Snohomish Utility Rejects BPA's Settlement Offerby Staff
Opinion, Seattle Post-Intelligencer - November 20, 2003
Snohomish County Public Utility District commissioners have rejected a proposed settlement of a lawsuit filed by it and other Northwest utilities against the Bonneville Power Administration, calling it a "short-term, short-sighted" plan.
If all parties agree to the settlement, the BPA has said it would be able to reverse an October rate increase and cut wholesale rates below 2003 averages.
But the settlement requires the approval of the 72 utilities that filed the suit by Jan. 20.
The suit stems from payments of cash and electricity the BPA has made to investor-owned utilities such as Puget Sound Energy to share the benefits of the low-cost hydro system. The suit by the public utilities challenged the amount and structure of those payments. The BPA's proposed settlement would stretch out the time over which it made payments to the investor-owned utilities.
Snohomish PUD commissioners said the settlement "provides little, if any, economic value for our customers." The utility has also been highly critical of the BPA's spending practices and said the settlement proposal includes "no binding cost reduction requirement" and no guarantee that the BPA won't raise rates in the fiscal years starting in October 2004.
BPA Administrator Steve Wright urged Snohomish to reconsider its rejection of the settlement or come up with an alternate plan.
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