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Council Sends Annual Report On BPA’s Fish/Wildlife Spending To Northwest Governors
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2012 (PST)

“Costs” in several instances replaced the word “expenditures” in a document, “Annual Report to Northwest Governors on Fish and Wildlife Expenditures of the Bonneville Power Administration” in the Columbia River basin, stamped for mailing Wednesday by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

The 11th annual report was initially endorsed by the Council at its July meeting but in August the Council opted to withdraw the decision because of concerns by Washington Councilor Phil Rockefeller and other members about the characterization of certain categories of so-called expenditures by Bonneville.

BPA, under obligations lined out in the Northwest Power Act, pays with revenues from power sales for fish and wildlife projects intended to mitigate for impacts caused by the construction and operation of the federal Columbia/Snake river power system. Bonneville markets power generated in the system.

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. Those cost/expenditures come in four categories.

According to an updated report background section approved this week as part of the finalized document:

“Since 2001, in response to a request by the governors of the four Northwest states, the Council has reported annually on Bonneville’s fish and wildlife expenditures (expenditures replaced by the word costs in the newly approved document).

These costs have four primary components:

“1. The Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program, including direct expenditures and capital investments (debt-funded) in facilities and some land purchases

2. Reimbursements to the federal Treasury to repay the power share of the congressional appropriations used for Federal Columbia River Power System fish and wildlife mitigation and also direct- funding payments to the other federal agencies for the power share of fish and wildlife mitigation they perform to address impacts of FCRPS hydropower dams they operate.

3. Forgone hydropower sales revenue that results from Columbia and Snake river dam operations to aid passage of juvenile and adult anadromous fish, such as spilling water that otherwise would be used to generate electricity

4. The cost of electricity purchased by Bonneville to make up for power that could not be generated at the dams because of the fish-passage operations

In this 11th annual report, the Council provides an update of Bonneville’ fish and wildlife costs through Fiscal Year 2011. Financial information was provided by Bonneville in response to requests from the Council staff and was not independently verified by the Council or its staff.”

The revised document includes numerous other revisions. The report can be found at:

http://www.nwcouncil.org/

Some Council members objected to the “foregone hydro power sales earnings” being listed as expenditures, saying rather they are “costs” to the system.

The foregone sales earnings resulted from hydro power operations, such as the spill of water for fish passage, intended to help, primarily, imperiled salmon.

Council notes from the August meeting said Rockefeller felt withdrawing the July decision would give the Council the opportunity to amend the language in the report for greater clarity. He in August distributed a set of edits for the report, including edits that replace the word “expenditures” with “costs.”

BPA says that it incurred $156.7 million in foregone hydropower sales revenue in 2011 from dam operations that benefit fish but reduce hydropower generation. It also calculates that it cost $70.7 million in power purchases 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.

The Council on Wednesday reissued it decision to submit the report, with revisions, to the governors of the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington under authorization from the Northwest Power Act. That law directs the Council prepare a program to protect, mitigate and enhance fish and wildlife, and related spawning grounds and habitat, of the Columbia River Basin that have been affected by hydroelectric development.

The Council this week also released for public comments its “Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Report to Congress.” The draft document will soon be posted on the Council’s web site. The public comment period is 90 days.

The report provides an overview of the Council’s planning activities regarding electricity in the Northwest and fish and wildlife in the Columbia River Basin in Fiscal Year 2012, as well as information about salmon and steelhead returns to the Columbia River Basin to date in calendar year 2012 and the effectiveness of the Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.

The report also includes information about Council organization and its budget, and costs of the Bonneville Power Administration to implement the Council’s Program.

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