Bonneville Power Administration's (BPA) 46% rate increase, announced June 29, will save Northwest ratepayers US$4 billion over the next year, compared to the 250% rate increase the agency expected to have to charge when BPA launched its load-reduction effort in April, BPA Acting Administrator Steve Wright said.

BPA called on its customers to reduce loads by 10% and asked direct-service industrial customers to remain off-line for up to two years. Some 100 publicly owned utilities, five investor-owned utilities and all the aluminum companies operating in the Northwest, except Kaiser Aluminum, signed load-reduction agreements.

Successful control of BPA's rates, Wright said, means: a net of 25,000 jobs saved; aluminum smelters will be down for some time, but are not out of business and their workers will be paid; power-system reliability is improved because most load reduction came through conservation or curtailment; and, by staying out of the market, BPA played a key role in bringing market prices down throughout the West.
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