• BPA adopts higher wholesale power and transmission rates

    The Bonneville Power Administration today adopted a 9 percent average wholesale power rate increase and an 11 percent average transmission rate increase. The transmission rate increase is the first in six years. The new rates support needed improvements to ensure the region’s federal hydropower and transmission systems can continue to reliably deliver carbon-free, affordable power to Northwest homes and businesses. The new rates take effect Oct. 1, 2013.      
    “We recognize that rate increases are very challenging for customers, especially for those still in the throes of a slow economy,” said BPA Acting Administrator Elliot Mainzer. “But the increases are necessary so that we can preserve the long-term value of carbon-free federal generation and support the reliability of the high-voltage transmission lines that serve Northwest public utilities.”  

    For Bonneville’s utility power customers, the wholesale rate increase will be an average of 9 percent higher than current rates. The power rate increase stems from higher costs to operate and maintain the federal hydroelectric system, higher costs to fund existing long-term agreements for the fish and wildlife mitigation program and reduced revenues from surplus power sales due to low market prices. 

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  • Grays Harbor PUD Seeks Input on Possible Settlement

    ABERDEEN, Wash. – A meeting next month will discuss a possible settlement with the Bonneville Power Administration regarding the Residential Exchange Program. Liz Anderson with the Grays Harbor PUD tells us following a court victory, over BPS rates in 2001, for consumer-owned utilities including Grays Harbor PUD the litigation is continuing over the amount due and how the exchange payments are calculated going forward.  In an effort to settle the litigation, some representatives of investor-owned utilities and consumer-owned utilities developed a “Settlement” that is currently under consideration by consumer-owned utilities throughout the region.

    The Settlement would obligate customers of consumer-owned utilities to pay fixed amounts for the Residential Exchange for 17 years, ranging from $182 million (total for public power) in the first year to over $286 million in 2028. The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners is reviewing the Settlement terms and considering the best option for ratepayers. The forum Thursday, April 7, 2011 from 6pm-8pm will provide an opportunity for a dialogue with ratepayers to discuss the proposal and Grays Harbor’s position.

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  • Grays Harbor PUD Approves 2011 Budget

    ABERDEEN, Wash. – The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners have approved a budget for 2011 which anticipates a possible 7% rate increase in the coming year. The PUD says 4% of the rate increase would cover the rising cost of renewable resources, and conservation mandated under Initiative 937, as well as anticipated cost of power purchased from Bonneville Power Administration. The remaining 3% will be set aside to fund future capital improvement projects to reduce long term debt. Relations Director Liz Anderson tells KBKW the Commissioners passed the budget at Monday’s meeting, but will address the rate increase proposal at a later date.

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  • Grays Harbor PUD Responds to Proposed Rate Increases

    ABERDEEN, Wash. – Grays Harbor PUD is expressing concern and disappointment in response to a proposal by the Bonneville Power Administration to raise power rates by 8.5% for fiscal years 2011-2012. The agency filed the proposal Thursday in the Federal Register.

    The proposal launches the public process called a “rate case” which will set the rate for a two year period beginning October 1, 2011. The proposal would result in an estimated increase in power costs to Grays Harbor PUD of approximately $843,000 in 2011 (October 1-December) and more than $3 million in 2012.

    “We are disappointed to see this level of rate increase proposed by BPA,” said Rick Lovely, General Manager of Grays Harbor PUD. “This would have a significant impact on what ratepayers pay for electricity and is especially concerning in light of the fact that BPA continues to pursue activities which are costly to public power and provide no benefit to customers of consumer-owned utilities,” he said.

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  • BPA Proposes Fire Sale of Hydro Power During Springtime Oversupply

    Portland, OR – The Bonneville Power Administration on Sunday announced a new approach to addressing situations arising when too much energy is available for delivery. In these situations, which usually happen in the springtime when there is a lot of water in the Columbia River system, some generators must be turned off. As the transmission grid operator, BPA is required to develop a method for determining which generators must be turned off first.

    BPA’s plan allows for displacing generators after all other reasonable actions are taken. While BPA operates the transmission grid, it also is responsible for generation units. In times of high water, federal system operators must run the federal hydroelectric plants in order to comply with environmental regulations to protect fish. The plan, which was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today, is based on input from regional stakeholders. In formulating this plan, BPA sought to balance multiple competing interests by equitably sharing oversupply costs and limiting total cost exposure. BPA’s objective was to create a set of rules that is fair to all parties and that can help to avoid protracted litigation.

    BPA submitted the filing to meet the deadline set in a Dec. 7, 2011, FERC order. If accepted by FERC, the plan – referred to as the Oversupply Management Protocol – will be in place for one year. BPA received almost 90 comments on the proposal after releasing it for public comment on Feb. 7. Details about how the final submission differs from the initial proposal are available at the link.

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  • Grays Harbor PUD Commisioners Say No To Proposed Settlement

    ABERDEEN, Wash. – The Grays Harbor PUD Commissioners yesterday adopted a resolution rejecting a proposed settlement from the Bonneville Power Administration that sought to not only settle litigation surrounding the Residential Exchange Program, but to lock rate payers into a set fee structure for the next 17 years. Commissioner Tom Casey told the few that attended last night’s meeting “Without binding arbitration, in effect, BPA doesn’t have to follow any of their contracts, unless you want to sue them.” The BPA proposal would require 91% of their Preferred customers to agree, with a deadline of April 15th, the commissioners last night said they don’t think enough Public Utilities will sign the agreement.

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  • Local Partners Help Salmon Return to Historic Tidal Wetland

    Explorers Lewis and Clark documented the wetlands on a map, above, as the series of streams and pools at the middle top. The river and tides are now returning to the wetlands for the first time in about a century. CHINOOK, Wash. – Large numbers of salmon may soon make their way into a tidal wetland that’s been closed to migrating fish on the Columbia River for more than a century.

    The wetland near Chinook, Wash., is the type of habitat that is vital to the survival of migrating juvenile salmon and is clearly marked on the historic maps of explorers Lewis and Clark.

    Since the 1890’s, railroad tracks and a highway, now US 101, disconnected the river and tides from the 96-acre marsh.  During construction, crews installed an enormous new culvert with a natural stream bottom that will once again connect the river to the wetland.

    Wednesday, Feb. 16, crews removed a large cofferdam.  The temporary structure kept water from entering the new culvert during construction.  Once the dam is removed, the Columbia River tides will flow into the marsh for the first time in more than 100 years.

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  • Pikeminnow program pays off big and helps save salmon

    Portland, Ore. – Anglers hooked large payoffs during this year’s Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program, raking in over $1.2 million by catching 173,112 of the voracious salmon eaters. 

    The program provides cash for catching pikeminnow, a large member of the minnow family, in the Columbia and Snake rivers. These predators chow down on millions of young salmon and steelhead every year. Research shows that reducing the number of pikeminnow helps salmon and steelhead survival.

    One angler earned $81,366 during the six-month season, breaking the individual record for catching specially tagged fish that are worth up to $500.  He hooked 13 tagged fish and earned $6,500 in the process.

    “This program provides an opportunity to earn income, which is especially important during these tough economic times, and it’s good for salmon,” said Russell Porter, senior program manager for the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. “We appreciate the effort of all those anglers who participated, and we look forward to another successful year in 2011.”

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