News Releases

Senators Challenge Short-sighted Plan to Sell Portions of Department of Energy’s Power Marketing Administrations 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and a bipartisan group of Western senators voiced their strong opposition to a provision in the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request to auction off the transmission assets of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and other Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) through the Department of Energy.

“[Bonneville Power Administration and other PMAs] have provided reliable and affordable electric service and are crucially important to rural communities in our states. Sale of the PMAs transmission facilities would not advance the President’s infrastructure objectives.  In fact, privatization of existing assets could affect opportunities for new infrastructure investments. Moreover, any private entity buying PMA assets will want to recover their investment.  The resulting rate increases would take money out of the pockets of consumers and businesses in our states,” the Senators said in their letter to Secretary Perry.

The letter concludes by stating, “There are improvements that can and should be made to the operations of some PMAs, but the dismantling of them is simply not sound governmental policy.  Instead, we look forward to working with you to make needed investments in PMA infrastructure and ensuring the future value of this important federal asset.”

BPA markets and transmits power generated at 31 federal hydropower projects, the Columbia Generating Station, and several other non-federal power plants, primarily to rural electric cooperatives and public power utilities serving consumers throughout the Pacific Northwest. BPA also operates and maintains nearly three-fourths of the high-voltage transmission throughout Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, as well as parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana.

In addition to Senators Cantwell and Murray, the letter was also signed by Senators John Barrasso (R- WY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Boozman (R-AR), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The full letter to Secretary Perry can be found here