PORT ORFORD Rolling electrical blackouts in California should not affect Oregon residents, said Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative General Manager Jim Arntz Friday, but the power crisis could force rate increases on the South Coast in the fall.
Arntz said the Bonneville Power Administration made a proposal Thursday to double rates on Oct. 1, then ratchet rates down so that the increase totals 63 percent over the next five years.
That proposal wont officially be made for about three weeks, and Arntz is skeptical Bonneville will get exactly what it wants.
He is, however, anticipating some kind of increase when current contracts expire at the end of September.
Our members will see an impact on Oct. 1, said Arntz, but how much of an impact cant be determined today.
What Coos-Curry Electric needs to figure out, said Arntz, is how to operate as a shock absorber so rates dont bounce up and down for customers.
One way to do that would be to borrow money to cushion the initial 100 percent rate increase to members. Arntz said hes already talked with lenders, who are amenable to the idea.
Coos-Curry is one of the members of the Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative, which buys part of its power from Bonneville.
Arntz said the generating cooperative also buys from three other companies that own interests in Northwest dams not federally owned.
California has been suffering power blackouts and rate increases in recent weeks. Arntz said Bonneville has been shipping electricity south during Californias peak load hours.
Under an agreement, California was supposed to ship twice as much power back within 48 hours, but has been slow to do so. The power debt may not be paid back until February.
Because of the generating crisis, Bonneville cant buy power at low rates from California as it usually does during certain times of the year, said Arntz.
The snow pack is still below normal in the Columbia-Snake River watershed. With less water to spin turbines in the summer, Bonneville faces higher costs to produce electricity.
See Rate increase, Page 7A