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2018 Legislative Objectives and Principles

  1. Collaborate with legislators and stakeholders to shape energy policy so that it recognizes the value of the Northwest's clean and predominantly carbon-free electricity resources and avoid shifting the costs of carbon pollution mitigation to cooperatives that do not use carbon emitting resources.
    • Support carbon mitigation policies which do not adversely impact jobs in Washington State or place our businesses at a competitive disadvantage
  2. Renewable Portfolio Standard (RCW 19.285) - allow incremental power generated as a result of efficiency improvements at federal hydro facilities to count towards a utility's RPS requirements.
    • Oppose increases in RPS standards, or utility inclusion requirements. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council's latest power plan concludes that an RPS is the least effective and most costly way to mitigate carbon pollution.
  3. Coordination of Danger Tree Removal Permissions and Liability with the Department of Natural Resources
    • Utilities must have the right to proactively manage trees that are outside of standard Rights-of-Way or a waiver from liability if access permissions are not granted.
  4. Maintain Cooperative rights to determine safe placement, permitting and rate making for pole attachments
    • The diversity of density and topography of utility service areas makes it important to maintain a utility's ability to determine the most appropriate placement, rates and the permitting process for pole attachments.
  5. WRECA is a strong advocate for the propagation of rural broadband and realizes the successful build-out must be safe and economically sustainable.
    • Support legislation that provides funding to make it economically feasible to provide broadband services in rural areas, regardless of the provider. The buildout of rural broadband should be economically viable and sustainable without any subsidy of other cooperative members.
  6. Maintain Electric Cooperatives right to eminent domain
    • Electric Cooperatives have used this right judiciously over the years and must retain this right to reliably and cost-effectively serve their member/owners.
  7. Retain the state's net metering statute.
    • The current statute allows Cooperatives to set proper avoided-cost payments once they have met the developmental threshold for distributed generation. Retail net metering, beyond the threshold, results in a cost shift from net-metered generators to non-generating consumers.

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Bonneville Power Administration (BPA)

As consumer-owned utilities that have preference to federal power, WRECA members buy much or all of their power from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) as well as using the Bonneville transmission system to deliver that power. Issues impacting the agency weigh heavily on the cooperatives, their consumers, and their ability to enable job creation throughout Washington.

BPA Mission

  • The agency plays an integral role in the economic vitality of the Pacific Northwest.
  • By law, BPA's first mission is to deliver, at cost, the clean, renewable hydropower that is generated at
  • Federal dams to the region's not for profit, consumer-owned electric utilities.
  • BPA maintains the reliability of the electric grid and, within its statutory authority, helps advance
  • Energy efficiency and renewable generation, and protects regional fish and wildlife.

WRECA appreciates the Washington congressional delegation's support of BPA and its mission.

  • Since 2009, BPA's average power rates have increased over 30 percent, over twice the rate of inflation.
  • WRECA members are interested in BPA's "Focus 2028" initiative, but hope that it is more than a simple study or discussions and that it will lead to serious considerations of issues that put pressure on BPA rates.
    • Meeting fish and wildlife program obligations is a more cost-effective manner
    • More flexibility and efficient implementation of Energy Efficiency Program
    • Maximize borrowing authority by strategically investing in BPA transmission and the federal hydropower system
    • Reform BPA's budget process to address competitive rate realities.

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Proposal to Sell BPA Transmission

WRECA opposes the administration's proposal to divest BPA's transmission assets.

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BPA Financial Status and Competitiveness

WRECA appreciates the Northwest congressional delegation support for the competitiveness focus at BPA, and we encourage a continued press for needed reforms that support BPA's future stability.

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Shift BPA to Market-Based Rates?

WRECA urges Congress to again reject any proposal to shift BPA to market-based rates.

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The Columbia River Treaty

WRECA and its members appreciate the work of the Congressional delegation in urging the progress to this point.

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Regulation of Electric Cooperative Poles

Electric co-op poles are designed and constructed for a specific purpose -- to carry electrical wires and related equipment. Because working on or near energized electrical lines and equipment is inherently hazardous, safety codes and regulations govern the way overhead lines and poles are designed, constructed, installed, and maintained in order to protect utility workers and the general public. These same safety rules specify the placement of other equipment on poles such as telecommunications or cable equipment. This is because any foreign attachment departs from the design and construction of the original overhead line and may introduce significant engineering and safety issues which must be considered. This includes reliability issues because the attachments increase wind and ice loading, making lines and poles more susceptible to breakdowns during extreme weather events. In some cases, the addition of foreign attachments may necessitate installation of taller or stronger poles or call for relocation of poles, increasing costs to the electric co-op members.

