Xcel Energy, a utility based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has signed a 10-year contract to purchase about US$1.1B of electricity from Manitoba Hydro between 2005 and 2015. The contract replaces an existing 12-year agreement that expires in 2005.

Manitoba Hydro, a Canadian provincially owned utility based in Winnipeg, develops 99% of its power from hydro power plants. It said the new contract assures the sale of nearly all of the extra power that the utility expects to have available up to 2005, while additional power from new dams might be needed later in the decade to keep up with demand for power in Manitoba or for additional sales to the US.

The utility, in partnership with First Nations, is looking at new hydro developments in northern Manitoba to meet future demand.

Manitoba Hydro is identifying environmental concerns and negotiating with the Nisichawayasihk Cree regarding a possible 200MW power plant on the Burntwood river to be completed around 2009 at a cost of about US$381M.