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June 28, 2001     Quad City Herald
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June 28, 2001
 

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page 8 :.: JuP~- 28 2001 Quad City. Herald The new genwators installed by Ok-,nogsn County PUD organizers are couple of weeks, Cheryl Schweizer photo scheduled to go into operation in a The price of electricity is a topic of But then again, it may not. spring; PUD manager Harlan Warner lively (and sometimes bitter)Thel6genemtorsarebeinginslalled said they are projected to be at near- conversation these days, all over the at a site on Old 97 about five miles recordlowsalongtheColumbiaRiver. West. Deregulation, demand, supply, northeast of Brewster. Some are being Thegenemtorswerepurchasedtomake generation, investment---it'sall tangled tested now; they are expected to go into up the difference from Wells Dam, but together, like octopuses involved in service in about two weeks, said PUD PUDofficialsplannedtosellanyexcess some sort ofcoUision, andifone thing assistant manager Rich Trimble. The electricity, which would help pay for changes it affects everything else, construction cost is about $12 million; the project. "We are still hoping and It's all ve|'y confusing, andnotonly the PUD issued $10 million in bonds to expectingthatwecandothat,"Trimble for consumers, pay part of the construction cost, said. But. Last week the Federal Energy Trimble said. But it costs mo/'e to The price controls affect the spot Regulatory Commission placed price generateelectricityusingdiesei,hesaid, market, which invoives a sale made 24 caps on electricity sales on the spot which will add to the project cost. hours or less before delivery. The cap markeLThismay affectplansbypublic The diesels were purchased because will be based on the cost of generating utility districts in the Pacific it is projected that Wells Dam will not electricity from the most inefficient Northwest---including the Okanogan be able to produce the normal amount producers.Butwhichonesareoperating County PUD--to sell electricity ofelectricity.Riverflowsareprojected and which ones are not may change genemted by diesei-fu'ed power plants to be well below normal because of from day to day, so the prices--and the that are under construction now. drought, in spite of a relatively wet price caps---could change from day to day, or even between morning and afternoon, Warner said. "I would conclude it's too early to tell" what affect the price caps will have, he said. Electrical prices later this year also will be affected by an announced rate increase by the Bonneville Power Administration, which controls a major part of the hydro system. It supplies most of the electricity to a lot of Northwest uNities---including Okanogan County PUD. Earlier this year BPA officials warned that a price increase would be necessary when new conu'actstook effect in October: the projected drought and the ctr, ic market in Califomiahad combined to di. ombobulate prices throughout the West. The only thing anybody knew for sure was that prices probably would be increasing---maybe a lot, maybe 250 percent, maybe 400 percent or more. TheBPAofficialssakitheyw the percent of increase in June. And in f;~t there wasananlkot]ncemenL about two weeksago. Atapressconti rence, BPA officials .said prices would increase about 75 percent. Andthe increase might behigh n'than that, if stringent con zrvalion measures were not implemenled. Conservation havebeen disc all year; among ot things,public utility districts were askedtoreducecomunaption by 10 percent and return that 10 percent to BPA. That looked like the announcement everybody had been waiting for. but it warn" t That is expected this week, Warner said. But probably the BPA increase will be less than 100 percent. "It's nice that they're no( using 300 and 400 percent anymore:'Trimblesaid. But that will mean rate increases for utilities that use BPA electricity. Trimble said that he thinks the long- term problem will remain, at least until the drought ends and supply problems ease in California. While other things-- policy, politics, environmental considerations--play a role, the situation is "driven by weather," Trimble said. as county commits to load reduction Public Utility District #1 of Douglas County and the Bonneville Power Administration signed an agreement June 22 that will reduce Douglas" power purchases from BPA by 5 percent, or 10 average megawatts, during October, Novemberand December for two years starting October 2001"Electric customers in the northwest states are facing huge role increases as a result of inadequate power supply and high wholesale prices," said Douglas County PUD Manager Bill Dobbins. "Douglas PUD is pleased to play a role in the load reduction solution. This purchase reducti(m will help BPA offer lower Vales to iLs other customers wilhoul jeopardizing the power supply for Douglas County." Steve Wright, BPA's acting administrator, praised the utility's commitment, saying, "Douglas county PUD has taken a significant step toward conservation and load reduction and by doing so it is helping reduce the rate increase planned for Oct. 1. Douglas is doing its part. and we hope that other utilities will do the same." Douglas owns shares of dams on the Okanogan mid-Columbia River that produce enough power to meet the PUD's customer requirements. In 1998 Douglas purchased a block of power form BPA to supplement its own supply. Although Douglas was not obligated to reduce its purchases from BPA, it has agreed to return a portion of the power it purchased in 1998. BPA's goal is to reduce loads for the next two years so the agency does not have to buy power in the extremely expensive wholesale market, which could reused in far higher i electricity rates for Northwest ratepayers. BPA expects that within two years sufficient new generation will have come online so market prices will stabilize. Consumers can help by conserving as much electricity as possible. On June 5, BPA announced that the region's federal electricity system is headed for wholesale rate increases of 150 percent or more beginning Oct. 1 :; unless its industrial and utility , customers make additional commitments to reduce energy use by the agency's June 22 deadline. to reduce power purchase Okanogan County PUD Commission agreed to sign a load reduction agreement with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to reduce the electrical power purchased from the BPA system by 5.2 megawatts. This equals 10% of the power the PUD purchases from BPA. This action supports the BPA effort to keep the October 1, 2001 BPA rate increase below 100% by reducing the need for BPA to purchase power at high market prices. This action comes at an extremely difficult time for Okanogan PUD customers. The County economy is struggling and the fruit industry is in a sharp decline. The PUD has already raised rates 30% April 1st. Expanded conservation programs, depleted cash reserves and borrowed funds to address the powershortage brought on by the near-record drought. Okanogan PUD Manager Harlan Warner slated that "In spite of these adversities, it is imperative that Okanogan join with other BPA customers to avert the devastating increases projected by BPA." Brewster Bridgeport Pateros Mansfield BEAUTY PARLORS CARPET CLEANING S ;E TOWING SURVEYORS Men's & ]Bar-Shell Services ] Tri River ,g,| t[31. HairCare I Professional Janitorial Services ] Rental Storage It t I (509)686-3345 I Highway 97 - Brewster I " Across from Boeso, Motors Towing fi ffuto Wrecking .o,s Services GPS Surveying. Topograghic [ "~,) y ~t [ RX-20 Rotary] ] Surveying. Utility Verifu:~ition and Location I Jet Extractor I ] sse 3o32 Br.=er& Bri~eport I 24-HOUR SERVICE Mapping o Legal and Boundary Surveyin, . 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