News Releases

Sen. Murray Helps Protect BPA Borrowing Authority In House-Senate Conference Report

Feb 13 2003

House to vote today, Senate to vote tomorrow on final FY 2003 Omnibus Conference Report

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - House and Senate negotiators, including Sen. Patty Murray, have agreed to retain provision that increases the Bonneville Power Administration's borrowing authority by $700 million in the final FY (fiscal year) 2003 Conference Report.

The Senate added borrowing authority during its consideration of the FY 2003 Omnibus Appropriations bill, and the provision was retained in conference. The House is expected to vote today and the Senate, tomorrow before the bill goes to the President to become law.

"I'm relieved that we prevailed over the House to retain BPA's borrowing authority," said Murray. "BPA's transmission system is the backbone of our region's economy. This new authority will help us make critical investments in our transmission system and meet BPA's other statutory obligations."

Under the amendment, BPA's current borrowing authority of $3.75 billion would be raised by an additional $700 million. BPA's borrowing authority was first established at $1.25 billion in the 1974 Transmission System Act and has been subsequently raised in 1983 and 1984.

Borrowing authority allows BPA to borrow money from the U.S. Treasury for the purpose of making long-term financial obligations such as investment in transmission and other statutory obligations. BPA then repays the Treasury with interest.

The new borrowing authority will allow BPA to make urgently needed investments in the region's transmission system. Points in the region's transmission system are operating at or beyond capacity. One part of the transmission investment will be the Hanford-Schulz line which will help implement one part of the Columbia River Biological Opinion that calls for more spill.

Due to the energy crisis of the past years and current low rainfall and snowpack, BPA is facing sever financial conditions. Without the increase in borrowing authority BPA would have had difficulty making these necessary transmission improvements.