Manitoba Hydro will decommission its thermal Selkirk Generating Station over the coming years, putting an end to the unique story of a 1950s-era coal-fired power plant which was later converted to natural gas.
Selkirk has operated as an emergency supply for the utility in cold months, while Manitoba Hydro relies on its 96-percent renewable hydroelectric power most of the time. Completion of several major projects—the Bipole III and Manitoba-Minnesota transmission projects, as well as the soon-to-be-operational, 695-MW Keeyask hydroelectric plant (shown earlier in construction phase)—have rendered Selkirk obsolete.
“Our system is such now that it no longer makes economic or environmental sense for Manitoba Hydro to maintain and operate the Selkirk station,” said Shane Mailey, Vice President of Operations at Manitoba Hydro. “We can supply more than enough power with our hydroelectric stations. We no longer need the extra capacity Selkirk Generating Station provides.”
Closing the natural gas-powered station will save an estimated $5 million a year and lower average greenhouse gas emissions by about five kilotonnes annually, the utility reported.
Selkirk Generating Station was completed and operational in 1960. It operated as a coal-fired plant for four decades, then converted to burn natural gas in 2002.
Manitoba Hydro is the province’s major energy utility, serving 586,795 electric customers in Manitoba and 284,996 natural gas customers in southern Manitoba. About 96 percent of the electricity the company produces is generated at 15 hydroelectric stations on the Nelson, Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Burntwood and Laurie rivers.