HYDROELECTRIC POWER ENGINEERS might fare all right. But office
administrators could face staff reductions of up to 50 percent.
Such are the recommendations filed March 10 by the Cost Review Management Committee assigned to recommend measures to the Bonneville Power Administration for its own internal cost review. Initiated by the governors of Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho, with oversight by the Northwest Power Planning Council, the committee was asked to study BPA's internal cost structure and recommend changes for internal management to ensure that BPA will can compete in long-term power and transmission markets in the years 2002-2006.
The cost review appears to be aimed more at preserving BPA as a player in the Pacific Northwest, rather than leveling the playing field. As the committee noted, BPA was to begin a subscription process in July to line up new long-term power sales contracts. The committee wanted to assure success in that effort, but saw utilities as "unlikely" to buy from BPA in the long-term unless BPA could reduce its cost structure. Overall, the committee suggested a return to basics:
HYDROPOWER. Return BPA to its historic role of marketing
and transmitting power produced by the Federal Columbia River Power System.
NEW GENERATION. End BPA's responsibility to acquire energy resources to meet load growth of customers.
CONSERVATION. Limit BPA's financial support of conservation
projects to current contractual obligations, provided they are
self-sustaining by 1999.
RENEWABLES. Define BPA's responsibility to develop renewable resources; limit research and development support.
TRANSMISSION. Require BPA to implement rates, terms and conditions comparable to those of investor-owned utilities subject to FERC regulation.
DOWNSIZING. Reduce staffing not directly related to operation of the Federal power system. Further reduce the cost of administrative and other internal support service costs by an aggregate of 50 percent (from 1996 levels), for financial, human resources, information management, procurement, strategic planning, public affairs, legal and other internal services.
- Bruce W. Radford, editor
Source: "Cost Review of the Federal Columbia River Power System - Management Committee Recommendations," Northwest Power Planning Council, Document CR 98-2, March 10, 1998, see, www.nwppc.org/cost_fin.htm. Eleven-member committee, chaired by Todd Maddock of the NPCC, included BPA representatives and financial and other management executives from regional businesses, such as Weyerhaeuser Co., but with no apparent effort to represent utility or consumer stakeholders.
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