December 04, 2006

BPA Customers Would Pay $2.5 Billion More Under President's Budget Proposal, Wyden Says

President's budget delivers one-two punch to BPA ratepayers by dramatically raising rates and undercutting the agency's borrowing authority

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today blasted the President's proposed budget for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), which would lead to higher electricity rates and less reliable service for customers of the BPA. "The Administration is proposing a $2.5 billion hit to the Northwest economy through BPA rate increases, while at the same time taking away the BPA's ability to improve the reliability of its transmission grid," Wyden said. "Low-cost power is the lifeblood of our economy in the Northwest, and this proposal is economic poison for our region." BPA is the largest power wholesaler in the region, supplying an estimated 45 percent of the region's power. BPA currently sells electricity to northwest consumers at a cost-based rate; the President's budget proposes to change that to a market-based rate by increasing rates 20 percent each year until it reaches the market rate. This change would cost BPA consumers in the Northwest—including industry, irrigated agriculture and residential users—approx. $2.5 billion more than they would otherwise pay for electricity over the next three years. "In effect, this proposal would use the BPA as a cash cow to take $2.5 billion out of the hides of electricity users in the Northwest," Wyden said. In addition, the President's budget proposal effectively eliminates the additional borrowing authority that Wyden and others fought to include in past budgets. That borrowing authority is used to improve the reliability of its transmission grid, promote conservation and renewable resources and to protect fish and wildlife. Wyden vowed to use his seat on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee and his seat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to fight to protect Northwest ratepayers from crippling rate increases and maintain reliable electricity service for the region. Wyden pointed out that the Administration "can't impose these devastating rate increases on our region without changing the law, and I'll do everything in my power to prevent this misguided proposal from ever passing the Senate." The President released his budget proposal today in Washington, D.C.