Cantwell wants line held
Washington senator Maria Cantwell is promising to block administration efforts to raise Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) rates for electricity, changing them from cost to market based rates. “This proposal would turn the lights out on the northwest economy,” Cantwell said at a March 3 hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in Washington, D.C.
A member of the committee, Cantwell and other northwest legislators say the Bush administration proposal would increase power costs in the region by $1.7 billion, and that could cost some Washington residents an additional $480 a year. “Taking money out of working families’ pockets, causing job loss and forcing businesses to leave the northwest is exactly the opposite of sound economic policy,” she said.
While the chairman of the senate budget committee has said the proposal will not be included in the 2006 senate federal budget resolution, energy secretary Sam Bodman said at the recent hearing that the Bush administration will continue to push the plan, which he said removes unfair government subsidies and creates a “more level playing field for the wholesale power market.”
The administration’s budget proposal for 2006 proposes legislation that would increase BPA rates gradually until they match rates charged in other national energy markets. BPA, the major energy provider for the region, sets rates based on cost recovery, substantially less than market-based rates.