BPA Faces Financial Woesby Jeff Brady
Oregon Public Broadcasting, August 16, 2002
PORTLAND -- Dozens of people packed a hotel meeting room yesterday afternoon to discuss the Bonneville Power Administration's money problems. The agency is facing an estimated $1 billion deficit over the next four years and must find a way to balance its books.
Many of those attending the meeting belong to one of two interest groups: environmentalists and ratepayers. Environmentalists don't want the BPA to drastically cut fish and wildlife programs. The consumer-owned utilities representing ratepayers don't want electric bills to rise too much.
Paul Norman with the BPA says the agency has several options: raise rates, cut costs, borrow more money, or take the risk of delaying payments to the federal treasury.
Norman: We have a classic choice of evils here. We do have a variety of ways of managing this situation--none of them are very attractive.
Norman says the end result likely will be a mix of all those options. He says determining that mix is the purpose of these meetings. The BPA will hold public hearings in Seattle and Spokane next week and in Burley, Idaho the week after. A final decision is expected by the end of the year.
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