Sent to Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, and Doc Hastings.
I received the following letter from Benton REA:
For more than 70 years electric cooperatives have partnered with the nation's Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs), which includes the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). The purpose of the PMAs is to market the electricity generated at federal dams. The dams and the energy they produce serve millions of Americans from the Deep South to the Pacific Northwest. From the outset, the dams have provided flood control, recreation and electric power, all critical elements necessary to foster economic stability to adjacent communities. As public works projects, the sale of electricity generated at the dams paid for them, without negatively impacting other taxpayers. The electricity from the dams is delivered to end users through their member owned electric cooperatives or municipal utilities.
Electric cooperatives like Benton REA deliver affordable, reliable electric power from the PMAs and help the member/owners solve problems locally. A proposal by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will alter the mission of the PMAs, and will threaten Benton REAâ(TM)s ability to continue delivery of affordable, reliable electric power. In March, Sec. Chu served notice that PMAs would serve as laboratories to test various energy initiatives. These energy initiatives will increase the cost and could adversely affect the reliability of power provided by the PMAs.
Electric cooperative members, including members of Benton REA will pay the additional cost of these energy initiatives while consumers elsewhere would receive any benefits. The Board and I, along with many other co-op leaders in our state, don't believe the BPA should be a laboratory for experimental energy initiatives. We do not believe that the mission of the BPA should be changed, especially if there is potential to negatively affect the rates or reliability of the power we purchase from BPA. Please take a few minutes to contact Congressman Doc Hastings, Senator Maria Cantwell and Senator Patty Murray and let your views on Secretary of Energy Steven Chuâ(TM)s proposal be known. We will do our best to protect low cost, reliable, and renewable hydropower for you and other northwest ratepayers. I will keep you informed of any changes as we work to resolve this matter.
General Manager, Benton REA
We have laboratories dedicated to research of renewable fuels. I recently toured Pacific Northwest National Laborator's renewable fuels program. There are numerous other Department of Energy labs throughout the country, http://energy.gov/offices.
It is the DOE's responsibility, through their labs, not rural electric cooperatives and associations, to research new energies for the nation. It is fine for rural groups to research on their own, but not to be mandated to do so which would raise local rates. Further, the DOE already has the National Renewable Energy Laboratory dedicated to such things. This is a misuse of a resource that should be left as it is. We've already seen rises in electricity costs due to maintenance issues coming up that were inadequately planned for, we don't need to fund the nation's research as well.