Public Utility Board (PUB) hearings into electricity rates began this month. Manitoba Hydro is seeking a 3.95 per cent increase in electricity rates this year. The provincially owned utility would like to see similar yearly increases up until 2030. These increases would help pay for a menu of major construction projects including two new hydro dams, new transmission lines and other big capital items.

Green Action Centre is once again participating as an intervener. The hearings provide an important opportunity for the public to have a say in the direction of Manitoba’s energy policy. With both a new CEO at Manitoba Hydro and a new PUB we hope there will be opportunities for new ways of thinking to guide this development.

Manitoba’s energy future is at a crossroads: Do we go down the road of building ever more generation to feed a never ending thirst for electricity, or do we recognize the limits of growth and look for ways to reduce demand while maximizing the benefits of the energy we do consume for all Manitobans? The choice we take will have dramatic implications for future generations, for consumers and for the environment.

We believe that the backbone of future energy planning should be centred on demand reduction. Every kilowatt we save through conservation and investments in home retrofits and education puts less strain of the system, reduces ecological footprint of our energy infrastructure and leaves us with more power to export to other markets. Manitoba has a good record of demand reduction in the past. In recent years, there have been reductions in demand of over 150 GWh per year. If we were to invest in demand reduction at the same rate as New York, Vermont or other US jurisdictions, we could reduce demand at three times this rate.

For more information about Green Action Centre’s energy policy proposals, read:

Green and fair energy rates for Manitoba Hydro
Green Action Centre’s 2011 PUB submission

Home Energy Affordability in Manitoba: A Low Income Affordability Program for Manitoba Hydro

Electricity: How affordable is cheap?

Busting Myths on Affordable and Sustainable Energy

Green Action Centre’s submission
on green energy to the Province’s Tommorrow Now consultation.