News Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) and the Senate Appropriations Committee’s approval of legislation halting a Bush Administration plan that would have forced the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to raise Northwest electricity rates. The amendment, introduced in the Committee today by Craig (R-ID), showed the bipartisan dedication of the Pacific Northwest Congressional delegation to protecting Northwest businesses and communities.

Earlier this spring, Cantwell and other Northwest members of the Senate Energy Committee met with Energy Secretary Sam Bodman to express opposition to the plan and question the Administration’s legal authority to pursue the proposal. Cantwell also launched a petition, now signed by more than 9,000 ratepayers, opposing the Bush Administration’s rate hike plan. Murray, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was instrumental in securing the language, which prohibits any change to BPA rate policies until April 1, 2007.

Murray, a member of the Appropriations Committee, stated, “I am pleased that the Senate Appropriations Committee listened to the needs of Pacific Northwest ratepayers and rejected the Administration’s unfair and short-sighted proposal. This victory is a tribute to the cohesive efforts of the Pacific Northwest delegation.”

“This is great news for businesses and families across Washington state and the entire Pacific Northwest,” said Cantwell, a member of the Senate Energy Committee. “This rate-hike plan had no place in the budget process, and I will continue working to make sure Washington’s ratepayers get the fair, honest treatment they deserve.”

Cantwell and Murray helped stop a similar BPA rate hike proposal last year. This year, the Bush Administration is trying to implement the rate hike without Congressional approval. The plan would reverse a decades-old BPA policy of using revenue from surplus power sales to lower electricity rates for consumers in the Pacific Northwest. In meetings with President Bush and Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, and in letters to Congressional and administration officials, the Northwest Senate delegation has made it clear that they will fight the plan every step of the way. Today’s action represents another important win for Pacific Northwest ratepayers.