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Letters to the Editor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1 March 2000
We all pay Hydro' s social costs

Fred Cleverley's article about Manitoba Hydro, while compelling, misleads readers about the economics of hydroelectric development (Keep hands off Hydro profits, Free Press, Feb. 14). If Manitoba Hydro wants to enjoy economic growth and practise sound environmental practices, it will figure its cost share of ecological restoration (agreed to under the Northern Flood Agreement) into its budgeting. Then, while looking to maintain profitability of Hydro, it will be forced to integrate the ecological and social "cost of doing business" into its planning.

Hydro was one of the partners to the NFA, and it is high time it began to live up to its agreement. The recent announcement of a $9-million recreation centre for Cross Lake was a start. The expansion of Hydro without looking at ecological restoration and social costs is dubious accounting, at best. Why don't they consider energy efficiency auditing services -- wind, solar, and biogas? The Smithfield hog plant is a ripe opportunity to develop biogas capacity. While it might appear that Hydro is cheaper than the alternatives, there shouldn't be any costly legal, environmental or social costs to deal with down the road. Manitobans might pay cheap Hydro bills now, but we can all be sure that we will end up paying the full costs of social and ecological reparations sooner or later.

CHANDA L. MEEK
Winnipeg