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BPA F&W Spending Tops
$13 Billion Since 1978

by Bill Rudolph
NW Fishletter, June 4, 2013

Since 1978, BPA's Fish and Wildlife spending has topped $13 billion -- excluding $2.27 billion in capital investments and $1.79 billion in federal credits -- according to the newest draft report for Northwest governors being written by staffers at the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. The Council is accepting comments on the draft report until June 7.

The study says BPA accrued $2.9 billion in forgone hydropower sales revenue since 1978, revenue that was not collected because of reduced power operations for fish passage.

Bonneville also spent $3.57 billion on the Council's direct program (with capital investments), and $2.12 billion in fixed expenses for interest, amortization, and depreciation. Another $1.25 billion has been used to fund Corps and Bureau of Reclamation fish and wildlife projects predating the 1980 Northwest Power Act. Bonneville pays the hydropower share on these, consistent with the Power Act.

BPA's fish and wildlife costs added up to $644.1 million for FY 2012, with nearly $249 million for its direct program. In FY 2011, F&W costs reached just over $650 million.

According to the draft report, 2012 forgone revenues amounted to $152.2 million, while another $38.5 million was spent on power purchases when fish operations like dam spill were in place. In 2011, forgone power sales added up to $157 million, with $71 million in power purchases.

Direct F&W costs reached nearly $249 million, with another $73 million in direct costs and reimbursements to the Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for fish passage and hatcheries. Another $131.5 million went to interest, amortization, and depreciation of capital investments (hatcheries, dam fish passage facilities, and land purchases for F&W habitat).

The draft report said the $644.1-million total doesn't include 2012's annual capital investments, which are funded by congressional appropriations and repaid by Bonneville. These investments totaled $57.5 million for F&W program-related projects and $114.5 million for associated federal projects. The latter included capital investments at dams operated by the Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation.

"Including them in the same total as fixed costs would double-count some of the capital investment," said the report. The $644.1-million total also does not include a $77-million Treasury credit related to 2012 F&W costs.

The draft report said direct F&W costs made up 23 percent of BPA's $2.7 billion in Power Business Line costs (which included forgone revenue). After a Council flap last year that lasted for months over how to count forgone revenue, this year's draft report contains language that was first added to last year's report, after several Council members raised questions about the accuracy of fish costs. They were echoing an old theme from conservation groups, who had argued for years that forgone revenues should not be counted with F&W costs.

"Bonneville sets its rates at a level sufficient to recover its revenue requirement during the rate period, currently about $30 per megawatt-hour," says the draft report. "The revenue requirement is an estimate of future costs and revenues, including fish and wildlife expenses and anticipated secondary power sales, debt service and other costs. Fish and wildlife obligations account for about one-third of the revenue requirement that Bonneville collects in its power rates. This is different from the percentage of Bonneville's Power Business Line costs that are attributed to fish and wildlife activities, described above."

The draft report shows that costs for BiOp-related programs went up in 2012, to $162 million from $143.5 million in 2011. About half of more than $116 million in spending to tribal contractors went to the four lower Columbia tribes.

State F&W agencies all received more BPA dollars for projects last year than in 2011. Idaho Fish and Game received $17.8 million, up from $10.8 million. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife got $15.8 million, up from $10.2 million. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife got $11.6 million, up from $9.1 million in 2011. Montana's Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks received $2.8 million, up from $2.4 million in 2011.

Related Sites:
Draft Report, Northwest Power and Conservation Council

Bill Rudolph
BPA F&W Spending Tops $13 Billion Since 1978
NW Fishletter, June 4, 2013

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