Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Friday, February 18, 2005


Calls proposal a non-starter in Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig met today with Clay Sell, nominee for Deputy Secretary of Energy. Among the issues discussed was the Administration’s (BPA) proposal to charge “market” rates for electricity provided by Power Marketing Administrations, including the BPA.

The Administration’s budget includes a proposal to require the BPA to charge “market” rates for the power they sell. Analysts estimate it would increase rates 20 percent a year. While BPA only sells wholesale power, the costs will be passed on to the retail consumer.

Idaho Senator Larry Craig, the second-ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, echoed the unanimous cry of the Northwest’s Members of Congress, “This is a non-starter in Congress. I will not stand idly by and let the Northwest’s economy be hamstrung by BPA substantially raising power rates.”

Businesses have long claimed that the Northwest’s low-cost power, among the lowest in the nation, is a major draw for new businesses and new jobs.

Senator Pete Domenici, R-N.M., chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, stated, “I think the push to make Power Marketing Administrations charge market-based rates is politically untenable. Every once in awhile, administrations of either party come up with this idea and I won’t support it.”

Craig discussed the role of BPA,“BPA’s mission is to supply necessary, cost-based power to municipalities and rural electric co-ops in a region of the country that has not had many other economic advantages. Any claims that BPA’s power is subsidized should have been laid to rest when Congress refinanced BPA’s debt and repaid the Treasury an additional $100 million in 1996.”

Craig, Domenici, and the Bush Administration are working to increase domestic energy supply by enacting a comprehensive energy policy. Craig stated, “Our efforts need to be focused on passing an energy bill, effectively decreasing rates nationwide, rather than raising revenue at the expense of the Northwest’s economy.”

Clay Sell was recently nominated as Deputy Secretary. He still needs to be confirmed by the United States Senate.

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