Rec. 18 - Nespelem Valley Electric Cooperative
March 22, 2001
In as much as your request includes electric power customers, Nespelem Valley Electric Cooperative (NVEC) hereby wishes to respond.
It is noted that "The Power Act requires the Council to adopt program measures that protect, mitigate and enhance fish and wildlife while assuring the Pacific Northwest an adequate, efficient, economical and reliable power supply." Because BPA will raise their wholesale power rates on October 1st by an amount unknown at this time, but purported to be in the triple digits, NVEC respectfully requests and recommends that the Council consider the economic aspects of all plans that affect BPA's hydropower sales. Furthermore, please base your plan upon scientific data along with a cost/benefit analysis.
NVEC is a very small, non-profit electric utility with a service area entirely upon the Colville Tribal Reservation supplied with power from BPA and within sight of the Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph Dams. Our members already pay rates higher than surrounding utilities, many of which own Mid-Columbia dams. Thirty percent of our members are low income, fixed income, elderly and retired citizens. Twenty-five percent of our kilowatt-hour sales are to orchardists who cannot make a living selling their fruit. Forty-five percent of our members are Tribal members with an unemployment rate of over 40%. Ranchers and loggers in our area have struggled to survive for years from their sale of livestock and lumber products. Any BPA double-digit rate increase would be uncollectable; a triple-digit BPA increase is not only unrealistic but also unfathomable!
NVEC is concerned for our members who rely on affordable electric rates to survive. Although the survival of fish and wildlife is important in the operation of the river system, the survival of people in the area is required to be considered in any plan. Please realize that unnecessary and unwarranted costs put on BPA's hydroelectric operation will be reflected in BPA's forthcoming rate increase adversely affecting real people.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
William C. Miller, Jr.