a number of power sale and diversity agreements over the last several decades including a 200-MW agreement that runs until 2030. These new discussions under the MOU will help both utilities continue to plan for the long-term development of their generating and transmission resources for the mutual benefit of their customers on both sides of the border.

“The discussion with Manitoba Hydro opens the door to additional hydropower for Great River Energy and our members,” said Jon Brekke, Great River Energy Vice President of Membership and Energy Markets. “We have reduced our carbon intensity by 20 percent since 2005. Additional hydropower may be the next logical step in the evolution of our power generation portfolio.”

Great River Energy is a not-for-profit cooperative which provides wholesale electric service to 28 distribution cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It is the second largest electric power supplier in Minnesota and one of the largest generation and transmission (G&T) cooperatives in the United States.

Manitoba Hydro is a Crown Corporation and the province’s major energy utility, serving over 548,000 electric customers across the province and almost 270,000 natural gas customers in communities throughout southern Manitoba. Manitoba Hydro operates 15 hydroelectric and two thermal facilities and has a total generating capacity of 5,685 MW.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.