News Releases

(SEATTLE) - Today, in a major policy address to the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Senator Patty Murray joined Gary Zarker of Seattle City Light and Tim Hogan of Puget Sound Energy to outline the energy challenges facing Washington state. Senator Murray highlighted both short-term and long-term choices that must be made to ease the energy crisis.

"To emerge from this crisis, we need to make immediate decisions about conservation, siting new plants, temporary price caps, and curtailment. We also have to consider how our future energy supply would be affected by Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs), deregulation, and diversifying our power supply," Murray said.

Senator Murray expressed concern about two long-term issues in particular: RTOs and deregulation.

Murray raised questions about the effectiveness of RTOs in Washington state, given the region's unique energy structure. While RTOs are attractive in areas with dozens of different transmission line owners, such as the Northeast, it is a much different situation in the Northwest, where BPA owns 80% of the lines. "I'm concerned that the RTO is moving forward without any public discussion of its cost, benefit and impact on prices," Murray said.

Murray also raised concerns about the effects of deregulation. Murray expressed concern about treating energy in the same manner as cable and telephone services. Given the crisis perpetuated by California's deregulation experience, Murray warned that Washington must proceed with caution. "To me, energy is so vital to every aspect of our economy that we cannot afford and don't want the dramatic and unforseen fluctuations in energy prices that come with deregulation."

"The choices we make will have consequences, and we've got to start discussing the issues that are currently under the radar screen," Murray continued. "As I look at these decisions, I'll keep in mind four principles. We need to protect BPA's affordable power to our region. We need temporary price caps and aggressive conservation. We need to diversify our energy sources. And we need federal tax incentives to spur alternative energy."