SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES, AGRICULTURE, SALMON AND WATER

 

 

January 12, 2001   Hearing Room B

8:00 AM    Tapes  3 – 4

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:            Sen. Ken Messerle, Chair

Sen. Frank Shields, Vice-Chair

Sen. Bill Fisher

Sen. Ginny Burdick

Sen. Jason Atkinson

Sen. Roger Beyer

Sen. Ryan Deckert

 

STAFF PRESENT:                  Judith Callens, Committee Administrator

Patricia Nielsen, Committee Assistant

 

MEASURE/ISSUES HEARD: Informational Meeting / Regional electric power update, Northwest Power Planning Council

 

These minutes are in compliance with Senate and House Rules.  Only text enclosed in quotation marks reports a speaker’s exact words.  For complete contents, please refer to the tapes.

 

TAPE/#

Speaker

Comments

TAPE 3, A

004

Chair Messerle

Opens meeting at 8:04 a.m. as subcommittee.  Opens informational meeting for briefing on regional electric power update.

REGIONAL ELECTRIC POWER UPDATE

010

Eric Bloch

Council Member, Northwest Power Planning Council (NWPPC).  Introduces his presentation as a description of the energy situation, and the potential impacts on fish recovery and other river uses.  Continues his presentation, with questions from the members.

041

Chair Messerle

Asks for clarification of damage on listed stocks of salmon from river uses, such as hydroelectric generation, irrigation and navigation traffic.

044

Bloch

Responds.

058

Sen. R. Beyer

Asks where the figure came from.

060

Bloch

Responds.

070

Chair Messerle

Asks how any make it to ocean if predation is considered.

073

Bloch

Responds.

078

Sen. R. Beyer

Asks why there are strong runs of some salmon upriver from the dams.

087

Bloch

Explains the process of all cumulative impacts on fish runs.

112

Chair Messerle

A quorum being present, opens full committee meeting at 8:12 a.m.

115

Bloch

Continues presentation, describing benefits from a developed Columbia River.

143

Bloch

Continues presentation, explaining fish-friendly operations.

175

Chair Messerle

Asks whether the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) authority is as consultant, or advisor.

180

Bloch

Summarizes NMFS role and authority.

224

Chair Messerle

Asks who in NMFS makes decisions about biological impacts of actions on listed species, and whether there is any recourse from the decisions.

230

Bloch

Describes the collaboration between the listing agency and action agency.

250

Chair Messerle

Expresses concern that state decision-makers become less effective because of federal decisions.

263

Sen. Shields

Asks for a specific example of listing process.

273

Bloch

Summarizes the operation of the Columbia River hydroelectric system.

363

Sen. Shields

Requests additional clarification about the process of listing of fish species.

380

Bloch

Responds and explains.

407

Chair Messerle

Asks whether the process stops if there is an emergency power situation.

440

Bloch

Responds and continues explanation.

TAPE 4, A

050

Bloch

Continues explanation.  Refers to (EXHIBIT A).

075

Sen. Burdick

Asks for examples of list items.

070

Bloch

Responds and refers to submitted written material.

136

Sen. Fisher

Asks for clarification of acronyms used in written material.

140

Bloch

Responds.

145

Chair Messerle

Inquires if dollar value of lost power generation during spills done for benefit of fisheries has been calculated.

150

Bloch

Responds.

200

Chair Messerle

Asks whether the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is actually running more because it is required to send power to California.

217

Bloch

Replies.

252

Chair Messerle

Requests clarification whether, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) required BPA to send power to California, BPA was required to draw down reservoirs in order to generate enough power.

260

Bloch

Responds.  We sell them power.  NW peak is in winter.

310

Chair Messerle

Asks whether this year is different for power trading with California, because California this year can’t generate enough power for itself, partly due to deregulation.

325

Chair Messerle

Requests the economist’s view on the situation with public utility districts (PUDs), because of the price of electrical power.

335

Bloch

Answers.

420

Sen. Burdick

Inquires whether PUDs, which are now victims of high spot market wholesale prices, can come to BPA and claim preference rates?

Tape 3, B

020

Bloch

Responds that BP is fully subscribed.

026

Sen. Burdick

Asks whether when other contracts expire, utility company customers can then exercise preference rights?

032

Bloch

Confirms.

034

Sen. Burdick

Inquires whether these expirations are staggered, or come all at once.

