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Economic and dam related articles

PUD Had Hoped for
Even Lower Rate from Bonneville

by Staff & News Sources
The Daily World, July 18, 2006

Long-range plan could force local utilities to build their own power plants

The Bonneville Power Administration announced Monday it expects to cut wholesale power rates for the fourth consecutive year.

While Grays Harbor PUD officials are pleased with the news, they remain convinced that rates could have gone even lower.

The BPA plans to set its 2007 wholesale rates at $27.33 per megawatt hour - a reduction of 3 percent from current levels and a total of about 10 percent lower than the rates proposed eight months ago.

"This is outstanding. We've been working for several months to achieve just what we've achieved," PUD Manager Rick Lovely said this morning.

Final rates will be announced in September and go into effect Oct. 1, the beginning of the 2007 federal fiscal year.

Steve Wright, BPA administrator and chief executive, reserved much of his praise for local utility managers "as we take on new challenges to ensure an adequate power supply for the Pacific Northwest in the long term."

Grays Harbor PUD Commissioner Tom Casey said, "Certainly we're reasonably satisfied that they came at least close to $27, which is what we were telling them they could do. When we came up with $27, we knew we were being conservative. I thought all along they could make $24, but $27 is something we could push for."

"I still think there's more we can do. There's a lot of policy goals that we need to reach that will be very meaningful to ratepayers if we can get there," he added.

Lovely agreed. "We believe that there are ways that Bonneville could go lower, but at this time, Bonneville doesn't choose to do so. We'll just continue the work to achieve a lower rate, but this is still very good."

The new rates will be adjustable to reflect such things as water conditions, Bonneville's financial performance, and fish and wildlife conservation costs.

But the federal power marketing agency said its financial forecast for 2006 remains strong thanks to good water conditions and strong markets for surplus power sales.

Bonneville supplies about 40 percent of the electricity in the Northwest from a system of 31 federal dams and one nuclear power plant in Washington state. It also operates a high-voltage transmission grid with more than 15,000 miles of lines in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

Staff & News Sources
PUD Had Hoped for Even Lower Rate from Bonneville
Seattle Times, July 18, 2006

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