Newhouse opposes Trump plan to sell BPA transmission system

One of three leaders on a bipartisan letter to the House Committee on the Budget opposing changes.

Associated Press

RICHLAND — A central Washington congressman says a Trump administration plan to sell off the transmission system of the Bonneville Power Administration would lead to higher electricity bills.

The Tri-City Herald reported that Rep. Dan Newhouse, a Republican, was one of three leaders on a bipartisan letter to the House Committee on the Budget opposing changes to the BPA system. The letter sent Wednesday was signed by 62 members of Congress.

Any sale of assets to private entities is likely to result in attempts by new owners to charge substantially increased transmission rates for the same service to BPA customers, the letter said.

The Trump administration has proposed the sell-off in its fiscal 2020 budget request to Congress. It would be a one-time federal debt-reduction move.

BPA is part of the U.S. Department of Energy, but is self-funding. It markets wholesale electric power, mostly from federal dams and the Energy Northwest nuclear power plant near Richland.

Money spent on infrastructure by BPA and three other federal Power Marketing Administrations are repaid with interest to the U.S. Treasury from electric rates set to fully recover taxpayer investments, the letter said.

“None of these costs are shouldered by taxpayers,” the letter said. “The entire BPA transmission system has generated approximately $30 billion in payments to the treasury.”

Privatization of the electric system would be particularly harmful to rural residents, as rural systems would be less attractive to private investors.

There could be widespread decreases in service or loss of access to an economical and stable power supply, the letter said.

BPA operates and maintains about three-quarters of the high-voltage transmission in its service territory, which includes Idaho, Oregon, Washington and some small parts of other nearby states. Most electricity used in the Tri-Cities comes from the BPA.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

Humpback whale hit by Mukilteo ferry, Chip, is presumed dead

The whale, age 3, has not been seen since being struck Monday. His companion was later seen alone.

State: Held up jobless claims to be resolved by end of month

Just under 35,000 people are still waiting for resolution of their claims for unemployment benefits.

Feds scrap plans to reintroduce grizzlies to North Cascades

An environmental group was disappointed by the decision but did not think it was the final word on the bears.

Mary Kay Letourneau, teacher jailed for raping student, dies

After prison, the Seattle teacher married her former student and they raised two daughters together.

Driver who hit protesters on I-5 charged with 3 felonies

Dawit Kelete, 27, is accused of vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and reckless driving.

11-year-old boy in Yakima shot twice in three days

The second time, his 9-year-old sister was also shot. Both survived.

Siberia wildfire smoke reaches Southcentral Alaska, islands

The wildfire smoke also has been reported in western Oregon and Canada.

3rd victim recovered from plane crash over Lake Coeur d’Alene

2 more bodies have been located at the bottom of the lake. 3 others are still missing.

Two die during Fourth of July celebrations in Skagit County

In one case, a kayaker was hit in the chest by a firework he ignited and fell into the water.

Most Read