Throughout the Columbia River Treaty modernization process, the Columbia River Treaty Power Group has advocated for a fair and equitable outcome on behalf of the estimated 6.4 million Northwest electric ratepayers we serve. Based on our shared interests, the Power Group supports the following:
- A net positive benefit for Northwest electric ratepayers. If the Treaty is to continue beyond 2024, the end result of all revisions should provide a substantial, measurable and positive “net value” for Northwest electric ratepayers. Otherwise, termination of the Columbia River Treaty’s downstream power provisions is preferable.
- Termination notice. The United States should serve Canada with notice of intent to terminate the Treaty, specifically the provisions that require the U.S. to pay Canada for downstream power benefits in the form of a “Canadian Entitlement.” The notice of intent to terminate the Treaty will set a 10 year period to modernize the Treaty, if warranted. The historical record clearly illustrates the treaty’s benefits were calculated on a 60-year lifespan. Both countries acknowledged conditions would change over time. A notice of intent to terminate the Treaty would provide sufficient time to modernize the Treaty and the downstream power provisions.
- A rebalanced Canadian Entitlement. The U.S. currently overpays Canada about 70 – 90 percent for downstream power benefits from Canadian storage. This overpayment translates into approximately 3 billion kilowatt hours per year, and over the last decade has resulted in a Northwest electric ratepayer overpayment of approximately $1.25 billion.
- More carbon-free energy in the United States. Since the current Columbia Entitlement results in an export of zero carbon emission energy out of the U.S. Northwest, it affects our nation’s renewable energy supply and the domestic ability to firm variable renewable generation resources.
- Operational flexibility for Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph and other hydropower projects. The Treaty must maintain and protect the operational flexibility of hydropower projects covered by the Treaty, which are the largest sources of clean, renewable power in the region. Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph are particularly critical to the hydropower system, representing about 46 percent of U.S. Columbia River generating capacity and 80 percent of active U.S. Columbia river storage capacity.
- A complementary ecosystem function. Any ecosystem function incorporated into the Treaty must account for efforts already being undertaken under existing federal and state programs to protect fish and wildlife resources in the Columbia River and its tributaries. These are publically-developed programs through which Northwest electric ratepayers have invested over $15 billion, with hundreds of millions being spent annually on ongoing fish and wildlife programs.
- Timely negotiations with Canada. The U.S. should immediately signal its intent to renegotiate the Treaty with Canada. Continued delay in Treaty negotiations obligates Northwest electric ratepayers to overpay Canada beyond 2024. The overpayment equals roughly $1 million every 2-3 days.