Manitoba Hydro recently released its first-ever Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which shows electrical demand in the province could more than double in the next 20 years – and new sources of electricity could be needed within the next decade.

“The 2023 IRP makes it clear that the move towards low- or no-carbon energy sources will accelerate the need for clean electricity,” said Jay Grewal, President and CEO of Manitoba Hydro. “Meeting these needs will require significant investments and the pace of those investments could put upward pressure on the cost of supplying electricity to Manitobans. We are, however, committed to continuing to serve our customers and to be ready for whatever these changes may bring.”

Grewal said Manitoba’s legacy of clean, safe, renewable hydropower and reliable natural gas service puts the province at an advantage as it prepares for the future.

Manitoba Hydro’s 2023 IRP is the result of a two-year development process to understand the factors driving change in Manitoba’s energy landscape and what it means for the supply and delivery of electricity and natural gas. Multiple rounds of engagement with customers and interested parties were completed, plus extensive modelling and analysis on a range of potential future scenarios informed by those conversations.

The IRP also considers how existing and potential government actions at all levels are impacting the energy landscape, including the Province of Manitoba’s recently released Manitoba Energy Roadmap.

“The energy transition has already started,” Grewal said. “More customers are considering buying electric vehicles, some businesses are taking steps to decarbonize their operations, and governments – at federal, provincial, and municipal levels – are taking or contemplating actions that will further drive the transition.”

While not a development plan, the IRP outlines how Manitoba Hydro will monitor, prepare for, and respond to this transition and the changes in the energy landscape in the years ahead.

“The process of developing this IRP and the conversations we’ve had throughout confirmed the importance of working together with the broader energy planning community – including governments, regulators, Efficiency Manitoba, Indigenous communities, other interested parties and most importantly you, our customers – to understand and chart a path forward,” said Grewal.

“We support Manitoba’s Energy Roadmap including the recommendation for coordinated governance between Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro and Efficiency Manitoba with the Public Utilities Board to provide policy advice to government. Specifically, there is an opportunity to establish the clearer roles, authorities and energy-related expertise that will allow us to effectively navigate a more complex energy future – together.”

The IRP shows Manitoba can leverage its clean energy advantage through additional energy efficiency measures to get the most out of the energy we already have. Additional wind generation could also be a cost-effective energy choice that can play a role in getting to a low carbon future.

Edward Kennedy, Chair of the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board, said the utility needs to consider diverse options for new electrical energy sources to meet the future energy needs.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to protect our low power rates, especially for those who are most vulnerable to rate increases, while adding new resources that will power our path to electrification,” said Kennedy. “Energy savings will be a big part of this picture, recognizing that our existing Hydro base, although renewable, needs to be considered as a precious, finite source of energy.”