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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.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,
-- CBB, September 14, 2018, “Draft Columbia
Basin Fish Accords Extension Out For Review; Less Expensive, Shorter Duration,”
-- 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