Agency Saddled with Debt Because Not All Users Payby Gerard Bentryn
Letters, Seattle Post-Intelligencer - February 27, 2003
While I wholeheartedly agree that keeping the Bonneville Power Administration healthy is key to preserving what is left of our regional competitive advantage, I continue to be amazed that the real reason BPA and our regional economy are at risk is kept hidden from the ratepayers of Western Washington.
The cost of Grand Coulee Dam was doubled in order to provide water for irrigators. They were supposed to share in paying back the federal government. Instead, ratepayers and taxpayers have had to shoulder all the costs. BPA is saddled with the debt caused by non-payment by irrigators.
Family farms on both sides of the Cascades have been driven out of business by corporate irrigators who use about 14 percent of the generating capacity of Grand Coulee, pay nothing for the water and but a tiny fraction of the true price for their electricity. If the original contract with irrigators were enforced, limiting the delivery of free water to farms of no more than 320 acres, about 10 percent more power would be made available. The price of power would decrease at an even greater rate.
Why should homeowners and businesses in Everett, Seattle or Tacoma pay punishing power bills that undermine their ability to survive when a handful of primarily out-of-state corporations feed at the government trough? Make all water and power users pay their fair share.
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