Section 4(h)(5) of the Northwest Power Act requires that the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program consist of measures that protect, mitigate, and enhance fish and wildlife affected by the development, operation and management of the Columbia River hydroelectric facilities “while assuring the Pacific Northwest an adequate, efficient, economical, and reliable power supply.” At the conclusion of a program amendment process, the Council signifies in some manner that (1) it has considered the fish and wildlife measures to be adopted as part of the program and their potential effect on the region’s power supply, and (2) has an appropriate level of confidence that the region may implement the revised fish and wildlife program while maintaining an adequate, efficient, economical and reliable power supply. This is known as the “AEERPS” consideration or conclusion. The Council’s considerations regarding what it means to approve fish and wildlife program measures while assuring the region an “adequate,” “efficient,” “economical,” and “reliable” power supply are discussed in Appendix R of the program
The discussion of an “adequate and reliable” power supply relies primarily on information now generated by the Council on an ongoing basis in regular assessments of the adequacy of the Pacific Northwest power supply. The discussion of an “economical” power supply includes information from Bonneville as to how Bonneville reports the costs of the fish and wildlife program, published in the Council’s annual report to the governors on fish and wildlife program costs. The discussion on “efficiency” includes not just consideration of the efficiency of the power supply but also includes recommendations by the Council, based in part on a report by the Independent Economic Analysis Board (IEAB), to further improve the efficiency of fish and wildlife program implementation.
Adequacy assessments, Bonneville’s costs to implement the program, and Council recommendations based on IEAB reports are important considerations for the program, but this information is not part of the formal conclusions required by the statute regarding the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the power supply. However, the discussion of what constitutes efficient and cost-effective fish and wildlife measures [see Appendix R] is a useful place in the program to consider these broader issues of fish and wildlife implementation, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.
For the reasons given in the longer discussion in Appendix R, the Council concludes that it may adopt the protection, mitigation and enhancement measures in the 2014 Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program while assuring the region an adequate, efficient, economical and reliable power supply. Under the Act, after the Council completes the fish and wildlife program amendments, the Council begins a separate process under the statute to review and revise the Council’s regional electric power and conservation plan. The Council’s AEERPS conclusion here assumes that the Council will continue to follow the requirements of the Power Act in reviewing and revising the power plan, including approving a conservation and generating resource strategy to guide Bonneville and the region in acquiring the least-cost resources necessary to meet the region’s demand for electricity and to “assist [Bonneville] in meeting the requirements of section 4(h) of this Act,” that is, to implement the fish and wildlife program.