BPA Practices: Federal Action
by By R. Patrick Reiten, J. Rachel Shimsack, Don Furman and Jim Piro
When you don't have the facts or the law on your side, distract them with fear and emotion. That seems to be the attitude by some toward the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's order directing the Bonneville Power Administration to halt discriminatory practices on its electric transmission system (Scott Corwin, In My Opinion, Dec. 21). The FERC order said, in essence, that BPA may not unduly discriminate against non-federal electricity generation in order to gain an economic advantage for its own generation.
BPA performs two primary functions for the benefit of Northwest electricity customers. It markets the output from the federal dams on the Columbia River system, and it operates the transmission grid that serves the entire region. These are two very distinct functions, with very different responsibilities.
When marketing the energy produced by the federally owned dams, by law BPA must give preference to publicly owned utilities and cooperatives. Nothing about the FERC decision changes that. Publicly owned utilities will continue to receive their full allotment of energy from Bonneville.
But the rules are different when it comes to the electricity transmission system.
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