Tom Adams on Conawapa

Publication, Energy, Tom Adams

Question: Are there any issues with the Conawapa dam planned for Northern Manitoba?

Geography, geography, geography. Conawapa is so far away from Ontario’s major power needs in the eastern regions of the province that by the time the power is delivered, the cost of facilities and the electrical losses in transmission result in power that is very expensive, even relative to quite expensive alternatives. The information presented in the feasibility study suggests that the delivered cost of power could be over 10 cents per kilowatt hour. If Manitoba is planning sell power to Ontario, something cheaper and more timely would be much better.

Another problem with Conawapa is timing. The power can’t be delivered until about 2014, whereas, Ontario’s need for new power starts to get really serious in 2006 (if Ontario is lucky). The Ontario government has initiated a procurement program for new generators which imposes significant penalties on generators who can’t deliver before the end of 2007. Stacked up against the requirements of the generation procurement program, the value of Conawapa power should be considerably discounted.

In reviewing the feasibility study, I notice that the summary claims that the delivered cost of power could be as high as 7.8 cents/kWh (in current dollars) whereas the sensitivity analysis for generation and transmission costs suggests that the total cost could be as high as 9.9 cents/kWh. 9.9 cents is about twice the current price and very high by comparison with even some of the flakey green alternatives.