Budget asks $700 Million in BPA Loansby Tom Detzel, The Oregonian staff
The Oregonian, January 29, 2002
The amount is far less than the $2 billion Northwest lawmakers tried to secure for BPA last year. The effort ran into objections from the White House budget office and appropriations Chairman Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.
Bush will release his budget Feb. 4. The BPA line item was confirmed Monday by Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith's office. Smith and Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, had pushed to include the money.
Smith spokesman Chris Matthews called it a "major shift for the Bush administration," which last year claimed BPA didn't need the money right away.
Bonneville has about $750 million left unused in a $3.75 billion line of credit from the Treasury. The agency operates 80 percent of the region's high-voltage lines and has identified $2 billion worth of transmission and other needs.
Smith and other lawmakers will probably try to increase the $700 million figure as the budget moves through Congress. Support for the added borrowing also comes from utilities and merchant power companies.
The utilities depend on BPA's lines to buy and sell power, but congestion is increasing. Bonneville had to curtail sales last year from Montana power plants and has had to warn Puget Sound customers that deliveries might be interrupted.
"We have bottlenecks all over the region right now that are due simply to growth," said BPA spokesman Ed Mosey.
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