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BPA’s Columbia Basin Fish/Wildlife Expenditures: $650 Million In 2011, $12 Billion 1978-2011
Posted on Friday, June 15, 2012 (PST)

The Bonneville Power Administration calculates that it had expenditures of $650 million in fiscal year 2011 for fish and wildlife mitigation activities across the Columbia-Snake River basin, according to the “2011 Expenditures Report: Columbia River Fish and Wildlife Program.”

 

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council on Wednesday approved the report for release for public comment. The report to the governors of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington provides information from BPA on expenditures related to its responsibilities under the Northwest Power Act to mitigate for impacts to fish and wildlife resulting from the existence and operation of the Columbia-Snake River hydro system.

 

That total, which does not include BPA-funded capital projects, is the lowest since 2005. That’s largely because of two variables used in calculating that bottom line – foregone revenues and power purchases.

 

Foregone hydro power sales earnings resulting from hydro power operations intended to help, primarily, imperiled salmon, and power purchases made necessary to make up for lost power production resulting from fish operations, add to the costs of fish and wild operations.

 

Bonneville says power purchases last year were $70.7 million, the lowest total by far since 2000. Power purchases are required to meet power demand during periods when dam operations to protect migrating fish reduce hydropower generation, “such as by spilling water over dams in the spring or storing it behind dams in winter months in anticipation of required spring spills,” according to the NPCC report.

 

The “expense” for the Council’s direct program during FY 2011 totaled $221.1 million, which includes costs for on-the-ground projects, such as habitat restoration, operations and maintenance of existing investments such as habitat and hatcheries and research, monitoring and evaluation. That total is the highest for Bonneville’s annual “expense” dating back to 1978.

 

“The $650 million total does not include obligations for new capital investments in 2011 totaling $90.2 million for program-related projects such as land purchases and hatchery construction, and $103 million for associated federal projects, a budget category that includes capital investments at dams operated by the Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation,” the report says. The latter two categories of expenditures are paid back by Bonneville over time to the U.S. Treasury and are captured in the expenditure report’s “fixed costs” category (interest, amortization and depreciation). That category makes up $127.2 million of the $650 million total for 2011.

 

“The total also does not reflect a credit of $85.3 million from the federal Treasury related to fish and wildlife expenditures in 2011. Effectively, with the credit electricity ratepayers of Bonneville-customer utilities paid $564.7 million in Fiscal Year 2011.”

 

“The 2011 expenditures bring the grand total, from 1978 when the expenditures began, through 2011, to $12.4 billion (the total does not include $2.09 billion in capital investments, discussed above, such as the construction costs of facilities like fish hatcheries and fish-passage facilities at the dams, or $1.71 billion in credits from the federal government that effectively reduce the total annual obligation by Bonneville),” the NPCC report says. More than half that total is for foregone revenues and power purchases.

 

The Council is seeking public comments on what is its draft 11th annual report to the Northwest governors. This report details Bonneville’s spending from 1978 through the end of Fiscal Year 2011, including expenditures on the Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.

 

The Council prepares and periodically revises the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program under authority of the Northwest Power Act of 1980, a federal law. The program is designed to protect, mitigate, and enhance fish and wildlife, and related spawning grounds and habitat, of the Columbia River Basin that have been affected by hydropower dams. Under the Power Act, Bonneville funds implementation of the program as mitigation for hydro impacts.

 

Comments on the draft report will be accepted through 5 p.m. Friday, July 6. Comments should be sent to:

 

Mark Walker

Public Affairs Division director

Northwest Power and Conservation Council

851 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 1100

Portland, Oregon  97204-1348

 

or by e-mail to:

comments@nwcouncil.org

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