Federal Government Says It Won’t Sell Off Bonneville Power Administration Transmission Lines

File photo of the power lines at Bonneville Dam. CREDIT: BRADLEY W. PARKS/OPB
File photo of the power lines at Bonneville Dam. CREDIT: BRADLEY W. PARKS/OPB

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The Trump administration has abandoned its bid to sell off the Pacific Northwest’s publicly owned utility transmission lines, according to Republican members of Congress who were briefed on the decision.

The plan to privatize the Bonneville Power Administration’s lines had been decried by critics as a move that could also have raised rates for customers.

The Trump administration has suggested selling off BPA’s transmission lines twiceBoth times the proposal has been met with strong pushback from Northwest lawmakers. They expressed some relief this spring when Energy Secretary Rick Perry said he would not sell off BPA’s assets without congressional approval.

This idea has been considered off and on for decades — and it’s never set well with BPA’s customer groups or politicians.

Last year, a bipartisan group of 15 Northwest House members sent a letter opposing the proposal, four days before the Trump administration released its plans.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called the most recent proposal a “misguided scheme.”

In a statement Thursday, Washington Republican U.S. Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dave Reichert thanked the administration for listening to their concerns.

“We have voiced our strong opposition to this proposal and are grateful to Secretary Perry for continuing to study the impact a sell-off would have on our region and recognizing BPA’s unique and vital role in maintaining economic vitality for our Northwest communities. It’s a big relief to know that this harmful proposal will not be pursued,” the representatives wrote.

Department of Energy staff called each congressional office to let them know about the decision, according to a Newhouse spokesman.

The BPA operates about three-quarters of the high-voltage transmission systems in its territory, including Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

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