President Donald Trump’s new budget proposal — a kind of a wish list presidents submit to Congress — contains a plan to sell off transmission assets that are publicly owned and currently operated by institutions like the Bonneville Power Administration.
Public power companies, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive, may be alarmed at the idea of selling infrastructure built with federal funding and paid for by ratepayers.
There are four federal Power Marketing Administrations within the Department of Energy, which market and deliver power in 34 U.S. states: the BPA, the Southeastern Power Administration, the Southwestern Power Administration and the Western Area Power Administration.
Bonneville, for example, operates 75 percent of the Pacific Northwest’s high voltage transmission, which carries hydropower from the dams of the Columbia River Basin’s 31 dams and fuels the region and load centers in energy-hungry California.
According to The Oregonian, Trump’s budget would raise nearly $5 billion for the Treasury Department by selling BPA’s power lines from 2018 to 2027.
The PMAs create annual revenue for the government by selling electricity. The Southwestern Power Administration averages about $100 million per year. Southeastern Power Administration’s annual revenue from the sale of hydroelectric power is about $200 million. WAPA has annual revenues exceeding $1.3 billion.