News Releases

Murray Stands Up for Washington State Ratepayers

Feb 10 2005

At press conference with Senator Cantwell, public utility representatives, Murray says plan to hike energy rates is bad for NW business, families

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today stood with her colleague Senator Maria Cantwell and representatives of Northwest public utilities to denounce an Administration plan that would increase energy costs for Northwest ratepayers and halt the region’s economic recovery.



Murray refuted claims made by OMB Director Joshua Bolten at yesterday’s Senate Budget Committee hearing that a 20 percent increase to Northwest ratepayers is a “modest increase.”



“There is nothing ‘modest’ about the effects this plan would have on Washington state families and businesses,” Murray said today. “In fact, despite the President’s rhetoric, this plan – one of his top budget priorities - is both anti-business, and anti-family. A twenty percent increase in the cost of heating our homes and powering our businesses would cripple the economy in the Pacific Northwest.”


Senator Murray has consistently fought for legislation to punish companies that engage in energy market manipulation, and has stood up against attempts by federal regulators to impose a Standard Market Design on the Northwest energy system.

Senator Murray’s complete remarks follow:

“Thank you, Senator Cantwell.

And thank you to all our public utility representatives who have joined us today to tell the President that his proposal to pay for the deficit on the backs of Northwest ratepayers will not stand.

It is also important to note that the President’s proposal will impact 3 other power marketing administrations that serve an additional 29 states. So, we will not be alone in our opposition.

Yesterday, I told the President’s Budget Director that I would not stand by and let this Administration enact proposals that will hurt Washington state ratepayers and put economic recovery in jeopardy. And do you know what he told me? He said that a 20 percent rate increase was and I quote – a “modest increase.” There is nothing “modest” about the effects this plan would have on Washington state families and businesses.

In fact, despite the President’s rhetoric, this plan – one of his top budget priorities is both anti-business, and anti-family. A twenty percent increase in the cost of heating our homes and providing electricity to many businesses that rely on it will cripple the economy in the Pacific Northwest.



We are just beginning to drag out of the economic damages left by the electricity crisis of the past four years and we will not stand by and allow the Administration to drag us down again. But the Administration’s plans for BPA don’t end with this unfair increase.



If you look further into his budget, you see the true intent of the Administration to push BPA and other PMAs into privatization. They have also proposed to hold certain financial transactions, such as third party financing, against BPA’s borrowing authority limit. These kinds of proposals are going to cripple BPA’s ability to meet their investment needs and upgrade our power generators.



You know, two years ago, President Bush came out to Washington state and stood on Ice Harbor Dam. He promised to recover our salmon runs while protecting the dams, because he said they were important to the economy of the Northwest. Well, the President was right. But his proposals are dead wrong. His budget shows his true intentions. Stripping away our cost-based rates and crippling our ability to build and maintain transmission and generation is undermining the Northwest ratepayers.



But, Northwest ratepayers – and Northwest Senators – are not going to sit back and take this. We will continue to stand up and fight these bad policies and make sure that the financial mistakes of this Administration are not paid for on the backs of Northwest ratepayers.”