037

Bloch

Responds.

050

Chair Messerle

Clarifies that the purpose of the Columbia River Governance is to develop a coalition, to achieve more political power, to maintain that preference for the northwest.  The fear is that power will be sent elsewhere, such as the midwest, or that we will be required to match rates of other regions, such as California or the eastern U.S.

060

Deckert

Asks whether governors who are meeting in California are talking about rate gaps, and what Council’s plan is.

065

Bloch

Clarifies.

134

Chair Messerle

Elaborates that deregulation works fine if there is surplus supply, which is not the case now.  Notes that we are not building up water so we can deal with potential market problems.  Asks how we can get out of the situation, and what it will do to our utilities in the short term.  Asks whether some customers will not have service, or have such expensive service that they will not operate, and how severe the situation is.

168

Bloch

Acknowledges the question, but has insufficient information to answer.

183

Sen. Fisher

Asks who is making windfall profits, and who is paying for that.  Expresses concern that customers will have to pay.

215

Chair Messerle

Acknowledges issues, and urges committee to plan to consider carefully what action it will take.  Raises concern that the northwest is growing, but not generating more power to keep pace with that growth.

220

Deckert

Points out that there is information available about what entities are benefiting in the current surplus and non-surplus environment.

234

Tom O’Connor

Executive Director, Oregon Municipal Electric Utilities.  Represents small and mid-size municipal utilities in Oregon.  Responds by encouraging the committee to continue asking questions.

286

Sen. Burdick

Asks for examples of utilities that are being harmed by the market conditions.

289

O’Connor

Responds.

319

Chair Messerle

Notes that the information doesn’t even consider private companies.

323

Sen. Fisher

Observes that in 1993, Idaho Power said 15 percent of their bill to customers was the fish-related cost of generating the power.  Asks what the percentage is now attributable to the fish recovery process.

340

Bloch

Offers to obtain information for the committee.

358

Sen. Fisher

Expresses additional concern about costs of fish recovery.

359

Bloch

Responds.

412

Chair Messerle

Asks about options these small utility companies, and how to resolve some of the situations.

422

O’Connor

Elaborates.

Tape 4, B

050

Sen. Burdick

Asks what conservation efforts municipal utilities are using, and what benefits they have if programs are effective.

060

O’Connor

Illustrates.

070

Chair Messerle

Inquires about capacity for transmission of power, whether a problem is developing, and what is the capacity with natural gas.  Asks whether more coal generating plants are needed.

080

Bloch

Clarifies.

090

Sen. Fisher

Comments that gas prices are high.

091

Sen. Shields

Asks whether the electric infrastructure could be used to put peak-hour pricing in place.

118

O’Connor

Describes current pricing structure.

144

Sen. Fisher

Again asks about who is making windfall profits in the energy crisis.  Asks for information about hedging buying or stranded costs.

160

O’Connor

Explains.

210

Bloch

Explains further.

247

Chair Messerle

Observes that at this time, BPA has $800 million surplus fund, but if there is a cold dry spring the reserve could be gone.  If there is a warm wet spring it could increase.  The market is fluctuating.  Expresses interest in learning who is gaining and losing in the process.

262

Sen. Fisher

Asks how much it would cost to meter and charge a toll for heavy use time.

269

O’Connor

Offers to bring information to the committee.

278

Deckert

Asserts concern that if FERC abdicates its responsibility, in our dispersed political climate, we lose.  Asks how Oregon’s interests will be represented in that process.

190

Bloch

Answers.

339

Chair Messerle

Points out to the committee that it doesn’t have direction to deal with the energy problem at this time.  Encourages the committee to also get involved in regulatory issues, such as siting or putting in gas lines.

354

Sen. Burdick

Asks whether anything should be done to prevent some direct-service industries, such as Keyser Aluminum, from shutting down and selling their power instead.

365

Bloch

Describes the re-marketing process.

430

Chair Messerle

Agrees that excess supply should go back into system, and observes that new contracts should tie surplus into requirement to build more generation.


 

440

Chair Messerle

Adjourns meeting at 9:55 a.m.

 

Submitted By,                        Reviewed By,

 

 

 

Patricia Nielsen,                        Judith Callens,

Committee Assistant                        Committee Administrator

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

A – List of FCRPS Operations, Eric Bloch, 1 p