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Draft Report ‘Energy, Fish, Wildlife: the Columbia River Basin In Fiscal Year 2018’ Out For Review
Posted on Friday, September 28, 2018 (PST)

A draft report by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council that will be sent to Congress early next year says that changes in the energy markets as the U.S. and the West Coast transition away from coal, competition from other utilities, along with a massive build-up of solar power in California causing lower energy sales to the state is leaving the Bonneville Power Administration less competitive than in past years.

 

The draft 2018 Annual Report to Congress: Energy, Fish, Wildlife: the Columbia River Basin in Fiscal year 2018 was released by the Council two weeks ago and is out for public review until Dec. 14, 2018. The Northwest Power Act requires the Council to issue the report each year and to make the draft report available for 90 days of public comment prior to sending the final report to Congress.

 

Elliott Mainzer, administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration, has said that “as the result of waves of inexpensive renewable energy flooding the marketplace the federal power marketing agency’s electricity is not priced competitively,” the draft report says.

 

Mainzer has instructed his managers at BPA to look for places to cut costs, the draft report says. One of those areas of cost-cutting is the power marketing agency’s fish and wildlife expenses.

 

After reviewing Bonneville’s current financial situation in light of its many obligations and the realities of the wholesale energy marketplace, where long-term low prices could pull some utility customers away from Bonneville, Mainzer said “we concluded that our trajectory of rate increases and programmatic cost increases wasn’t sustainable, and we needed to start bending the cost curve.”

 

The draft report says that near the end of FY2018, BPA had identified about $30 million in reductions to its Fish and Wildlife budget of $300 million. Some $250.4 million is due to the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program expenses in FY2017, the report says. The amount also includes payments to the Columbia Basin Fish Accords. It adds that the cost-reductions “were very much a work in progress.”

 

Mainzer expected BPA would receive “a lot of advice, assistance, and of course some complaints as decisions are made that lead to a reduced budget by the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1,” the draft report says.

 

Mainzer has said Bonneville is committed to “this incredibly important, and valuable, and morally obligated, work on fish and wildlife.”

 

Also mentioned in the draft report is that the Council began its revision of the 2014 Fish and Wildlife Program, sending a letter to stakeholders asking for amendment recommendations.

 

Other fish and wildlife issues discussed in the report are the state of Montana’s battle to keep invasive mussels out of its lakes and streams, control of the predatory Northern Pike in Lake Roosevelt, the impact by sea lions on salmonids, particularly steelhead, the BPA and state of Idaho Albeni Falls Agreement and a review of the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program.

 

BPA spent $450.4 million on fish and wildlife in FY2018, according to the report. That includes $254.7 million in direct F&W expenses, $62.8 for amortization/depreciation, $58.6 in interest, $46.8 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, $26 million to lower Snake River compensation program, $20.5 for power purchases to compensate for fish enhancement activities, $9.6 million in foregone revenue, $7 million to Bureau of Reclamation and $5.5 million the Council.

 

The draft report is online at https://www.nwcouncil.org/sites/default/files/2018-14.pdf

 

Comments can be submitted in writing to comments@nwcouncil.org with “Draft 2018 Annual Report” in the subject line, or mail to Mark Walker, Director of Public Affairs, NPCC, 851 S.W. Sixth Avenue, Suite 1100, Portland, Oregon, 97204.

 

Also see:

 

-- CBB, September 14, 2018, “Draft Columbia Basin Fish Accords Extension Out For Review; Less Expensive, Shorter Duration,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/441489.aspx

 

-- CBB, August 17, 2018, “Council Gets Update On BPA Efforts To Reduce Funding For Fish/Wildlife Program Projects,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/441295.aspx

 

-- CBB, August 17, 2018, “Deadline Extended For Amendments To Columbia River Basin Fish And Wildlife Program,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/441298.aspx

 

--CBB, April 6, 2017, “Council Sends ‘State Of The Columbia River Basin’ To Congress,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440471.aspx

 

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