- Federally-owned power marketer Bonneville Power Association yesterday released a five-year plan it says will help keep it competitive, including modernizing its assets, investing in efficiency and managing costs.
- The plan responds to "significant concerns" expressed by power customers who say they would shop for cheaper power when long-term wholesale contracts expire in 2028. According to Power Magazine, BPA's financial issues circle around cost and debt management as well as reserves.
- BPA has 22 GW of hydropower across and 15,000 miles of transmission lines, as well as marketing energy from the 1.1 GW Columbia Generating Station, the region's only nuclear plant. However, persistent low natural gas prices, along with a boom in renewables, has "eroded" its cost advantage, according to the plan.
BPA's hydro and nuclear resources are facing the same pressures as coal plants in other parts of the country: cheap natural gas has made it difficult to compete, while wind and solar comes online amid stagnant demand.
BPA has provided the region's lowest-cost power for years, up to 28%. But the marketer conceded that "its cost advantage has eroded." The marketer blamed "persistently low natural gas prices and ever-increasing renewable energy expansion," while load remains flat.
BPA Administrator and CEO Elliot Mainze said in a statement that the plan will serve as a reference point "for everything we at BPA do over the next five years. It all comes down to our commercial success."
Four strategic goals have been outlined, including strengthening the balance sheet, modernization, efficiency investments to support competitive products, and standardizing transmission products. BPA wants to standardize and streamline its transmission products, and will also develop a more "flexible, scalable, economical and operationally efficient approach" to meeting customers’ needs.
Modernization efforts could include battery storage, flow control devices, data analysis and demand management tools. BPA also wants to increase revenues from its secondary sales and will said it will pursue new capacity market opportunities and will develop and sell a portfolio "to take advantage of real-time, short-term, cyclical, long-term and emerging opportunities."
Last year, BPA announced it would not construct a proposed 80-mile, 500-kV transmission line. Instead, the marketer would turn to non-wire alternatives, grid management and energy storage.