Energy Matters – June 2017

Power Smart tip

Proper insulation will keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter.

Hydro is more than a name

Every country has an energy utility, but only in Canada are they almost exclusively called “Hydro”.

Manitoba Hydro, BC Hydro, HydroOne, Hydro-Québec. What’s in a name?

Well, about 60 per cent of all electricity in Canada is generated through hydroelectric means – making the nation a world leader in total hydro production second only to China. A new report by the National Energy Board also said Canada generates as much electricity as countries with higher populations – including Germany and France.

Hydroelectric generation has been the main source of power in Canada for more than a century. Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador use hydro to meet most of their electricity demand. Ontario relies on hydro for about 25 per cent of its electricity.

What’s hydropower? It’s energy created by water moving through a turbine connected to a generator. The amount of energy produced depends on water volume and speed — the more and faster the water, the more energy produced.

In Manitoba, we generate 97 per cent of our electricity with self-renewing water power at 15 hydroelectric generating stations, primarily on the Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Burntwood and Nelson rivers.

With additional generation from two wind farms in southern Manitoba, 99 per cent of the electricity produced in Manitoba comes from renewable sources.

The recent National Energy Board report, called Canada’s Adoption of Renewable Power Sources, said other renewables like wind, solar and biomass play only modest roles in the country’s electricity generation. The portion of all electricity in Canada generated by renewables is now 66 per cent, up from 60 per cent a decade ago.

The report also said Canada’s electricity prices are relatively low compared to many other countries.

Consumers in Germany and Denmark pay more than twice as much as Canadians for each kilowatt hour of electricity. However, consumers in those countries use less electricity per capita than in Canada, so their total electricity bills are not that much higher.

“Canadian electricity prices are among the lowest in the world, making it difficult for relatively expensive non-hydro renewable sources to compete,” the report said.

The report also said a major benefit of hydroelectricity is its reliability. Hydroelectric plants produce electricity on demand and ensure a reliable supply in contrast to intermittent sources of renewable energy such as wind and solar.

Hydro, wind, and solar generation also create few or no carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

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Outdoor safety for do-it-yourself projects

Summer is here, the birds are chirping and it’s a great time to take on outdoor projects.

Before you build that new deck, shed, gazebo or tree house for your kids — or dig a new flower garden — make sure you aren’t about to hit a natural gas line or electric cable.

Before the shovel hits the dirt, send a locate request to ClickBeforeYouDigMB or call 1-800-940-3447 to mark the underground natural gas line and electrical service at least three full work days before you begin any project. Also make sure your handiwork doesn’t block the natural gas meter or emergency gas valve – these services must be readily accessible.

And don’t forget to look up for power lines in your work area. Always assume overhead power lines are energized.

Before beginning work, inspect your power tools thoroughly before plugging in. Check for wear, breakage and loose connections. Repair or replace any new tools you may need. Also ensure your tools are properly grounded with a three-prong plug. Never break off the third prong so the plug will fit an outlet; have an electrician install a new outlet instead.

And always use a heavy duty extension cord with your tools. Check cords for damage and loose plugs. If a cord feels warm while in use, replace it. When you finish using your power tool, never pull the cord from the outlet; pull it by the plug – this prevents wear and a possible shock.

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I want to make it home, too!

The 2017 SAFE Roads campaign asks Manitoba drivers to slow down and respect the safety of all those who work on or near our province’s roadways during the busy summer construction season.

The theme of this year’s campaign is I Want to Make it Home, Too!, reminding drivers to use extra care where workers are present. The message will appear on billboards, transit buses and other advertisements featuring emergency responders and flag persons.

The Manitoba Heavy Construction Association says 84 per cent of people aware of the SAFE Roads campaign become more considerate and understanding of workers and their designated work zones.

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