Large Scale Hydroelectric Power

Including Manitoba Hydro Power in the Definition of Renewable Energy

Background: Several Wisconsin-based electric utilities have been openly advocating for the State of Wisconsin to expand the definition of renewable energy to include hydro power produced from large scale hydro electric dams in Manitoba Canada.

WICEC Position:
WICEC opposes including large scale hydroelectric power produced by Manitoba Canada in the definition of renewable energy in Wisconsin.

Justification:

Effects on Indigenous People – The construction of new hydro-electric dams would flood thousands of acres of land in Manitoba , Canada currently inhabited by Canada ’s First Nations. The ecosystems that would be destroyed are the traditional homes and hunting lands of The First Nations and hold deep spiritual significance to the tribes who inhabit the region. Existing hydro-electric dams in the area have already displaced whole communities of natives, those displaced communities now have abnormally high poverty, suicide rates and a diminished quality of life. Building new hydro-electric dams in Manitoba without the full consent of all First Nation tribes would continue to perpetuate the centuries old systematic mistreatment of Native Americans throughout North America .

Environmental Impacts – Large scale hydro-electric dams have a significant impact on surrounding ecosystems. The construction of large dams will flood thousands of acres of valuable wildlife habitat, disrupt aquatic life by permanently altering the flow of the river and destroy forest land currently working to sequester carbon in the soil. The full environmental impact of large scale hydro power should be taken into consideration into any decision to construct new hydro-electric facilities.

Energy Independence – Wisconsin currently spends tens of billions of dollars importing energy from outside our State’s borders. Manufacturing, installing and maintaining renewable energy sources in Wisconsin has the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs and develop pathways out of poverty for low income individuals and families across the State. Continuing to rely on electricity generated outside Wisconsin and the United States like Manitoba hydro power will create far fewer local jobs desperately needed across our state. Whenever possible, Wisconsin should keep energy generation local to stimulate Wisconsin economies as well as provide local environmental and public health benefits associated with renewable energy generation.

** Note: Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois do not allow electricity produced by hydro-electric dams in Manitoba to count toward their renewable energy mandates.

November 9, 2009

 

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Dr. Peter Bakken, State Coordinator
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