BPA Filing Comes Under Criticismby Erik Siemers
Sustainable Business Oregon, March 30, 2012
The Bonneville Power Administration on Friday filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a set of proposed terms and conditions to allow power generators access to its transmission system.
Though Portland-based federal agency BPA hailed the filing -- called a tariff -- as the result of a year-long collaborative public process that narrowed areas of disagreement with stakeholders, it was met with significant opposition.
By filing the tariff under so-called "voluntary provisions," critics claim BPA could withdraw or amend its rules without regulatory oversight, leading to uncertainty for businesses in the region.
"There are two things businesses want to know: That there ... will be availability of transmission and if they sign up for transmission service and have a contract with Bonneville that they're going to get (the energy) delivered," said Rachel Shimshak, executive director of the Portland-based Renewable Northwest Project, a renewable power advocacy group. "The uncertainty comes because Bonneville was not respecting those agreements and treated its own generation in favor of non-federal generation."
On Dec. 7, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a ruling saying BPA unfairly discriminated against a class of power generators. The commission said BPA provided preferential service to itself by curtailing third-party wind power developers in favor of power generated from its own hydroelectric dams.
In a news release Friday, BPA said it issued its tariff under voluntary provisions established by FERC that have been used by the BPA since 1996. It acknowledged that some parties have argued that FERC's Dec. 7 ruling implies that BPA must file under mandatory provisions. BPA officials have asked the commission to clarify the matter.
BPA spokesman Doug Johnson, though, notes that the tariff includes language that changes can be made only if FERC finds them reasonable and not discriminatory.
"That's something we continue to be bound by," he said.
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