Labor unites on plan for BPA power

The Oregon AFL-CIO and Washington State Labor Council have joined with the United Steelworkers of America to support a plant for continuing Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) power sales to aluminum companies, while committing those companies to develop alternative power sources and achieve energy self-sufficiency in five years.

The proposal, outlined in the Oregon AFL-CIO's Weekly Update, was forwarded to BPA Administrator Stephen Wright in a letter signed by Steelworkers Director David Foster, Oregon AFL-CIO President Tim Nesbitt, and Washington State Labor Council President Rick Bender. In the letter, the group proposed that every BPA customer, including Direct Service Industries, be given access to BPA power on the following terms:

* The first 73 percent of power allocated for 2001-2006, representing the portion available from low-cost hydropower, should be provided at the original rate of approximately $23.50 per megawatt hour;

* Additional power should be provided at market rates, thus maximizing incentives for conservation;

* Rate caps should be put in place to protect low-income residential customers.

However, as a condition of participating in this allocation, the labor group proposed that the aluminum companies commit to achieving energy self-sufficiency by 2006, develop new, environmentally-sound power generation, with significant reliance on renewable resources, and establish provisions reasonably acceptable to affected unions to mitigate any negative impacts on workers during this period.

Finally, the group proposed that any additional power curtailments "be individually negotiated between the BPA, the DSIs and the affected unions."

"This is the best approach to allocating BPA's low-cost power among all consumers, while encouraging conservation and protecting family-wage jobs in energy-dependent industries now and in the long term," Nesbitt said.

April 6, 2001 issue

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