Winnipeg Free Press

Re: New estimate pegs Keeyask cost at $2.2 billion higher (March 7)

With news of yet another price increase of $2.2 billion and years more delay for the Keeyask dam, one might well ask, "When, if ever, will Manitoba Hydro finally stop bleeding billions of dollars in cost overruns?"

Our premier has played Pontius Pilate with Hydro by just handing its huge financial woes over to the new board to deal with. Brian Pallister himself flatly reneged on his pre-election promises to halt Hydro capital spending and to conduct a government review of this ailing (and largest) Crown corporation. The Boston Consulting report, commissioned by the board, for the most part just rubber-stamped plans so Hydro spending could continue unabated. This is what Hydro has done with a vengeance, as illustrated by the latest eye-watering cost increases for Keeyask.

With ongoing complacency and inaction by the Progressive Conservative government and the Hydro board, all citizens of Manitoba will soon be suffering, not only with the prospect of double increases in power bills, but also with many jobs disappearing because of new financial hardships of employers. These financial hardships — likely to hit, for example, more than 40,000 small businesses in Manitoba — will come about from rising interest rates and an almost inevitable further downgrade of the province’s credit rating. As S&P Global stated last summer, after their last downgrade, "Manitoba Hydro is no longer being considered self-supporting, thereby placing the province at risk for further credit rating downgrades." The latest blowout of Keeyask costs will certainly foster and encourage the next major downgrade, which is due this summer.

With apparent ongoing lack of resolve to help turn around Hydro — especially at the place where the buck stops with government — perhaps the people of this province should initiate their own independent citizens enquiry to shed some new light on how best to keep our lights on?