[Editor's note. Please enjoy this piece courtesy of Scott Harrison]
Manitoba Hydro claims the St. Joseph’s wind farm will be smaller than the original proposal at 300 megawatts to 138 megawatts. With Manitoba being one of the windiest places in the country (especially southwestern Manitoba), Hydro should allow for faster tendering of wind projects to be built by private corporations, the public or RM’s. These organizations will provide the finance backing to build the wind farms, rather than having the government finance the upfront costs as they are presently doing with the hydro dams in Northern Manitoba. All Manitoba Hydro has to do is follow Ontario’s lead and buy the power back from the companies at an increased rate above the six or seven cents a kilowatt-hour hydro is currently offering. If in fact Manitoba is to reach its target of 1,000 Megawatts by 2015 they better buy power at a higher price or companies will build their wind farms elsewhere (Ontario is presently offering 13.5 cents per kilowatt-hour to wind energy developers). The Manitoba government should invest in wind, solar, and geothermal energy rather than hydro because it helps to offset our dependence on one type of “clean energy”. What happens if we have a drought as was suggest by some Whistleblower’s? Other clean power sources could make up for the difference. Additionally the power lost to transmission is likely to be lower for wind farms because the power is more likely to be produced in the more densely populated southern Manitoba which consumes the bulk of the provinces electricity. Germany has an integrated system of wind, solar, biogas and hydro all throughout the country. The German and Ontarian example provides a model that we could follow here in Manitoba. If only this government was really committed to the idea of a diversified clean energy portfolio.