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Walden Firm Against PNW Power Rate Increases

by News Sources, February 9, 2005

2006 Budget would artificially hike Bonneville Power Administration rates

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, today personally registered to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman his firm objection to the Administration’s new budget proposal effecting Power Marketing Authorities (PMAs) throughout the nation, one of which is the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). BPA supplies energy to families and businesses throughout the Northwest.

The proposal, which would require PMA customers to pay market rates for their power, rather than the current cost-based rates, would equate to as much as a 20 percent increase per year in costs, and would be a major blow to individuals, farmers, ranchers and small businesses throughout the Pacific Northwest.

“Mr. Secretary, the notion that this Administration is going to propose taking PMAs wherever they are into full market rates is a notion that would spread economic devastation in our region. We already have the highest unemployment rates in the nation in Oregon and Washington, and we’re not booming out there attracting jobs, we’re wanting to hold on to the ones we have,” said Walden.

Recently sworn-in Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, today testified before the full House Committee on Energy and Commerce about the President’s 2006 budget proposal for the Department of Energy, providing Walden a chance to directly express his strong discontent with the plan.

The proposal also includes provisions affecting the current bonding authority given to the BPA, reducing the funds necessary to build out the power grid in order to have the ability to supply power to customers throughout the region.

“As you know a number of years ago we ran into constraints and bottlenecks in trying to get power where it is needed…and so [the northwest] delegation has worked with the President to expand the bonding authority to build out the grid so we don’t have a bottleneck for power delivery,” continued

Walden. “This proposal that’s buried in the budget would basically diminish that authority at a time when that’s the last thing we need for a reliable and sufficient grid in the Northwest.”

“I appreciate the education,” said Secretary Bodman in response to Walden’s statement. “There is no doubt that it will adversely impact to varying degrees, some frankly not very much, but I have no doubt other individuals will be affected much more.”

On Monday, upon learning about the proposal to require BPA and other PMAs to pay market rates, rather than cost-based, for power, Walden said, “It makes absolutely no sense to artificially and substantially jack up power rates, especially in a part of the country that has suffered from other misguided federal land management policies costing tens of thousands of jobs throughout rural areas in the last 20 years. I will use every tool at my disposal to put a stop to the BPA rate increase.”

Walden, who serves on the House Subcommittee on Water and Power and the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, is also co-chair of the House Northwest Energy Caucus and vice chair of the House Renewable Energy Caucus, both bipartisan organizations.

Congressman Walden represents the Second District of Oregon, which includes 20 counties in the southern, central and eastern regions of the state. He is a Deputy Whip in the House leadership structure and a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as the Committee on Resources.

News Sources
Walden Firm Against PNW Power Rate Increases, February 9, 2005

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