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Economic and dam related articles

BPA Customers Propose Resource Acquisition Plan

by CBB Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - August 16, 2002

A large group of Northwest utilities, both public and investor-owned, have developed a proposal for how the largest electricity supplier in the Northwest, the federal Bonneville Power Administration, would develop resources and market its power in the future.

The customers have proposed that Bonneville reduce its future role in West Coast power markets, giving the utilities a larger role in developing or buying resources to meet their own demand for power. The contracts to effect these changes would extend for 20 years.

Bonneville and the Northwest Power Planning Council have planned a series of public meetings around the Northwest in September to discuss the customers' proposal and other ideas for the future of Bonneville. Background on the customers' proposal and comments on the proposal are posted on the Council's website, Locations and times of the public meetings will be posted there as soon as they are available.

Some elements of the customers' proposal have not been developed fully. One such element concerns how Bonneville's current responsibilities for conservation and renewable resource development would be carried out. The Council wants to ensure that regional investments in energy conservation and renewable resources remain a priority.

Representatives of the customer group have been meeting with representatives of environmental organizations and resource advocacy groups to try to develop a conservation and renewables component for the proposal. To help these groups in this task, the Council wrote a set of guidelines, or characteristics, for a future system that would support such investments. The Council discussed the characteristics at a meeting this week in Helena.

"Least-cost planning, which means ensuring that the lowest-cost resources are identified and acquired as needed, is the guiding principle," Council Chairman Larry Cassidy said. "Bonneville and the region's utilities have been national leaders in energy conservation and developing renewable resources like wind power. Least-cost planning was a good idea in 1980, when Congress passed the Northwest Power Act that directed Bonneville to acquire lowest-cost resources to meet demand for power. It remains a good idea today, particularly in light of our recent experiences with a power crisis and sky-high power costs."

The Council will post its list of characteristics of a conservation and renewable resource acquisition system on its web site. According to the characteristics, such a system would encourage:

The Council is an agency of the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington and is directed by the Northwest Power Act of 1980 to prepare a program to protect, mitigate and enhance fish and wildlife of the Columbia River Basin affected by hydropower dams while also assuring the region an adequate, efficient, economical and reliable power supply.

CBB Staff
BPA Customers Propose Resource Acquisition Plan
Columbia Basin Bulletin, August 16, 2002

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