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Economic and dam related articles

BPA Proposal Could Lead
to Cheaper Power

by Staff
Portland Business Journal, February 8, 2008

The Bonneville Power Administration Friday released a proposal that could lead to as much as a 4 percent reduction in power costs for local residents and small farmers.

Technically the proposal is for BPA to reduce the wholesale power rates it charges regional utilities. It's too early to say how much of the 4 percent reduction will be passed to consumers.

"You can't necessarily make the assumption that everybody in the region is going to experience that amount of a rate cut," said Katie Pruder, a BPA spokeswoman.

The proposal is a response to a U.S. Court of Appeals decision last May that said BPA had erred in its distribution of cheap power from the region's 31 federal hydroelectric dams.

Friday's announcement is BPA's initial proposal for fiscal year 2009 rates. The proposal will undergo public discussion before a court rules on the rate plan late this summer. At the earliest, the plan will be approved in the fall.

The Bonneville Power Administration is a power wholesaler. Local utilities, such as Portland General Electric, purchase power from BPA and sell it to the public.

Consumer advocates responded favorably to the announcement.

"We appreciate the steps the Bonneville Power Administration has taken today to begin getting rate relief flowing to the customers of private utilities," Oregon Public Utility Commission Chairman Lee Beyer said in a statement. "While we continue to have concerns about the way BPA views the Power Act, we do acknowledge that they have addressed some of the technical issues the commission has raised in order to lawfully carry out the Regional Power Act."

A spokesman for PGE, the state's largest utility, said it's too early to tell what affect reduced wholesale rates would have on residential power bills.

"It's still unclear when or how our customers will actually see those [benefits]," said PGE spokesman Steve Corson.

PGE only buys a small portion of its power from the Bonneville Power Administration.

BPA Proposal Could Lead to Cheaper Power
Portland Business Journal, February 8, 2008

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