On 1 February, Sierra Club issued a press release stating that it had
written to Northern States Power, Minnesota Power, Public Service
Corporation of Wisconsin and Manitoba Hydro. Here is MP's response:
on Minnesota Power's letterhead ... to the chair of Sierra Club's
February 1, 2000
Thank you for your thoughtful letter of January 5 expressing the Sierra
Club's concerns about Manitoba Hydro's development of hydropower. In
response to your request for an indication that Minnesota Power is making
efforts to reduce the impact of U.S. electrical energy demand on Canada,
rather than increasing it, I offer the following observations:
1. Since the 1970's Minnesota Power has promoted conservation, through both
customer information programs and financial incentives, out of the
conviction that conservation is of both immediate and long-range benefit to
all concerned: utility, customers, the public and the environment. Our
larger customers have been especially responsive to our conservation
programs and we expect to continue these efforts. Unfortunately, residential
customers have been less responsive in spite of our initiatives.
2. Minnesota Power, through the Electric Power Research Instittue and in
other agreements with other electric utilities, is constantly seeking ways
alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power can be made
economically feasible. While progress is being made, thus far, they remain
neither economically feasible nor practical. Furthermore, "Green Power" is
not broadly desired.
3. To the extent that Minnesota Power's purchases affect the environment and
people, you can be certain that a lack of low-cost, dependable electric
power for our customers would have a great social impact on many people.
The effects would initially be economic, but as becomes clearer every day,
negative economic effects are merely the first step that eventually widens
to include social and environmental degradation.
4. Man has been altering the face of North America for hundreds of years,
and never without affecting the way people live. This is a fact of life. We
must be aware of our actions and attempt to work cooperatively to do what we
can to remedy and minimize the damage that results from them.
5. Although we recognize that our imports ultimately affect the environment
of northern Manitoba and the region's native citizens (as do our imports
from other provinces and states), your letter and accompanying Fact Sheet
offer no substantive evidence that Manitoba Hydro would not have launched
and would not continue its hydroelectric power development program without
the prospect of selling energy to Minnesota Power. In the big picture,
Minnesota Power imports very little hydropower from Manitoba. Conversely, we
do provide energy to Manitoba, usually during the winter months.
Of the utilities named in your Fact Sheet, Minnesota Power is headquarteed
in and serves the region with the most delicate environment and also the one
with the highest concentration of native Americans, [sic] so we are quite
knowledgeable of the concerns of the Sierra Club and The Sierra Club of/du
Canada. You may be assured we will continue to do all we reasonably can to
address those concerns where we think they are valid and consistent with our
social and economic responsibilities to the constituents we serve.
In summary, Minnesota Power has no current plan to increase the amount of
hydropower we import from Manitoba. We work hard to provide our customers
with low cost energy, most of which comes from steam generation. Our concern
for the environment and the implication of our policies to serve our
customers responsibly is [sic] well documented.
Edwin L. Russell [CEO]