WRECA is concerned about draft legislation that will adversely impact electric cooperatives

  • Draft legislation before the House Energy and Commerce Committee would provide additional FCC regulation of attachments to electric co-op power poles.
  • Electric co-ops support the expansion of broadband capability in their communities with reasonable pole attachment rates and access procedures.
  • The proposal would adversely affect electric utility pole attachment regulations.
  • The proposal would subject co-ops to burdensome regulations and reporting requirements to the FCC for the first time.
  • WRECA urges Congress to drop all provision that would increase regulations on co-ops and maintain the federal pole attachment exemption for electric cooperatives.

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NOAA Supplemental BiOp

Hydropower from the Federal Columbia River Power System is a key economic driver for jobs in the Northwest. This efficient and renewable resource provides low-cost power without carbon emissions. Hydro provides over 60% of the region's electrical generation capacity, and it makes up almost 90% of the generation within the Bonneville Power Administration's resource portfolio. As such, it is the primary resource used to serve electricity to the millions of customers of publicly and cooperatively owned utilities in the Northwest with preference rights to federal power. The hydropower system in the Northwest also provides other key benefits that are part of our economy and way of life. These include provision of critical flood control, irrigation, navigation, and recreation.

We are pleased that the updated salmon plan continues to employ the best available science to protect listed species.

  • Hydropower provides low-cost power without carbon emissions.
  • Hydro provides over 60% of the region's electrical generation capacity, and it makes up almost 90% of the generation within the Bonneville Power Administration's resource portfolio.
  • WRECA members support cost-effective actions to protect and enhance fish and wildlife in the Columbia River Basin.
    • Since 1980, BPA customers have invested nearly $15 billion in Endangered Species Act and other statutory obligations to fish and wildlife.
    • About 30% of the power cost charged by BPA is attributable to fish and wildlife expenditures.
  • An estimated 2.27 million adult salmon and steelhead returned past Bonneville Dam in 2015.
    • The most recent 10-year average return for salmon and steelhead was 1.6 million.

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Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) Reform

WRECA Position: PURPA reform is necessary to ensure this 40-year old statute more accurately reflects the current electricity market and helps rural electric cooperatives continue to provide affordable, reliable electricity. We urge Congress to pass H.R. 4476 to provide reforms to the four-decade old law that address today’s electricity market needs.

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Maintaining Strong Cyber and Physical Security are Key Priorities for Electric Cooperatives

WRECA Positions: Protect the Standards Development Process, Improve Information Flow and Protection, Support Research, Development and Adoption of New Technologies for Small & Medium Entities

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Protect Electric Cooperative Employee Retirement Benefits

WRECA Position: The same facts that led Congress to adjust funding rules for CSEC plans strongly support adjusting PBGC premiums charged to CSEC plans like us. Since CSEC plans pose far less risk to PBGC than "single-employer" plans, it does not make sense for CSEC plans to be subject to that premium structure. America's Electric Cooperatives Urge Congress to Pass S. 2526 / H.R. 5282.

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Fish Facts

WRECA is committed to cost-effective, science-based approaches to ensure ratepayers funds committed to this important endeavor produce measurable results.

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Endangered Species Act

WRECA supports congressional efforts to review, update and modernize the Endangered Species Act and supports legislation similar to the effort from 2014 that would require greater transparency and reduce incentives for abuse of the ESA by:

  • requiring data used by federal agencies for ESA listing decisions be made publicly available on the Internet;
  • requiring annual reporting and tracking of ESA litigation costs, including attorneys' fees;
  • requiring the federal government to disclose to affected states all data used prior to a listing or proposed ESA listing decision
  • capping hourly fees paid to attorneys that prevail in cases filed under ESA.

 

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Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Electric Loan Program

Washington's electric cooperatives support an FY 2018 RUS loan level of $5.5 B for FY 2018 with no language restricting how loans may be used. We also encourage Congress to fund the Guaranteed Underwriter Program at $1B and the REDL&G Program at $85M for FY 2018.

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