Power rates to climb by 8.5% this year for “fish” and “habitat restoration” - Northwest taxpayers to should annual increase of close to $1 billion per year

Posted 4/9/2011

Clallam County, WA - In the March 2011 newsletter – The Clallam County PUD Hotline - published by the Clallam County PUD, the taxpayers were informed that there will be yet another increase in fees to help fund fish and wildlife programs.

The newsletter states:

“A November 18, 2010 BPA press release announced that BPA is anticipat­ing increasing wholesale rates by 8.5% in October of 2011. One of the primary reasons given for this proposed increase is 'Improvements at dams and habitat restoration to protect Northwest salmon and steelhead as outlined in the federal Biological Opinion (BiOp) on federal hydropower system operation and the Columbia Basin Fish Accords agreements with three Northwest states and seven Native American Tribes.'

“According to the 2008 BiOp, if implemented as is, an additional $10 billion investment in salmon recovery efforts over the next 10 years would occur. This means BPA ratepayers, like the PUD, would shoulder an annual burden of close to $1 billion per year.

“Even prior to the BiOp, BPA has spent significant monies on fish and wildlife mitigation. According to BPA figures, Northwest ratepayers like the PUD since 1978 have invested $11.9 billion in salmon recovery. Between 1999 and 2009, BPA expended a total of $7.98 billion. This amount includes the lost opportunity cost in water that is spilled over the dams for fish that represents “lost” electricity and money that could have been generated.

“Today, fish and wildlife mitigation programs account for about 36 percent of BPA’s annual operating costs. This means about one-third of what PUD pays BPA for electricity is for fish and wildlife programs and is reflected in every PUD’s customer’s electric bill.

"The information presented here is in no way intended to be anything but informational – an attempt to communicate in a most transparent manner, and to educate and inform the valued customers of the PUD about the mandated costs and challenges facing all ratepayers in the future.”

The entire newsletter can be read at http://www.clallampud.net/eService/hotline/2011MarchHotline.pdf