Electricity Markets

Groups detail how BPA is well positioned to provide long-term value

The Bonneville Power Administration and the federal hydropower it markets “will continue to provide value to the region and nation for decades to come,” the American Public Power Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association said in a recent letter to members of the Pacific Northwest congressional delegation.

In the Oct. 2 letter, Sue Kelly, President and CEO of the American Public Power Association, and Jim Matheson, CEO of NRECA, noted that BPA “has a long and proud history of providing clean, reliable, and affordable hydropower that laid the groundwork for the region to flourish.”

BPA is a nonprofit federal power marketing administration that markets wholesale electric power from 31 federal hydroelectric projects and one nonfederal nuclear plant to millions of Americans in the region served by many of the members of the two associations.

BPA rates are set to cover all the generation and transmission costs, as well as repayment, with interest, of the federal hydropower projects, the letter points out. None of the costs are borne by taxpayers.

“Moreover, the federal hydroelectric projects for which Bonneville markets power are multipurpose – in addition to generating electricity, they provide flood control, irrigation, navigation services and recreation opportunities. The multipurpose nature of these projects is invaluable to the region and its economy,” Kelly and Matheson said.

They noted that like the entire electric utility industry, BPA is facing a fast-changing electric market landscape and the challenges that transition brings.

“We believe strongly that Bonneville is well-positioned to adapt to changing markets and energy policies to the benefit of consumers and the region,” wrote Kelly and Matheson. “Despite recent press reports of alleged financial distress, Bonneville has high investment-grade credit ratings and, together with its community-owned Northwest customers, is working to reduce costs and maintain competitiveness.”

Kelly and Matheson also noted that hydropower “is the premier renewable resource and offers unparalleled reliability.” As the rest of the country “grapples with how to ensure an affordable and reliable transition to a clean economy, the Pacific Northwest is leaps and bounds ahead. Innate to hydropower are attributes – low cost, non-emitting, and reliable – that are highly desirable energy policy goals that energy markets are moving towards appropriately valuing.”

The letter was also sent to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, as well as the following Senators and Representatives:

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Chairman, Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources;
  • Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources;
  • Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., Chairman, Subcommittee on Water & Power, Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources;
  • Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Water & Power, Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources;
  • Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., Chairman, House Committee on Natural Resources;
  • Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, Ranking Member, House Committee on Natural Resources;
  • Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., Chairman, Subcommittee on Energy & Mineral Resources, House Committee on Natural Resources; and
  • Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Energy & Mineral Resources, House Committee on Natural Resources

BPA makes 36th consecutive U.S. Treasury payment

BPA on Oct. 3 said it made its 36th consecutive U.S. Treasury payment on time and in full. This year’s $1.06 billion payment brings BPA’s cumulative payments to the Treasury during those 36 years to over $30 billion.

“Our annual treasury payment is the final bill of the year and paid after BPA has met every other financial obligation,” said Michelle Manary, BPA’s chief financial officer. “It demonstrates our commitment to fiscal responsibility and sustained financial strength.”

BPA sets its rates to maintain an annual 97.5 percent probability of making this payment. This year’s payment to the U.S. Treasury includes $734 million in principal and $232 million in interest. The remaining $97 million covers a variety of other costs, including irrigation assistance that BPA provides to help irrigators repay their share of certain Bureau of Reclamation projects.