NWEC condemns BPA divestiture proposal

Trump Budget calls for sale of BPA transmission assets

Seattle, Wa. —  According to a report published by E&E News, the Trump administration’s expanded budget request, due to be released today, will call for extensive budget cuts for the U.S. EPA, the Interior Department, and the Energy Department.  Prominent among those cuts is a proposal to “divest” the Bonneville Power Administration’s transmission assets.

The NW Energy Coalition condemns this effort to effectively dismantle BPA and sell off public assets that form the backbone of the Northwest’s electric system – the cleanest and most affordable in the nation.

“At a time when economic and environmental priorities point to the need for greater integration and efficiency in electricity generation and transmission, this proposal goes in the opposite direction by threatening to fragment the Northwest energy system and increase costs for customers,” commented Wendy Gerlitz, NW Energy Coalition policy director.  “BPA plays a fundamental role in bringing stability to the energy system and in helping to achieve increased cooperation among stakeholders to better serve the Northwest’s energy needs as we go forward.”

NW Energy Coalition executive director Nancy Hirsh said she hopes that the congressional delegations from Northwest states will be united in their opposition to administration’s proposal.

“Maintaining the integrity of BPA is an issue that unites our region, “ said Hirsh.  “Legislators from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana have an understanding of BPA’s unique place in the economy and culture of the Northwest.  That understanding sometimes isn’t shared by the authors of proposals such as this one.  BPA manages the large majority of the transmission grid that distributers clean energy for the benefit of the entire Northwest.  Selling off those assets is a bad idea that was rejected in past years and Congress should reject it again”

According to the E&E News report, the proposed divestiture originated with two Washington DC-based, conservative-leaning think tanks that have been influential in the formation of Trump administration policy.   In line with their recommendations, the administration’s proposal also calls for auctioning off assets from the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) and the Southeastern Power Administration.

The administration claims that the sale of assets from BPA, WAPA and the Southeastern Power Administration will help offset the federal deficit.  However, Fred Heutte, senior policy associate at the NW Energy Coalition points out that, “Because BPA is a self-supporting business and makes annual payments to the federal government to pay down its debt, any revenue from the sale of its transmission assets would be a one-time fix.”

The NW Energy Coalition encourages citizens, business owners, legislators, and advocates to contact their federal representatives to express their opposition to a measure that would do serious and long-term damage to the Northwest power system in return for a one-time money grab.

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