A New Era of Electric Power: BPA’s Long-Term Contract Blueprint

hydropower pacific northwest

(Credit: BPA)

by | Mar 29, 2024

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After extensive collaboration with stakeholders, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has announced the completion of its Provider of Choice Policy. This strategic document outlines the future of wholesale electric power contracts starting in 2028.

BPA has been a prominent electricity supplier to the Pacific Northwest for over 85 years. Operating under the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act mandate, BPA is obligated to offer contracts for firm power to regional utilities and Independent Operating Utilities (IOUs). To uphold its status as the “Provider of Choice,” BPA has initiated a collaborative approach with customers and stakeholders to comprehend their electricity requirements and influence future power sales policies and contracts. These endeavors aim to prepare for the period post-2028 when the existing Regional Dialogue contracts are set to expire.

John Hairston, BPA Administrator and CEO, emphasized the policy’s role in ensuring affordable, reliable, and sustainable electricity from the Federal Columbia River Power System to BPA’s public power customers. “The landscape of our industry has transformed since the last contracts in 2011,” Hairston noted. “This policy charts a path for sustainable energy use and economic growth for the next twenty years.”

Central to the policy is the continuation of the tiered rate system, which allows customers to purchase power at the most favorable rates and provides options for additional power needs through BPA or other resources. This system aims to maintain the federal system’s value, including 31 dams and a nuclear plant, and protect customers from volatile power acquisition costs.

The policy introduces new opportunities for integrating non-federal resources while upholding the principles of tiered rates. All while establishing a robust framework that clarifies BPA’s load services and adapts to future regional changes, such as aligning emissions attributes with utility reporting standards in response to customer feedback.

Marking a significant step in the Provider of Choice initiative, BPA will begin policy implementation and contract development workshops in April, aiming to finalize new long-term contracts by December 2025.

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