Hydro looks to cut costs to curb financial losses
A leaked internal document has shown that Manitoba Hydro is facing a financial loss from its first quarter and is looking to cut costs.
The exact figure for the losses isn't expected to be known for a few weeks.
In an internal memo sent to employees last week, Hydro officials outlined major cost-cutting measures to try to avoid passing the loss on to customers.
Hydro officials promised service won't be impacted.
"We won't cut anything that's important to the system so all we're trying to do is take a stronger look and defer what we can," said Bob Brennan, president and CEO of Manitoba Hydro.
The measures include a mandatory reduction in overtime, a hiring freeze and a tightening up of vacation-banking policies. If those measures don't produce the savings needed, a management salary freeze could be the next step.
The official opposition blames the financial shortfall on the NDP having Manitoba Hydro build its new transmission line Bipole III down the west side of Lake Winnipeg, which is nearly 500 kilometres longer than an east-side route and comes at an extra cost, estimated by some to be hundreds of millions more.
"What we don't want is to see Hydro used as a place for the government to turn to get cash every time they make a mess of their operation budgets," said Hugh McFadyen, leader of the provincial Progressive Conservative party.
Hydro officials previously said they picked the proposed route over other options because it had the least impact on residents and the environment.
Hydro officials also attributed the first-quarter loss to tough economic times and said Americans won't pay as much for hydro.
The province's energy minister said the Tories are engaging in nothing more than political posturing.
"Traditionally, Hydro in the first quarter doesn't make much money. They make up their money in the third and forth quarter during the winter period," said Dave Chomiak, the province's minister of innovation energy and mines.
An upcoming Public Utilities Board review of Hydro will examine the financial troubles. No information on a date for the review has been released, but CTV News was told it would likely be within the next few months.
A whistleblower who previously came forward alleging Hydro is selling power to American customers too cheaply and exporting more than it can produce is not scheduled to speak at that meeting, but that could change.
- with a report from CTV's Laura Lowe