Pipe, Dam and Electricity Dreams

Research Paper, Crown Corporations, Andrew Pickford

A decision will shortly be made about whether to build the Keeyask and Conawapa hydroelectric dams and the associated Bipole III transmission line, which could cost Manitoba billions of dollars. This paper argues that, if approved, this will burden the next generation with debt and higher utility prices. The paper reviews the development of the Manitoba electricity sector as well as how the interaction of gas and power markets is changing decades-old realities. It includes examples from other jurisdictions where government involvement in electricity has led to unintended consequences, thus providing a cautionary tale. By showing historical electricity demand forecasts that vastly differed from reality, as well as describing the impact of disruptive new technologies, it illustrates the fragility of demand and the sales assumptions made by Manitoba Hydro to justify investment. The paper concludes by proposing six options that favour prudence rather than pipe dreams and new dams.

View entire study here.