January 19, 2005

Wyden Obtains Promise from Energy Nominee to Oppose Privatization of Bonneville Power

Senator continues efforts to protect Northwest ratepayers, Oregon energy resources

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today asked for and received a commitment from Secretary of Energy nominee Samuel W. Bodman that Bodman does not support the sale or privatization of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). Wyden and Bodman's exchange occurred during Bodman's confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Bodman also assured the Senator that to his knowledge, the Administration agrees that BPA should not be sold or privatized. "This is good news for Oregon," said Wyden. "The future of the Bonneville Power Administration is the key to our state's energy future and it greatly comforts me to hear that the nominee committed today that he would oppose selling off or privatizing BPA." Wyden has worked for years to protect Oregonians' access to the cost-based power rates BPA provides. In February of 2003, the Bush Administration released a statement that seemed to indicate that the White House would move BPA towards privatization. At a hearing the following month, Wyden reiterated Oregonians' strong opposition to privatization to White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mitch Daniels, noting the economic blow it would deal to the already hard-hit state. Daniels gave Wyden his word that BPA would not be privatized. Privatization of BPA could range from the sale of the entire agency to the contracting out of work now done by BPA employees. By law, BPA charges customers a cost-based rate; the privatization of BPA to a for-profit utility or for-profit contractors could result in major price hikes for Northwest consumers, who would have to pay for the new owner's or contractors' profits as well as for the cost of power.