"That is a good number of options from which to choose," says the utility's Glenn Schneider. "We are very pleased about that. If we had a much smaller number obviously it would make the selection perhaps easier, but also not as rewarding in the sense of getting a broad spectrum of projects to choose from."
Manitoba Hydro is now evaluating the proposals. "Assessing this number of proposals thoroughly and fairly is obviously a major undertaking. We expect to complete this work within a couple of months and decide on the next steps," says CEO Bob Brennan.
The utility plans to export the power and will buy the full 300 MW only if it is deemed to be economic. "It is not that we absolutely have to have 300 MW. If we get proposals that are not economic from our point of view, we may not proceed with the full 300 MW. But we are expecting we should be able to get 300 MW for the right price," Schneider says. He declines to say what that price would be.
The RFP also invited proponents to submit "alternative proposals" laying out possible component manufacturing, technology transfer, research and development, or other value-added investments in the province. The utility did receive some pitches for industrial and manufacturing offsets, says Schneider, but is not releasing any details. If any are accepted, he says, they will be dealt with under separate contracts from the power. "It was not indicated in the RFP but I suspect the government would be involved with that," he says.
The government-owned utility issued the RFP in March. The deadline for proposals was July 17. It plans to issue three further RFPs for 200 MW each between 2013 and 2018.