Governors Object to
by Associated Press
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Three Democratic governors are protesting President Bush's plan to tap surplus revenue from the Bonneville Power Administration, which supplies nearly half the Pacific Northwest's electricity.
In a letter released Friday, Govs. Chris Gregoire of Washington, Ted Kulongoski of Oregon and Brian Schweitzer of Montana asked Bush to remove the BPA proposal from his 2007 budget.
Bush's plan would use some surplus revenue from the regional power marketing agency to pay down the federal debt, instead of lowering electricity rates for Northwest businesses and consumers.
The three governors said that would provide little relief for the deficit, but would "undermine one of the most successful federal-state partnerships for regional economic development and hurt the citizens and businesses of our states."
They estimated that the resulting rate increases would cost regional taxpayers more than $100 million per year and jeopardize more than 1,100 jobs.
Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and others have defended the change, saying BPA revenues would be tapped only after they exceed $500 million. BPA officials expect to generate annual surpluses of about $650 million through 2009.
The proposal would mean "a modest rate increase" for BPA customers in 2008 and 2009, Bodman said last month, but would benefit Bonneville in the long term through improved access to capital, which would be used to upgrade infrastructure.
Several U.S. senators from the Northwest also have objected to the BPA revenue shift, and have pushed a budget resolution that would make it easier to block the plan.
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