Bipartisan political action is all but unheard of these days. Thankfully, that is not the case with two issues threatening to increase rural Oregonians’ electricity costs.
One issue originates at the federal level. State actions prompt the other. Both are linked by their potential to drive up the cost of the electricity the Bonneville Power Administration provides Oregon’s electric coops—including Central Electric. Elected officials from both parties have stepped up in opposition.
Sale of the BPA Transmission Assets
Detailed on pages 4 and 5, a Trump administration budget proposal would sell BPA’s transmission system, along with that of two other federal power marketing administrations. Twenty-one U.S. senators signed a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry opposing the proposal and touting its inconsistency with the president’s budgetary objectives.
“Federal power marketing is one of the few federal programs that not only fully pays its way, but actually provides benefits to the federal government’s balance sheet,” wrote the 14 Democrats—including Oregon’s Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley— and seven Republicans.
The 15 members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Oregon and Washington echoed that position in their letter to Perry and the U.S. Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney. Oregon’s sole Republican Congressman, Greg Walden, joined Democratic representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Kurt Schrader, Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio, and Washington’s six Democrats and four Republicans to urge the administration to work with the delegation to protect BPA.
Oregon Spill Lawsuit
A group of Oregon legislators put aside party considerations to urge Gov. Kate Brown to take a more collaborative stance when tackling Columbia River salmon restoration challenges. Prompted by a judge’s ruling, in the spring of 2018 there will be an expensive spill test at the river system’s federal dams. It will increase fish migration stream flows above previously agreed upon levels and decrease power production—an action that may harm fish by increasing their exposure to dissolved gasses produced by water turbulence.
Oregon is a party to the lawsuit that triggered the ruling. It challenges a recovery plan formed by consensus among
the federal agencies responsible for river operations, the other Northwest states and most of the region’s tribes. Oregon has consistently opposed the outcomes of this collaborative process.
A letter to the governor by Rep. Sherrie Sprenger of Salem was cosigned by five Democratic representatives and 22 of her fellow Republicans, including Central Oregon representatives Knute Buehler, Gene Whisnant and Mike McLane. The letter urges the governor to consider the economic and environmental impacts of a test that each year is estimated to cost BPA customers $40 million and increase carbon emissions 840,000 metric tons.
I am encouraged to see elected officials put partisanship aside and work together to protect the interests of those they serve.
President and CEO