2013 Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program Costs Report

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Since 2001, in response to a request from the governors of the four Northwest states, the Council has reported annually on all costs related to fish and wildlife incurred by the Bonneville Power Administration, including costs to implement the Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. In this 13th annual report, the Council provides an update of Bonneville’s fish and wildlife costs in Fiscal Year 2013. This cost information was provided by Bonneville in response to requests from the Council staff and was not independently verified by the Council or its staff.

Summary of 2013 costs

In Fiscal Year 2013, Bonneville reported total fish and wildlife costs of approximately $682.4 million, as follows:

  • $239 million in direct (expense) costs.
  • $78.5 million in direct costs and reimbursements to the federal Treasury for expenditures by the Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for investments in fish passage and fish production, including direct funding of operations and maintenance expenses of federal fish hatcheries; this category also includes one-half of the Council’s $10.2 million budget in Fiscal Year 2013 (the other half is assigned to the Power Business Line budget).
  • $143.4 million in fixed costs (interest, amortization, and depreciation) of capital investments for facilities such as hatcheries, fish-passage facilities at dams, and some land purchases for fish and wildlife habitat.
  • $135.5 million in forgone hydropower sales revenue that results from dam operations that benefit fish but reduce hydropower generation.
  • $85.8 million in power purchases during periods when dam operations to protect migrating fish reduce hydropower generation, such as by spilling water over dams in the spring or storing it behind dams in winter months in anticipation of required spring spill.

The $682.4 million total does not include the amount Bonneville borrowed from the U.S. Treasury in 2013 totaling $52.1 million for program-related projects, and $103.6 million for associated federal projects, which include capital investments at dams operated by the Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation.ii These investments are funded by congressional appropriations and repaid by Bonneville. Including them in the same total as fixed costs would double-count some of the capital investment. The total also does not reflect a credit of $84.1 million from the federal Treasury related to fish and wildlife costs in 2013 that Bonneville is required to take under Section 4(h)(10)(C) of the Power Act. The annual credit comprises the obligations of other federal agencies for dam purposes other than hydropower, and which Bonneville pays in full. The credit is applied to Bonneville’s federal Treasury debt. Subtracting the credit reduces the total fish and wildlife costs to $598.3 million in fiscal year 2013 (the credit is explained in more detail in the “Power System Costs” section of this report).

The total of all fish and wildlife costs reported by Bonneville in Fiscal Year 2013 ($682.4 million) includes forgone revenue and power purchases. How large is this relative to Bonneville’s other costs? In the same year, Bonneville’s entire Power Business Line costs totaled approximately $2,647,340,000 (See Figure and Table 1D). Adding the forgone revenue ($135.5 million) to these costs brings the total to $2,782,840,000. Bonneville’s fish and wildlife costs comprised 24.5 percent of that total.

Fish and wildlife costs account for a significant portion of the rate Bonneville charges its wholesale power customers. Approximately one-third of Bonneville’s wholesale rate of approximately $30 per megawatt hour is estimated to be associated with its fish and wildlife program.

(Public comments were accepted on the draft report through July 11, 2014.)

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Contact Eric Schrepel with any questions or requests, thank you.