Re: Keeyask fiscal windfall could be Tories political downfall (Opinion, June 16)

Dan Lett’s recent column regarding Manitoba Hydro’s anticipated windfall should have been more accurately headlined "Export windfall means Keeyask will lose less money." Unfortunately for Lett, as a political commentor with a particular dislike of the current government, such reality does not offer much in the way of cache.

It is true that former premier Brian Pallister went over the top condemning Keeyask, yet the excessive cost of the hydroelectric project is not a figment of his imagination. It would have been better for Pallister in the cost review to have engaged boring academics rather than high-profile politicians. The same conclusions would have been confirmed, showing Keeyask to be unnecessary and too costly, but not easily dismissed as "political."

For several years, my students at the Asper School of Business have examined cost aspects of Keeyask. We find that to not lose money, at least around 12 cents must be received for every single kWh, day in day out, year after year. Keeyask has ended up as a money loser, especially if directed to exports.

In 2021, Manitoba Hydro reported an average export price of about 5.6 cents, reflecting combined firm and spot sales. Even if we were to get double that price, which is highly unlikely, Keeyask would still not break even.

Problems with obscenely high costs of hydroelectric dams are not unique to Manitoba either, with scandals erupting in both B.C., regarding Site-C, and in Newfoundland and Labrador, regarding Muskrat Falls.

A significant concern with Lett’s article is that some people invariably will interpret comments as erroneous justification for more big projects. Building new power dams, notably Conawapa, would be ill-advised, just as it was with Keeyask. New expensive dams are also unnecessary even if the province were to move more aggressively toward electrification.

We have all the energy we need already. The likely consequence of Conawapa or any other new large dam, given a track record of excessively high costs, would be to push us toward bankruptcy.

Robert Parsons