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Manitoba Hydro gets rate increase to support generation, transmission projects

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Manitoba Hydro gets rate increase to support generation, transmission projects

Manitoba's provincial utilities regulator will allow government-ownedManitoba Hydro a 3.36%rate increase effective Aug. 1 that will help support the company's growth in generationand transmission infrastructure.

The increase granted by the Public Utilities Board is expectedto add C$2.83 per month to a typical household bill that uses a fuel other thanelectricity for heat, Manitoba Hydro said in an April 28 statement. For customersusing electric heat, which is common outside the main cities in the province, theincrease will be C$5.41 per month.

The rate increase is less than a 3.95% interim hike sought by the utility in December. ManitobaHydro said then it needed more cash to maintain 2016-2017 net income and financialratios at acceptable levels. The Winnipeg-based company said the lower increaseis acceptable.

"We are pleased with today's order issued by the PUB,"Manitoba Hydro CEO Kelvin Shepherd said in the statement. "The PUB continuesto recognize the need for moderate, predictable annual rate increases over a numberof years."

Manitoba Hydro has a number of projects underway to improve thereliability of its transmission grid and to boost exports of its abundant hydroelectricpower to the U.S. and neighboring provinces. The company is developing the C$6.5billion Keeyask (Gull)hydro project and has signed export salescontracts from the plant totaling more than C$4 billion.  Power from the project will be delivered by a high-voltage, direct current lineknown as Bipole III. The company is also developing a high-voltage line to carrypower to Minnesota.

A change of government in Manitoba could have a bearing on thefuture direction of the province-owned utility. On April 19, the right-leaning ProgressiveConservative Party led by Brian Pallister ousted the socialist New Democratic Partywhich had governed the province for nearly 17 years. Pallister's government, includinga new minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro, will be sworn in May 3. The speechfrom the throne, which will set the new government's legislative agenda, will bedelivered May 16.