CRPUD Board Absorbs Spill Surcharge

At their May 15 meeting, the Columbia River PUD Board of Directors agreed to absorb an added charge of $113,000 for wholesale power costs, without raising customer rates.

“Our staff has done an excellent job of controlling expenses this year, and we have sufficient cash reserves to be able to absorb this added expense without impacting customers,” said Board President Jake Carter. “It’s the right thing to do.”

The PUD’s wholesale power provider, Bonneville Power Administration, recently announced that it needed to collect an additional $10.2 million from CRPUD and other wholesale customers for the months of June through September of this year. The added charges are to help BPA recoup some of the costs of a court-ordered increase in the amount of water that is sent down the spillways at the dams instead of through the turbines to generate electricity. The increased spill is intended to speed the passage of juvenile salmon as they migrate downriver and out to sea.

The total cost of the added spill for 2018 is estimated at $38.6 million. BPA made internal cost reductions to offset a portion of the cost, and expects increasing revenues from their sales into the wholesale market to also offset a portion of the cost. BPA will undergo a similar review in 2019 to determine whether another spill surcharge will be necessary.

The spill surcharge is a small portion of the total cost of the fish & wildlife programs that are funded through BPA’s wholesale power rates. The total amount spent is about $700 million annually.