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Several Utilities Reject Bonneville Rate Accord

by William McCall, Associated Press
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 22, 2004

PORTLAND -- Public utilities have rejected an electrical rate decrease proposed by the Bonneville Power Administration and endorsed by four Northwest governors, officials said yesterday.

Bonneville was sued by 72 public utilities after power prices soared during the Western energy crisis of 2001.

The BPA offered to settle the lawsuits by rolling back wholesale electrical prices by 7.4 percent, but all 72 utilities had to sign the agreement by Tuesday in order for it to take effect.

Several Washington state utilities, most notably the Snohomish County Public Utility District, the largest of Bonneville's public customers, were among those that rejected the settlement.

"We felt it was shortsighted for consumers and the region," said Neil Neroutsos, spokesman for the Snohomish district.

Despite the rate relief, the settlement would have imposed other costs on a number of utilities, Neroutsos said.

Bonneville had planned to change its system of credits to investor-owned utilities to a mixture of cash and electricity, but public utilities argued that the rebates were unwarranted and would forced the BPA to raise wholesale rates.

Under the terms of the agreement, the private utilities would have agreed to defer receiving an additional $269 million in BPA payments until 2007, when the agency's next rate period begins.

William McCall, Associated Press
Several Utilities Reject Bonneville Rate Accord
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 22, 2004

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