Comments on Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act--H.R. 8157

EMD-81-28: Published: Oct 29, 1980. Publicly Released: Nov 7, 1980.

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The Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act broadens the Bonneville Power Administration's current authorities to market power from the Federal power system. It includes the authority to encourage conservation, and to acquire additional power from conventional, renewable, and other resources. It also provides for the protection, mitigation, and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources.

The legislation appears to be a substantial improvement over its predecessor. Section 4 of the bill provides for a council, whose responsibilities include preparing a demand forecast, planning to meet that demand, and assuring adequate public participation in the planning process. This is consistent with previous GAO recommendations. The bill is also consistent with prior recommendations in that it charges Bonneville with the responsibility for working with State and regional interests to conserve electric power, to develop renewable energy sources, and to increase public involvement in power planning and policy making. While it does not direct that Bonneville or its customer utilities use specific rate structures or billing practices to show consumers the cost of new power supplies, it does include many provisions which could ultimately lead to rate reforms. The planning and review requirments of the bill include regional demand forecasting, cost-effective resource planning, planning criteria emphasizing conservation and renewable resources, and comprehensive reviews prerequisite to major resource acquisitions. The resource priorities established in section 4 would assure that cost-effective conservation and renewable resources would be pursued before thermal powerplants. The bill also requires contract provisions that intend Bonneville to contract in a prudent manner and to exercise as much control over the construction and operation of the powerplants it sponsors as is feasible.

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