Tuesday, February 28, 2006



Thanks to friend Joe for this article!

by Matthew Daly
Albany (Oregon) Democrat-Herald

The Bush administration called recently for the Bonneville Power Administration to reverse its longtime policy of using surplus revenue to lower electricity rates for Northwest consumers and instead use the money to pay down the federal debt.

The administration called the proposal “consistent with sound business practices,’’ but lawmakers from the region called it yet another attack on the Oregon-based regional power agency and Northwest consumers. They said the change could raise electricity rates by as much as 10 percent.

“Energy prices are already through the roof,’’ said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. “Now the administration is trying to squeeze extra dollars out of Northwest businesses and families, just when our economy can least afford it. This is nothing more than a billion-dollar tax hike on the Northwest economy, and I intend to fight this proposal at every opportunity.’’

Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Doc Hastings, R-Wash., also vowed to defeat the plan, which they called “a disguised rate increase.’’

The proposal, part of the president’s budget request for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, follows the administration’s call last year to charge BPA customers based on market rates rather than the cost of producing electricity — a change Northwest lawmakers ultimately defeated.

Under federal law, BPA has authority to sell surplus power to customers both inside and outside the Northwest. The revenue from surplus power sales is then used to lower BPA’s electricity rates throughout the Northwest.

Under the administration’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, any surplus revenue above $500 million would go to pay down federal debt, rather than lower power prices for BPA customers.

According to budget documents, the plan could raise Northwest power rates by an estimated $924 million over the next 10 years, depending on the amount of surplus power BPA sells and the market price of power.

The BPA said in a statement that the proposal would not affect rates in 2007, but did not rule out rate hikes after that.

“This administrative action will both reduce the federal deficit and provide BPA with needed financial flexibility to invest back into energy infrastructure and to pay down debt,’’ the statement said.

Bonneville, the federal power marketing agency based in Portland, Ore., supplies nearly half the electricity in the Pacific Northwest, most of it from a system of federal dams along the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Alex Conant, a spokesman for the White House budget office, said the plan would let the BPA make capital investments to improve service and reliability while making future rate hikes less likely.

But Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called the plan “government loan-sharking’’ and compared it to a mortgage lender requiring higher payments from those who earn above a certain income.

“This is a significant change that’s going to raise the power rates of customers in the Pacific Northwest by almost $1 billion in the next few years, and I will not let them do it,’’ Wyden said.


Blogger J. Marquis said...

Yeah, all of sudden the Bushies are starting to realize they have a limited amount of time to pay down the debt. I have a piece on my blog today about how they're going to cut Veterans benefits as part of the same effort. Bastards.

4:52 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

I lied. I don't have a piece about VA benefits. But it's true.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

I'm surprised there are still veteran's benefits to cut. Sorry, but every time of hear about veteran's benefits being cut, I think of all the right wing military people I know here in San Antonio who blindly defend anything Bush does. It makes me happy to think their benefits are being cut. I realize there are some liberal veterans, but 80% of miliutary families identify themselves as republicans.

I feel bad for the 20%, but I can't help but snicker at the 80% who support the dark side of the force.

9:36 PM  
Blogger 1138 said...

This is going to backfire BIGTIME.
It creates an incentive to waste rather than share.
I presonally don't know what the hell they could do with excess electrical power, dairy farmers just dump excess milk on the ground.

Sheryl, that's your evil side showing again.
The Government vilating a promise - especially one as grave as the ones you mention should never be a laughing matter.
I don't by the 80% number one bit.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

Hey Paul,

I just know what it would take for people like my military cousins or my former best friends parents to abandon the republican party. If anything will do it, it's seeing their benefits cut. Otherwise, they will just rationalize anything Bush does forever.

Whether you want to admit it or not, there is a very strong redneck constituency in the military who approve of authoritarian power structures. The military is no democracy, and it is not surprising that people who like that power structure could prefer it over democracy.

I know you are not that way, but I think you turn a blind eye to it.

And of course I have an evil side. In this case it would be rooted in an appreciation of irony. Watching people slit their own throats in an attempt to slit other's throats.

People like my cousins would support the republicans because they are afraid someone else might benefit from government benefits, so to see their benefits cut by the same people who they supported would be poetic justice. I would just as soon it worked selectively solely on people like my cousins, but it's not as if I am deciding one way or the other.

2:19 AM  
Blogger Damien said...

Maybe TX should just stop using the
electric chair so often (yeah I know its lethal injection, but I get to make a point here).

2:16 PM  
Blogger 1138 said...

I don't turn a blind eye.
I'm a moderate that grew up in it, and then worked in it myself.
The problem is that honest service people are not the vocal ones - the law silences the honest ones.

Your cousins are not among the honest.

5:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home