Northwest Lawmakers Vowby Matthew Daly, Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Northwest lawmakers vowed Monday to block a Bush administration proposal they say could raise the region's electric power rates by as much as 20 percent.
In its budget proposal for 2006, the administration called for a plan requiring the Bonneville Power Administration to shift from providing power at rates based on cost to market-based rates.
Lawmakers said the change could cost Northwest consumers more than $480 million in the first year, and at least $2.5 billion over three years.
"This is the same as a billion-dollar tax hike on Washington state, and as far as I'm concerned, it's dead on arrival," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. "To think we would arbitrarily pay more for power generated right here in the Northwest is ludicrous."
Reps. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., also vowed to fight the proposal, which they called a drastic change from current policy.
"This seems to be a little tougher than the usual attacks on affordable hydropower that we've seen consistently from the administration, It's alarming," said Kristie Greco, a spokeswoman for DeFazio.
A spokesman for the BPA declined to comment Monday, saying the agency was still studying the proposal.
Bonneville, the federal power marketing agency based in Portland, Ore., supplies nearly half the electricity in the Pacific Northwest, most of it from a system of federal dams along the Columbia and Snake rivers.
Bonneville Power Administration
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