BPA reduces Montana Intertie rate, but more action is needed

NW Energy Coalition welcomes BPA recognition of barriers to development of renewable energy in Montana

SEATTLE, Washington — Yesterday the Bonneville Power Administration announced that its 2018-19 rates will include a fifteen percent reduction in the Montana Intertie rate – a $2 per MWh charge that applies to a 90-mile section of power lines between Townsend and Garrison, Montana.

The reduction represents a welcome change from a draft issued in June. At that time, the NW Energy Coalition and other organizations criticized the intertie rate as a significant barrier to the transmission of clean, renewable energy from Montana wind farms to metropolitan areas in western Washington and Oregon.

As a result of the intertie rate and other barriers that raise the cost of renewable energy, less than 10% of the intertie’s capacity is currently in use. The situation has caused policymakers from Montana, Washington, and Oregon to call for the elimination of the intertie rate in order to benefit the environment and spur economic development in Montana.

Fred Heutte, senior policy analyst at the NW Energy Coalition, observed, “The fifteen percent reduction in the rate probably won’t greatly increase use of the intertie. But, the fact that BPA changed direction and took some action at least acknowledges the issue and holds out the possibility for further progress.”

Heutte’s conclusion was supported by the BPA statement, which said the agency “will actively engage in a process to address barriers to the development of renewable resource in Montana. Stay tuned for more details on this process.”

Details of the BPA Record of Decision are available on the BPA website at https://www.bpa.gov/Finance/Rate Cases/BP-18/Pages/default.aspx.