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Xcel deal with Manitoba Hydro approved

An effort by several native and environmental groups to persuade the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) in the US to cancel a power purchase agreement with the Canadan utility Manitoba Hydro has been unsuccessful.

MPUC approved Xcel Energy’s selection of three companies to supply power to it in the coming years, and rejected all requests to hold off on endorsing a final deal with Manitoba Hydro until an investigation is undertaken on the socio-economic costs of hydroelectric plants.

The Pimicikamak Cree Nation and several environmental organisations argued that Manitoba Hydro’s system of dams has caused catastrophic damage to the ecosystem north of Lake Winnipeg and to aboriginal groups who live there. They also questioned whether Manitoba Hydro was supplying Xcel and Minnesota consumers with the ‘clean energy’ it claims to be producing. However, the MPUC ruled that solutions to any problems with a 1977 deal involving Manitoba Hydro and five Cree bands, including the Pimicikamak, should be pursued through the Canadian utility in Canada. The MPUC decision allows Xcel to sign a deal with Manitoba Hydro for a supply of 500MW from 2005 to 2015.