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Commentaries and editorials

Trump Proposal to Sell-off
Bonneville Power Assets Could Raise Rates

by Annette Cary
Tri-City Herald, May 23, 2017

“I successfully fought Republican’s efforts more than a decade ago to privatize Bonneville Power,
and I will fight this misguided attempt,” Wyden said.

The Trump administration is proposing selling Bonneville Power Administration’s transmission assets. (AP Photo) The transmission system of the Bonneville Power Administration would be sold off under the proposed federal budget for next year released by President Donald Trump’s administration.

The proposed sale of most of BPA’s assets would raise rates for utility ratepayers, said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

In the Tri-City region, the Benton and Franklin PUDs and Richland’s energy services receive most of their power from BPA.

“Public power customers in the Pacific Northwest have paid for the system and their investment should not be put up for sale,” Wyden said.

BPA is part of the U.S. Department of Energy, but is self funding. It markets wholesale electric power, mostly from federal dams and the Energy Northwest nuclear power plant near Richland.

It operates and maintains about three-quarters of the high-voltage transmission in its service territory, which includes Idaho, Oregon, Washington and some small parts of other nearby states.

It has 15,000 circuit-miles of high voltage transmission lines and about 261 substations.

The Northwest Energy Coalition -- an alliance of environmental, civic and other organizations supporting energy efficiency and new renewable resources -- also condemned the proposal.

“At a time when economic and environmental priorities point to the need for greater integration and efficiency in electricity generation and transmission, this proposal goes in the opposite direction by threatening to fragment the Northwest energy system and increase costs for customers, said Wendy Gerlitz, the coalition’s policy director.

Because BPA is self-supporting, any revenue from the sale of transmission assets would be a one-time fix, said Fred Heutte, senior policy associate at the commission, in response to reports that the sale of assets is proposed to help offset the federal deficit.

“I successfully fought Republican’s efforts more than a decade ago to privatize Bonneville Power, and I will fight this misguided attempt,” Wyden said.

Annually the presidential administration proposes a budget for the next fiscal year starting Oct. 1, but Congress sets the final budget.


Annette Cary
Trump Proposal to Sell-off Bonneville Power Assets Could Raise Rates
Tri-City Herald, May 23, 2017

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