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Commentaries and editorials

Feedback: Accounting for BPA Fish Costs

by Steve Weiss, Northwest Energy Coalition
Columbia Basin Bulletin - October 11, 2002

In the Oct. 4 CBB, Mr. McKern makes a common mistake about the "costs" of fish operations to BPA last year. BPA cites a $1.5 billion figure, but Mr. McKern thinks that is because of lost generation due to spill. However, the vast majority of that $1.5 billion was due to running more water through the turbines in the spring/summer rather than in the winter when prices were higher. BPA actually did very little spill last year (maybe 10% of that required by the BiOp) because the agency declared a hydro emergency.

It also must be noted that the $1.5 billion figure is highly inflated, because it assumes prices would stay the same if BPA could operate the system without regard to fish requirements. In reality, if BPA moved flow from spring/summer to winter, prices would change significantly. Winter prices would go down and spring/summer prices would increase. Thus the "value" of the water shift would be much less--perhaps only half that cited by BPA--due to the steepness of the supply curves at last year's high prices. The NW Energy Coalition and others will present a more detailed critique of BPA's methodology, along with some estimate of the other "costs" to the system such as irrigation withdrawals, in our comments to the Council's paper.

Related Pages:
Early Tests of New Fish Passage Technology Positive by Barry Espenson, Columbia Basin Bulletin
Feedback: Surface Bypass Technology by John McKern, Columbia Basin Bulletin

Steve Weiss, Northwest Energy Coalition
Feedback: Accounting for BPA Fish Costs
Columbia Basin Bulletin, October 11, 2002

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