December 04, 2006

Wyden, NW Senators Win Budget Provisions to Strike down BPA rate Hike Proposals

Budget resolution rejects costly shift to market rates, privatization of Bonneville

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today announced that the Senate's FY2006 budget resolution now contains language that rejects the Bush Administration's proposal to force the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to increase rates to consumers. The budget language, coauthored by Wyden and U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and agreed to by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, (R-N.H.), explicitly states that there should be no additional income in the Federal budget from market rates at BPA and other Federal power marketing authorities (PMAs). Wyden and his fellow Northwest Senators on the Budget and Energy Committees have worked together to vigorously oppose the proposal, which would have inflicted billions of dollars in new power costs onto Northwest ratepayers. "Oregon power consumers have won a victory today over this harmful provision," said Wyden. "I am pleased that the Senate Budget Committee has acted to save Oregonians hundreds of millions of dollars. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that the Administration's misguided proposal to privatize BPA will not go forward." BPA is the largest power wholesaler in the Pacific Northwest, 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 defeated proposal would have cost BPA consumers in the Northwest—including industry, irrigated agriculture and residential users—approximately $2.5 billion more than they would have otherwise paid for electricity over the next three years. The proposal would also have robbed the Northwest of the lower-cost power that is a major economic driver for the region. The resolution approved by the Budget Committee today, which sets up the framework for annual Federal spending, now will be sent to the full Senate for its consideration.