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BPA: No increase in wholesale power rates, but surcharge likely

The Bonneville Power Administration won’t increase wholesale power rates for next two years but warns that a surcharge could be implemented in November to maintain cash balances.

Wholesale base power rates will remain at $35.62 per megawatt-hour, the federal power marketing agency announced Thursday.

The average transmission rate, which reflects the cost to move hydroelectric power from where it’s generated to where it’s used, will increase by 3.6 percent for the two-year period that starts Oct. 1.

In 2017, Clark Public Utilities purchased 63 percent of its electricity from BPA. Despite previous increases in BPA rates — including a 9 percent hike in 2013 — the public utility district hasn’t raised electricity rates in eight years.

BPA said keeping wholesale rates stable is largely due to finding $66 million a year in cost savings.

“Through collaboration with our customers and partners throughout the region, we have worked hard to bend the cost curve and keep base power rates flat,” BPA Administrator Elliot Mainzer said in a statement.

The rates will be sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval. The approval process can take several months to a year, but BPA can apply the rates, beginning Oct. 1, once it receives interim approval from the commission.

BPA cautioned there is an “increasing likelihood” that a financial reserves surcharge will be implemented in November.

The surcharge was established so BPA maintains at least a 60-day cash balance for both its power and transmission business lines. If the surcharge is implemented, power rates would increase by up to 1.5 percent for the two-year period.

“We want to signal this to our customers because it is consistent with our commitment to transparency and financial discipline,” Mainzer said in the statement.

According to BPA, the likely surcharge is below the rate of inflation and less than the 2.9 percent increase in wholesale power rates it initially proposed in December.


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