SOURCE: Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Canadian Taxpayers Federation

September 24, 2014 11:45 ET

Provincial Auditor Needs to Investigate Bipole Cost

Trail of Leaked Documents Shows Hydro Consistently Calculated One Estimate Internally for Bipole, Told Manitobans Another Story

WINNIPEG, MB--(Marketwired - September 24, 2014) - The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), Bipole III Coalition and Manitoba Forward today called on the Provincial Auditor's Office today to investigate Manitoba Hydro's revolving door of estimates related to the new Bipole III transmission line project.

Hydro's latest $4.6 billion cost estimate for the project comes after years of denying leaked documents that suggested the project was in the $4 billion range. For years, Hydro insisted on lower estimates of $2.2 billion and $3.3 billion.

"All these cost overrun announcements by Manitoba Hydro ultimately mean higher rates for Manitobans," said CTF Prairie Director Colin Craig. "The Auditor needs to investigate why Manitoba Hydro kept telling Manitobans one story while calculating higher costs behind closed doors."

"Hydro knew Bipole III would likely exceed $4 billion years ago, far before the last election. Yet the utility and the government clung to much lower estimates for years," said Graham Lane, former Chair of the Public Utilities Board and a member of Manitoba Forward. "When they recently sought approvals from the Public Utilities Board, and the Clean Environment Commission, they presented a rosier picture than the facts now show. Ratepayers need to hold on tight."

"Manitoba Hydro received approval to proceed with its massive expansion plan based on low-balled figures," said Garland Laliberte, former Dean of Engineering at the University of Manitoba and Vice-President of the Bipole III Coalition. "Manitoba Hydro has no legitimate basis to proceed. Rates will now need to be higher than Hydro has suggested."

The three organizations are hoping that a Provincial Auditor's review can explain why Manitoba Hydro kept calculating internal numbers that were billions higher than what the public was told. The groups also believe the public deserves answers on who knew what, when they were told and details on other surprises that haven't been communicated to the public.

COST OVERRUN CHRONOLOGY:

January 31, 2011 - CTF released a leaked Manitoba Hydro document that showed the Bipole III project is expected to cost $4.1 billion, not the $2.2 billon the government had been telling the public. The leaked document came with a note saying "Mr. Brennan, our president did not approve this estimate, and is now moving costs to other accounts to reduce the $4.1 billion number." Hydro denied the estimate and stood by $2.2 billion figure.

March 18, 2011 - A second leaked Manitoba Hydro document surfaced and showed Manitoba Hydro had pegged the project at $3.9 billion as early as 2009. The government stood by its position that the project is $2.2 billion.

March 31, 2011 - Hydro admitted the cost increased to $3.3 billion.

October 4, 2011 - Manitoba election

September 2014 - Hydro concedes the Bipole III project will cost $4.6 billion.

Contact Information

  • For more information:
    Colin Craig
    Prairie Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation
    O: 1-800-772-9955
    C: 204-227-5561
    ccraig@taxpayer.com