BPA Announcing US Northwest
LOS ANGELES, - The Bonneville Power Administration said on Tuesday it will announce this spring 20-year allotments of low-cost hydroelectric power to the utilities it serves in the Pacific Northwest.
The federal BPA, which expects to generate an average of between 8,151 megawatts and 8,467 MW over the next 10 years, supplies about 35 percent to 40 percent of the power used in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana.
The public utilities, investor-owned utilities and big power users like aluminum-makers are now making their cases for the amount of power the BPA will allot so they can make decisions on how to procure the rest of the electricity they will need from 2011-2031, said BPA spokesman Scott Simms.
"We're proposing to work with parties for a clear roadmap beginning this spring, so the utilities and other parties have the proper signals (from BPA) to meet their own needs," Simms said.
The BPA operates 31 hydroelectric dams and one nuclear power plant. The power it generates tends to cost less to produce than natural gas-fired plants.
The Pacific Northwest is forecast to have "modest regional power surpluses through 2016," recent studies by the BPA and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council show. But this account includes about 3,360 megawatts of average generation -- 15 percent of the region's total demand -- from the Northwest's independent power producers, Simms said.
The BPA does not know how much of the generation from independent power producers is available to the region. Most of it is generally sold in short-term deals along the West Coast.
How much is sold into California and how much stays in the Northwest will go a long way to determining price volatility and power reliability in the Northwest, the BPA said.
If all 3,360 MW were sold outside the Northwest, the region would have a near-term deficit of about 1,300 MW, Simms said.
He would not be more precise than "spring" about when the BPA allotments will be announced. The ultimate decision on the allotments will be made by BPA Administrator Steve Wright.
"The bottom line is that the Northwest should not gamble on its energy future. Adequate power supplies are necessary to fuel the region's economy," Wright said. "Given the lead time needed to develop new energy infrastructure, now is the time to be making critical decisions about our electricity future."
The biggest single buyer of BPA power is the public utility Snohomish County Public Utility District in Washington, but its buyers also include big investor-owned utilities like Puget Sound Energy and Portland General Electric.
The current allotments extend to the end of the federal fiscal year in 2011.
Electricity reliability in the Northwest is largely dependent on how much water is available for hydropower generation.
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