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Feedback: BPA'S Fish Costs

by Jim Ruff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - September 20, 2002

A recent report on BPA's 2001 revenue, which was the subject of last week's lead article in the 9/13/02 CBB, leaves the mistaken impression that fish operations in 2001 cost the region's ratepayers at least $1.5 billion.

That assertion fails to acknowledge that BPA received over $600 million last year in fish and wildlife credits ($337 million under the annual 4(h)(10)(C) fish credit and another $247 million under a special contingency clause).
(bluefish notes: fish credits expended still effect BPA's financial position as credits budgeted for later use were used up now)

This leaves a difference of about $900 million, which is still a large sum. However, not all that expenditure was for fish, but also to meet the region's power needs during the 2001 power system emergency.

According to a recent U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) report, the reporting of BPA's expenditures that includes replacement power purchases could be the result of other management decisions not related to salmon recovery, like safeguards against rolling blackouts.

In other words, power purchase expenditures are inextricably linked with that year's overall power system operations, and should not be counted only as fish costs. Given this information, stating that fish operations cost totals $1.5 billion in 2001 smells a bit fishy.

Jim Ruff, National Marine Fisheries Service's Federal Hydro System Branch Chief
Feedback: BPA'S Fish Costs
Columbia Basin Bulletin, September 20, 2002

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