The federal lawmakers say a sale of Bonneville Power Administration transmission lines would raise electricity rates. BPA is an important supplier of electricity to Washington’s utilities.
The Trump administration’s proposal to sell off the Pacific Northwest’s Bonneville Power Administration transmission grid is meeting bipartisan resistance from 21 Republican and Democratic senators who sent a letter on Wednesday to the Energy Department.
The sale of BPA and other federal power-transmission assets would result in higher electricity rates that would “take money out of the pockets of consumers and businesses in our states,” the letter states. Those who signed the letter included Washington Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray.
BPA is a self-funded nonprofit that markets wholesale power from 31 federal hydroelectric projects in the Northwest, as well as the Columbia Generating Station nuclear-power plant near Richland. It operates almost 75 percent of the high-voltage transmission in its service area that includes Oregon, Washington and Montana.
BPA is an important supplier of electricity to Washington’s utilities, including Seattle City Light, Tacoma Power and the Snohomish County Public Utility District.
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The Trump Administration, in its 2018 budget proposal released last month, called for the federal Energy Department to auction off the transmission assets, which the senators in their letter called “the backbone of the electric grid in their states.”
The senators said in their letter that any private group buying federal assets would want to recover their investment by raising rates.
Other transmission assets proposed for sale are the Southeastern Power Administration, the Southwestern Power Administration and the Western Area Power Administration.