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Economic and dam related articles

Council Reports BPA F&W Costs
Last Year Totaled $782.3 Million

by Laura Berg
NW Fishletter, August 11, 2015

The report says the total does not reflect $103.9 million in the annual Treasury credits for non-hydropower dam purposes.

Graphic: Cumulative Fish Costs from 1978 through 2014. (source:Bonneville Power Administration) BPA's fish and wildlife costs for fiscal year 2014 totaled $782.3 million, according to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's annual report compiled for the Northwest governors--a spending total in line with recent years.

This F&W tally represents 31.8 percent of BPA's 2014 Power Business Line costs and forgone revenues of $2.459 billion.

Total BPA F&W spending since 1978 has reached $14.5 billion, which excludes $2.56 billion in obligations to capital projects and $1.98 billion in U.S. Treasury credits from obligations of other agencies for non-hydropower dam purposes.

The 2014 F&W figure includes $231.8 million in direct costs and $90.3 million in direct costs and reimbursements to the federal Treasury for spending by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for investments in fish passage and fish production, including direct funding of operations and maintenance expenses of federal fish hatcheries.

Also in the total were $141.3 million in fixed costs (interest, amortization and depreciation) of capital investments for facilities such as hatcheries, fish-passage facilities at dams, and some land purchases for fish and wildlife habitat.

When dam operations for fish reduced hydropower generation, forgone hydropower sales and power purchases accounted for $122.7 million and $196.2 million, respectively.

The report says the total does not reflect $103.9 million in the annual Treasury credits for non-hydropower dam purposes. For 2014, the credit reduces ratepayer responsibility for fish and wildlife costs to $678.7 million. The fish and wildlife spending is part of implementing the 1980 Northwest Power Act, which directs the protection, mitigation and enhancement of Columbia River Basin fish and wildlife and related habitat affected by hydroelectric development.

The biological opinions on the Federal Columbia River Power System operations issued by NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oblige hydropower dam operations for fish that also affect power generation.

The Council has been reporting BPA's annual fish and wildlife program costs since 2001.

In a related matter, the Council at its July 14-15 meeting endorsed a new process to save about 1 percent of the F&W program budget each year.

Most of the annual savings will come from projects that are closing out and through efficiencies in existing projects, said Council Fish and Wildlife Division Director Tony Grover. "Funds left over when a project ends will go back into the pot for reallocation and follow the usual process for funding approval," he said. Projects that have received unfavorable scientific or policy review could also be subject to cost-saving measures.

The savings will help the Council fund emerging priority issues such as implementing measures for the anadromous Pacific lamprey, toxic contamination, invasive species and salmon reintroduction above Grand Coulee Dam.

Total Costs FY2014 by Major Spending Area
Direct Program $231.8 million 29.6%
Fixed Costs $141.3 million 18.1%
Power Purchases $196.2 million 25.1%
Foregone Revenue $122.7 million 15.7%
Reimbursable Costs $90.3 million 11.5%

Laura Berg
Council Reports BPA F&W Costs Last Year Totaled $782.3 Million
NW Fishletter, August 11, 2015

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