Water levels supplying generating stations well below normal: Manitoba Hydro

·3 min read

After months of prolonged drought in the province, Manitoba Hydro says water flows supplying their generating stations are well below normal, and at some locations the lowest they have been in decades, but they can’t yet say how this will affect their bottom line, or if ratepayers can expect a spike in their hydro bills in the coming months.

Back in August the Winnipeg Sun reached out to Manitoba Hydro to inquire about how recent dry conditions in Manitoba have effected their operations.

“As you know, Manitoba and the entire prairie region have experienced record low precipitation from last fall through to this summer,” Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen said in an email.

“As a result, water inflows from southern portions of the watershed supplying Manitoba Hydro’s generating stations are well below normal – the lowest in over 40 years at some locations. This includes the Saskatchewan, Assiniboine, Red and Winnipeg Rivers.”

Owen said that no matter what the weather does moving forward, it is likely that the recent lack of precipitation will result in less revenue than had been forecasted for Manitoba Hydro, but he added specific information on the effects on their revenues cannot yet be offered.

“Even with recent rainfall and assuming normal precipitation for the rest of the year, the impact of below average water flows is expected to result in less net extra-provincial revenue relative to our budget forecast,” Owen said.

“As hydro-electric generation and net revenues are largely dependent on spring, summer and fall rainfall, it’s too early to assess the impact of low-water conditions with certainty, as water supplies can recover to average or above average relatively quickly following persistent, widespread rain events.”

No Manitoba Hydro customers should be concerned that their services could be affected in any way by the low water levels, according to Owen.

“Customers should know Manitoba Hydro plans and operates its system knowing that drought can occur, so Manitobans can always rely on Manitoba Hydro for their electricity,” Owen said.

“We’re currently taking action to conserve reservoir storage to ensure a reliable energy supply for our customers and mitigate any financial effects of the drought on our finances.”

On Tuesday, Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Scott Powell said that further information on the financial impacts of the drought on Manitoba Hydro won’t be known until their next quarterly report is released and he said that report is expected “in the coming weeks.”

“Once we have our quarterly reports there will be more information, but right now it’s too early to speculate,” Powell said.

Manitoba’s Minister of Crown Services Jeff Wharton said that despite the low water levels, the province hopes to keep hydro rates from rising significantly.

“In response to these drought conditions Manitoba Hydro is taking the actions necessary to conserve reservoir storage to ensure Manitobans have the reliable energy they require,” Wharton said in an email Tuesday.

“Our government will continue to work with Manitoba Hydro to ensure hydro rates remain affordable for Manitobans.”

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

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