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Economic and dam related articles

BPA's Reservoir of Cash Pays Off

by Julia Anderson
The Columbian, October 19, 2009

Federal utility meets debt obligations despite poor economy, low water

A view of Bonneville Dam, one of the hydroelectric facilities operated by the Bonneville Power Administration. (The Columbian) Despite a poor economic year, the Portland-based Bonneville Power Administration paid the U.S. Treasury $845.1 million in principal and interest for fiscal 2009, which ended Sept. 31.

The money is a return on the federal government's investment in dams, transmission system, fish and wildlife projects and other capital projects on the Columbia-Snake river system. BPA Administrator Steve Wright, in a prepared press release Monday, credited BPA staff and its customers with helping the agency "build the financial reserves in previous years that helped the agency weather a tough financial year due to low water and poor economic conditions."

BPA also paid $46.3 million in other obligations, including $32.7 million to fund a BPA employee retirement benefit programs.

BPA is a nonprofit federal electric utility that operates a high-voltage transmission grid comprising more than 15,000 miles of lines and associated substations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. It also markets more than a third of the electricity consumed in the Pacific Northwest.

The power is produced at 31 federal hydroelectric dams operated by the U.S. Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation and one nuclear plant in the Northwest. The power is sold to more than 140 Northwest utilities including Clark Public Utilities. BPA purchases power from seven wind projects and has more than 2,200 megawatts of wind interconnected to its transmission system.

The agency's payment to the treasury department included $432 million in principal and $366.8 million in interest. This is the agency's 26th consecutive annual payment to the federal treasury.

BPA's 2008 operating revenue totaled $3 billion in 2008 with expenses of $2.54 billion.

Julia Anderson
BPA's Reservoir of Cash Pays Off
The Columbian, October 19, 2009

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