Senators: Don’t sell BPA

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Several U.S. senators have written a letter to the director of the Office of Management and Budget opposing a proposal to sell transmission assets of the Bonneville Power Administration and other power marketing administrations.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., was among those writing to Mick Mulvaney in opposition to President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2020 budget proposal.

The senators expressed concern that the proposal would hinder improvements to national infrastructure and increase rates for consumers and local business.

At a hearing of the Senate Energy Subcommittee on Water and Power, Cantwell reiterated the economic impact selling BPA assets would have.

“It’s just a really loony idea, but behind the looniness is also a very big economic impact,” she said. “The Northwest Public Power Conservation Council put that electricity rates could rise as high as 24 percent if this kind of concept were pursued," Cantwell said during the hearing.

Dan James, deputy administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration, testified at the hearing. In response to a question from Cantwell on how prices would be affected, James said selling assets would be disruptive.

“We assume that there would be costs associated with contract changes, breach of contract claims and work force issues, among many others,” James said.

BPA markets and transmits power generated at 31 federal hydropower projects, the Columbia Generating Station and several other non-federal power plants. It primarily provides power to rural electric cooperatives and public power utilities serving consumers throughout the Pacific Northwest.